Seeing diverse wildlife is one of the many benefits of living in the Pacific Northwest. But sometimes these nighttime invaders find their way into our yards and leave quite a mess behind. Some wild or stray animals may also carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans and pets, and some have even been known to attack small children or four-legged family members. 

If you’ve noticed signs of wildlife in your yard, a trail cam can help you get a clearer, closer look at who and what is lurking around at night. Keep reading to learn more about trail cameras and how they can help you protect your yard.


Blessing Landscapes - critter camera for backyard

Signs That Wildlife Are In Your Backyard

From trampled gardens and muddy tracks to overturned trash cans and flower pots, critters love to make their mark in our backyards.

If your backyard has become a hotspot for animal activity, you may see and hear some evidence, even if you haven’t seen the critter with your own eyes. Of course, the type of damage that may occur will depend on the type of animal. 

In Oregon, some of the most common nighttime invaders include squirrels, deer, raccoons, skunks, moles, stray cats and dogs, and more.

Here are a few telltale signs that wildlife are in your backyard:

  • Damaged plants
  • Dirt holes in your lawn
  • Knocked-over trash cans
  • Strange noises at night such as rustling, squeaking, or chirping
  • Missing fruits and veggies in your garden
  • Unfamiliar droppings
  • Wet or discolored patches on building materials
  • Small trails and markings in the dirt
  • Musky smells
  • Agitated pets


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How do you pick the right critter or trail cam for your backyard?

Using a wildlife camera for backyard surveillance can help you easily identify animals that may be sneaking around at night. The best trail cams will be durable, discrete, and allow you to see clearly at night and in low-visibility conditions. They’ll also be able to stand up to various types of weather such as rain and snow, and allow you to easily access and rewatch footage from throughout the night.

Most backyard cameras for animals fall into one of three categories:

  • Cellular
  • Wireless/WiFi
  • Traditional 

There are a number of high-tech options on the market, and you should have no problem finding one that meets your specific needs, preferences, and budget. 

For example, Blaze Video offers a wide collection of camouflage cameras with motion sensor and infrared capabilities. You can also find solar and battery powered cameras from Browning Trail Cameras, along with mounts and other accessories. If you’re new to the world of backyard wildlife cams, check out the best trail cameras of 2023 to familiarize yourself with key features and specifications.


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Do you need a sim card?

While trail cameras differ in terms of their features and connectivity, cellular cameras will need a sim card to connect to your cellular network. 

Additionally, you can install an SD card to hold images and footage so that you can access them at any time. Depending on how your memory is stored, you may have to periodically check and empty your storage to ensure your camera continues functioning as intended.

How often do you have to replace the batteries?

The battery life on your backyard trail cam will vary significantly depending on the brand and model you choose.

Most modern cameras will last for several months on a single charge, though this can be affected by the frequency of animal activity and whether it takes video or still images. You can also find solar-powered cameras, which can recharge on their own.


Wildlife caught on a trail cam in Portland, Oregon:

Blessing Landscapes - backyard camera for animals

What animals can you expect to see near Portland?

Outside the city limits of Portland, you’ll see a wide variety of Oregon wildlife. But animals can also thrive even in dense urban areas. They use city trees, telephone wires, gardens, parks, bridges, and our own backyards to make their homes and source their food. 

Depending on where you live in the city, you may see: 

Birds: Portland is home to hummingbirds, chickadees, northern flickers, woodpeckers, finches, jays, eagles, and more. While you might want to protect your vegetable garden from these winged visitors, birds are beautiful to look at and they also provide natural insect control!
Amphibians and reptiles: If you live near water or a forest environment, you may see a variety of frogs, salamanders, newts, lizards, and snakes. While a small frog or snake isn’t likely to wreak havoc on your backyard, they can become a problem if there are too many.
Bats: There are a few bat species that you may see on your cams at night; while bats aren’t likely to harm your landscaping and offer pest control by feeding on insects and mosquitos, it’s important to keep your distance from them as they can carry diseases.
Small ground mammals: Squirrels, shrews, rabbits, moles, voles, raccoons, weasels, gophers, and other small mammals may venture onto your property within the city limits. These critters can be destructive in your yard by digging, feeding on garden plants, and chewing on tree bark, lawn furniture, and even electrical wires.
Large ground mammals: Portland is home to a variety of large mammal species, although they’re more rare to see than their smaller counterparts. But coyotes, foxes, deer, elk, and cougars have been seen in Rose City backyards. These animals can wreak havoc on a growing garden. Deer will feed on gardens, landscaping, and vegetables, while foxes and coyotes can pose a danger to small pets. However, these larger predatory mammals can help keep rodents away from your house.


Things You Should Do Once You Find an Animal

Even after you’ve identified the invader, you still have to find a way to stop them from wreaking havoc. The ideal solution may involve repellents, removal, and other strategies to get and keep them away. Of course, the type of animal (or animals) you’re dealing with will determine the most effective strategy.

Luckily, there are a number of professional wildlife control companies in Oregon that can help you handle your pest problem and keep your yard and family safe and undisturbed. You can also take steps to pest-proof your backyard with your landscaping, fencing, and more.


Blessing Landscapes - best backyard wildlife camera

Let Blessing Landscapes help you keep unwanted critters away and encourage welcome ones to stay!

At Blessing Landscapes, we’re experts on all things green! We’re honored to work with Portland homeowners and help them achieve the beautiful, functional, and healthy landscapes they’ve always dreamed of having! 

We can help you select specific plants to deter unwanted animals (for example, raccoons or squirrels) from disrupting your landscaping, while encouraging others (birds, butterflies, and more) to stick around! We can also use strategic outdoor lighting, which not only looks beautiful but can also help deter wildlife from entering your property.

Ready to get started? Have questions? Call us at (503) 284-3557 or contact us online!