Tools & Gear

Is a smart bird feeder with camera worth the money?

A smart bird feeder with camera and app
What is a smart bird feeder with camera and why would you want one? This article explains this fun and educational bird feeder.

Owning a smart bird feeder with camera is a game-changer for bird watching enthusiasts.

With features such as live streaming, high-quality images, and audio pickup you can easily observe birds in their natural habitat without disturbing them. And you can share the camera views with friends and family if you want.

You might even spot a few species you didn't realize were coming to your feeders!

What is a smart bird feeder with camera?

A smart bird feeder with camera allows you to not only feed your local birds while getting a, ahem, bird’s eye view of their behavior. The camera connects to an app on your phone that sends you a notification when a birds arrives at the feeder.

With features such as live streaming, high-quality images, and audio pickup you'll experience your birds like never before.

See also: All your smart bird feeder questions answered

Why would I want a smart bird feeder?

A smart bird feeder with camera provides endless hours of fun and entertainment that you can share with others in your circle. They’re also a great way to get your kids interested in birds and nature.

But people of all ages seem to get quite a bang out of their smart bird feeders.

As one happy owner says, “This smart bird feeder makes me feel like I am the bird whisperer and the birds are eating out of the palm of my hand.”

Another happy owner says, "As a caregiver of 18 years, I want to mention that elderly people are generally lonely and this is a beautiful product to connect them to nature and enrich their quality of life."

Kids love opening the notifications and adults get hooked on the live views too.

In fact, several people say they’ve bought a smart bird feeder with camera as a gift and liked it so much they decided to keep it!

(PS: A smart bird feeder with camera is also a great gift for the certain someone who has everything.)

See also: 7 Best smart bird feeders for 2023

Related: The ugly truth about squirrel-proof bird feeders

You might like: Winners of the WP 2023 squirrel photo contest

How does a smart bird feeder with camera work?

The feeder itself is usually a hopper-style feeder in which a weatherproof camera and microphone are embedded just above the feed tray and perch.

The camera is activated by a motion sensor when a bird stops in, automatically capturing photos and video while the built in mike captures sound.

Most smart bird feeders with camera also have an alarm and speaker to scare critters away as well as an infrared or full color night vision camera.

Smart bird feeder with camera night vision - Cuckoo

A sample infrared view from the Cuckoo smart bird feeder

If hummingbirds are your bag, some smart bird feeders such as the Netvue Birdfy offer attachments for feeding nectar, fruit or suet.

The better smart bird feeders allow you to store images and video in the cloud, to an SD card, or both, and also allow you to take still photos (screen shots) from the video.

What makes a bird feeder smart?

Kingfisher in smart bird feeder app from BirdDock

Kingfisher shown in BirdDock app

The “smarts” are in the app that you download to your phone or tablet.

The app pairs with the camera and tries to identify any bird the camera sees, using a birdy version of facial recognition technology.

“Tries” is the operative word here – the AI or artificial intelligence - feature of these apps is very much a work in progress all around. Accuracy ranges from “spot on” to not there at all.

For example, one of these apps once identified a tray of bird seed as an Emperor penguin!

A lot of the accuracy depends on whether the camera has captured enough views of the bird to make a strong identification, and probably also on how common the bird is.

Until the technology improves, it’s likely best to keep your bird guide handy to confirm the camera’s IDs.

How to choose a high-quality smart bird feeder with camera

You can find camera-equipped bird feeders for “cheep”, but don’t waste your money. Those feeders don’t offer the features that make smart bird feeders so much fun!

The best smart bird feeders cost between $150 and $300 USD and will offer: 

  • Wireless connectivity
  • A quality video camera of 720P or 1080P resolution  
  • A wide viewing angle – at least 120 degrees
  • Night vision capability, whether in full color or infrared black & white
  • A microphone and speaker. Some also have a light and alarm to deter critters
  • A slot for a microSD card  
  • A solar panel for recharging the batteries 
  • An Android or iPhone app for controlling the camera and identifying birds
  • IP 65 waterproof construction
  • Add-ons for offering suet, fruit, nectar or jelly to birds that don't eat seeds
  • Bonus feature: ability to adjust the camera angle helps the camera focus on the smaller birds

You may even find that your smart bird feeder is useful as a security camera! (Though we don't recommend that you rely on it for this purpose.)

Setting up and using your new smart bird feeder

Congratulations on getting a smart bird feeder! Now that you have it, it's time to set it up and start enjoying all the benefits it has to offer.

Setup is a usually quite easy, requiring little more than a screwdriver. You may have to do a little assembly, but again, it's usually easy.

Next, choose the perfect spot to place feeder. Make sure it's in a safe and secure location, away from any predators or obstacles that could harm the birds.

Don't hang the feeder from a hook or tree branch because wind and other factors can make it move, ruining your photos.

Your perfect spot will need a strong WiFi signal and enough light to ensure good photos and feed the solar panel if there is one. (If your perfect location doesn’t get a strong signal, you can boost it with a WiFi repeater.)

Attach your new feeder to a solid support like a tree, wall or fence – there will usually be mounting hardware included. Some smart bird feeders can be pole mounted, but you’ll probably need to buy an adapter and pole for that.

These bird feeders aren’t meant to be squirrel proof so if squirrels are a problem, you’ll need to take some squirrel-busting action.

Related: The ugly truth about squirrel-proof bird feeders

Now that your feeder is set up, it's time to connect it to your smartphone or tablet. Download the app and follow the instructions to connect your device to the feeder.

You may find that you have to place the smart bird feeder and your device right next to your wireless router to make that first connection.

Once connected, you'll be able to watch live video of the birds visiting your feeder, share the live images with several people and even store pictures and videos to view later.

Is a smart bird feeder with camera worth the money?

Investing in a smart bird feeder with a camera is a great way to bring a new level of excitement to your birdwatching experience.

With practice and patience, you’ll be able to capture stunning 1080p HD photos and videos of birds feeding and interacting with each other. 

Not only is this a fun and educational activity, but it can also be a great way to bond with family and friends.

So, if you're looking for an entertaining way to connect with nature, investing in a smart bird feeder with camera is definitely worth considering.

Here's our take on the 7 best smart bird feeders for 2023

About the author

Joy Thurlow

Joy Thurlow lives in the Pacific Northwest and enjoys watching birds in her back yard. She strives to find accurate, science-based information to share with other bird lovers.

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