A wildlife fan who set up a camera in a bird box to film a family of blue tits was stunned when the videos attracted 41 million hits in one month.
43-year-old John Chadwick started live-streaming footage of the birds with their chicks so his family could watch their progress before they flew the nest.
John said: “It’s gone a little bit bonkers. I only wanted to show my neighbors, friends, nieces, and nephews what the birds were up to. I had no idea the films would attract such interest.
“To think that literally tens of millions of people have been avidly watching the birds from around the world is just incredible and quite overwhelming.”
The sound engineer, who has toured with Aerosmith and the Beatles’ Ringo Starr, bought the bird box on a whim during lockdown.
He installed it on a willow tree in the back garden of his home in Leicester in March, and within hours two blue tits moved in and they had five chicks.
John said: “Within a day the birds moved in, and I wanted to know what was going on inside.
“I’d learnt how to livestream to help my local pub do their open mic, and over lockdown in February I bought a bird box camera.
“I started to livestream and do a highlights video every day—on the first day 100 people watched it.
“It showed things like the chicks being fed in the nests as the parents carried in caterpillars.
“Daily highlights continued, and about three days before the chicks fledged, I hit 100 subscribers.
“After three months of doing three hours editing a night of 15 hours of daily footage, I had 2,000 subscribers.
“I decided to put a final video together and keep it as short as possible—showing the birds going into the nests, the eggs hatching, and the chicks fledging.
“I put that up on June 7 and by Thursday 100,000 people had watched it, and by Saturday I had five million views.
“I went to a barbecue on Saturday afternoon and when I came back I had two million more In the first week I had done 10 million and now more than 41 million. It is just bizarre.”
John’s videos are mostly watched by people in America and India, with UK audiences accounting for just five per cent of his total views.
And despite the huge global success of the films, John is unlikely to make enough for a nest egg of his own.
He said: “My personal challenge to myself was to cross the threshold to get monetized, and then recoup the £150 I paid for the camera and £90 for the hard drive—it is due any day.
“Some people say they find it quite relaxing and some people are genuinely fascinated.”
(WATCH a great compilation of the best bird moments below.)
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