The Eco-Cam Story: Part 2

Western Snowy Plover photo: Steve Eric Smith
Western Snowy Plover photo: Steve Eric Smith

The second of a three-part series all about the one of a kind Bolsa Chica Land Trust Eco-Cam.

Click here to read The Eco-Cam Story: Part 1 and Part 3

The Eco-Cam, previously known as the Bolsa Chica Nest Cam, was the inspiration of and started by the Bolsa Chica Land Trust board member Jayson Ruth in March 2013.  I sat down with him to ask him about why he started the Eco-Cam Project:

Jayson Ruth 2013

Why and when did you start the Eco-Cam project?

As a high school science teacher, it seemed a logical fit to incorporate the Bolsa Chica into the classroom.  The eco camera was born as a goal for merging technology and conservation.  I have always been interested in the birds of Bolsa Chica and that seemed like a great subject matter to pursue.  The first season was March – June 2013.  The goal is to run the camera from February/March – July/August annually.

What was the motivation?

I feel today’s students are inclined to be more distracted than in perhaps any other time in history.  Since technology is the primary reason for the distraction (smart phones, social media), innovative teachers need to use the technology to engage student learning in a way that promotes critical thinking, reasoning, research and effective communication. Being a conservationist at heart, I was inspired to use technology to engage students with our local environment, especially the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.  In creating this project, I wanted to inspire my students to be more aware of their local environment and perhaps be more inclined to protect it. It is this vision that motivated me to begin the first-of-its-kind nest site camera at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach.

Jayson Ruth 2013



What was the goal/objective?

The goal is to promote citizen science and bring awareness to the value of the BCER. As a science-based project, the goals and objectives are to conduct real-time observations, data collection, and analysis of a critical nesting habitat of two endangered birds of California.  Using green technology, we are able to bring the field study site to classrooms in a way that does not interfere with the behavior / ecology of the birds, yet allows us to watch and listen to what happens at the nest colony in real time.  This community-based project can incorporate all levels of education (primary through post-secondary), government agencies, and non-profit organizations. The goal is to provide the live-stream and resources for people to use with their own academic interest in mind.

Who is it geared towards?

The original focus was high school, however it can easily be used in any classroom. It is also important to point out that this is an easy avenue for birding without having to travel to the reserve. One can view the splendor of the Bolsa Chica just by logging into the BCLT website.


In 2013 and 2014 a volunteer from his High School class compiled videos of footage from the Eco-Cam for each year.

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