Smart bird feeder turns bird selfies into collectible game and conservation tool

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Bird Buddy

Maybe you’ve spent more time looking out your dining room window than normal this year. Perhaps you’ve begun to notice the wildlife that frequents your neighborhood thanks to post-Zoom walks or your kid’s newfound love of backyard exploring

The Bird Buddy project launched on Kickstarter this week wants to lure you into a whole new world of bird-watching mixed with a touch of Pokemon Go and a dash of conservation efforts. This smart bird feeder is designed to identify bird species by photo or audio and connects to a mobile app that collects each species in your personal collection. 

The bird feeder is a clear, fillable container that holds up to 3.8 cups of birdseed and weighs a little over 2.5 pounds when full. It’s equipped with a camera that looks a lot like a smart doorbell., promising 5MP photos and 720P live video with a 120-degree field of view. Connect the camera to your 2.4GHZ Wi-Fi network for mobile notifications every time it senses a visitor. 

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Bird Buddy

Gotta catch ’em all … sort of

The Pokemon Go catchphrase applies here in a way. You’re not actually catching birds, but you are capturing their images to collect and organize in a gamified app. That data also contributes to an open-source platform tracking bird migrations and populations to help conservation efforts.

Yes, that includes your location data. If you’re not big on sharing that type of data, this bird feeder might not be for you. Knowing the location of my feeder is helping conservationists track bird populations does make it a bit easier to swallow, but I wouldn’t fault anyone for being reluctant.

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Bird Buddy
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Bird Buddy

The artificial intelligence built into the Bird Buddy camera is supposed to recognize over 1,000 bird species. A quick Google search turns up a factoid from the American Museum of Natural History suggesting there may be 18,000 species in the entire world.

If your feathered friend didn’t get a clear selfie or video clip in the camera, there’s still a chance the Bird Buddy can identify it. The camera’s microphone and AI are designed to identify birds by song as well as photo. Once the bird is identified, you unlock that species’ badge in the corresponding app. 

Right now, the Super Early Bird price is $219 per bird feeder. Additional accessories include a wall mount, fence mount or suet ball holder, each sold separately.

The Bird Buddy project is aiming for a September 2021 delivery date to Kickstarter backers. You can find out more about the campaign on its Kickstarter page. As always, please note that CNET’s reporting on crowdfunding campaigns is not an endorsement of the project or its creators. Before contributing to any campaign, read the crowdfunding site’s policies — in this case, Kickstarter — to find out your rights (and refund policies, or the lack thereof) before and after a campaign ends.

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