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Bird watching seems like one of those rites of passage as you get older. You reach a certain age and boom—you suddenly like studying our avian amigos. I have, apparently, reached that age. But I don’t always have time to tromp through fields with binoculars to catch fleeting feathers. Luckily, bird watching these days is extremely easy thanks to the arrival of bird feeder cameras. These devices are built with compact, weather-resistant cameras that typically detect motion to snap photos and videos when a bird comes to feast. They provide close-up views of the snacking species that wouldn’t be possible any other way.
One of the more popular bird feeder cameras—Bird Buddy—was launched as a Kickstarter and has taken the world of bird feeder cameras by storm. It offers an attractive yet practical design and pairs with an easy- and fun-to-use app. The Bird Buddy camera allows you to capture high-quality photos and videos of birds that visit your feeder, and AI even identifies them for you. I’ve had one up for a few months to put it through its paces and have been impressed with the device.
- The Bird Buddy is a modern-looking bird feeder with a removable camera that automatically snaps photos and videos of birds that come to snack.
- The easy-to-use app notifies you when you have a visitor and automatically identifies over 1,000 species of birds.
- The feeder holds 3.5 cups of birdseed and comes with a scoop.
- It comes with a few different ways to mount the feeder. Additional accessories are available for purchase separately.
- A Bird Buddy Pro membership unlocks certain app features and higher video quality and costs $2.50 monthly for an annual membership or $2.99 for a monthly plan.
- The base-level Bird Buddy costs $239, but we suggest upgrading to the version with a solar roof for unlimited battery life for $299.
- Attractive, modern design
- Very little assembly required
- Lots of accessories available
- App is easy and fun to use
- AI features automatically identify birds and other critters
- Livestream is available
- Records quality, highly-detailed photos and videos
- Holds plenty of birdseed
- Camera is removable for easy washing
- Optional solar roof does away with charging the battery
- Bird Buddy provides frequent updates
- Requires a WiFi connection
- Water pools in the bird feeder, resulting in moldy birdseed
- Some features are locked behind a subscription paywall
The Bird Buddy is one of the best bird feeder cameras available thanks to its excellent app usability, advanced AI, and high-quality images and videos. The sleek design is easy to install, clean, and fill, and the removable camera is a nice addition. The reliance on WiFi won’t work for everyone, but smart-home devices are increasingly common, and it allows for immediate access to your camera’s feed.
Bird Buddy setup
Setting up the Bird Buddy involves two parts: Connecting to a WiFi router along with the app and physically installing the bird feeder. The Bird Buddy doesn’t offer any onboard storage, so you’ll need access to a WiFi connection to use the camera and AI features. It uses an 802.11 b/g/n connection at 2.4 GHz plus Bluetooth for connection to the app. You’ll want to install the Bird Buddy app and pair your camera to the app before installing the bird feeder in your yard.
I had substantial issues pairing my Bird Buddy to my WiFi and connecting it to the app, and had to call customer support for assistance. Luckily, the customer support team was incredibly helpful and patient in working through the troubleshooting, and we eventually got it all set up. It is worth noting that I had an early model, so Bird Buddy has likely solved some of those issues to make the pairing process smoother.
Physical installation is simple, depending on how and where you place your bird feeder. You can hang it, mount it to a one-inch pole with the included bottom mount, or purchase a separate wall mount for attaching to fences or walls. The camera slots right into the designated slot, and it’s easy to plug it into the solar roof (if you opt for that).
Bird Buddy design & build quality
The Bird Buddy bird feeder features a sleek, modern design with smooth curves. Though looks are subjective, I think it looks much more polished than other bird feeder cameras. It’s available in blue or vibrant yellow. Bird Buddy says it features a “bird-friendly design,” though it doesn’t specify what exactly that means. The perch features a raised bird footprint pattern, providing some grip for talons.
The birdseed compartment—which holds 3.8 cups—is enclosed by clear plastic on both sides, allowing you and the birds to see the seed level inside. A back door at the top opens to fill the bird feeder up, though it requires careful maneuvering to get the seed inside and not spill it everywhere since it is a rather small opening. The entire back also comes off for easier cleaning.
Bird feeders and bird feeder cameras are, naturally, outdoor items. As a result, they need to be durable, rugged, and built to withstand the elements. The Bird Buddy ticks those marks nicely. It is made of new and recycled BPA-free plastic and feels solid and sturdy. I have had it up for a handful of months, and after a quick cleaning, it looks brand new. That’s even despite the intense Florida sun constantly beating down on it.
My main frustration with the design of the Bird Buddy is regarding keeping rain out. There are holes in the bottom that drain water in the event of rain, but they are extremely tiny. Of course, that keeps the small seeds from falling out. Butt hose same seeds can clog the holes, preventing thorough draining. Also, the protective roof helps keep some rain out but doesn’t extend beyond the feeder very much. If there is any wind blowing the rain, it will end up in the feeder. As a result, I had issues with water saturating the birdseed and mold forming.
Granted, this may be a function of where I reside in Florida—a state where strong thunderstorms are a near-daily occurrence in the summer and humidity levels are intense. I had to change the birdseed every week because of the molding. Birds do not like moldy seeds, so I don’t get as many visitors. That’s especially true if I don’t stay on top of cleaning things out. It also means that I’m dumping out seed regularly and cleaning the feeder frequently. Neither of these is ideal and keeps birds away for longer. It may be less of an issue with different birdseed mixes or locations, but it has severely limited the number of birds I attract.
Camera module details
The Bird Buddy’s camera is housed inside a plastic case. It is weather-resistant, though Bird Buddy doesn’t provide an IP rating. It does say that it can operate in temperatures between -5°F and 120°F. As a result, it will work in most locations throughout the year. The camera module measures 5.1 x 2 x 1.5 inches and fits securely in the bird feeder with the help of a magnet in the back.
The camera takes five-megapixel photos and 720p HD live-streamed video. It is capable of 1080p video clips, though you’ll need to pay for a Bird Buddy Pro membership ($2.50 per month for an annual membership or $2.99 per month for a monthly plan). The 120-degree field of view is wide enough to capture birds hanging out on the side of the feeder. There’s also a built-in microphone for recording bird songs as well, which is a fun addition.
Bird Buddy also built a laser motion detector into the camera. This senses movement on the perch and triggers the camera to take photos or videos when a visitor is present (much like a wireless security camera). I don’t have my bird feeder in a location where I can easily keep watch to test how well the motion detection works. But every time I heard a bird making noise, I received a “postcard” (Bird Buddy’s way of telling you a bird was at your feeder), so it seemed just sensitive enough.
You can switch to Power Saver Mode in the app settings if you want fewer notifications or conserve battery. Or turn on Frenzy Mode to see anything and everything, though you’ll have to pay for a Pro membership.
For power, the Bird Buddy camera utilizes a 4000 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Bird Buddy says it will last between five and 15 days. Of course, that depends on how many photos it takes, how much you stream live video, and the weather. When it needs a charge, it uses a USB-C cable. I was using the solar roof, which results in infinite battery life. If you want to save some money and don’t opt for the solar roof, the camera is fully removable. That means you won’t need to bring the entire bird feeder (along with any tiny creatures or germs) inside for charging.
Bird Buddy app
I’ve been very impressed with the Bird Buddy app during my testing. It is well-designed in design and usability, with many playful components. It is intuitive to use and easy to find what you need very quickly, even as you are getting used to it. It’s clean and minimal, without too many extra things going on.
The app uses AI to automatically identify over 1,000 species, which includes squirrels and rare birds. Unfortunately, I have only had Red-Winged Blackbirds at my feeder, so I haven’t been able to test how accurate the AI identification is beyond that single species. But it always got the Red-Winged Blackbird right, so there’s that.
When a bird visits your feeder, the app notifies you with a “postcard.” These postcards are then saved to your gallery so you can pull them back up anytime. They can even show multiple photos or videos of the same bird if they stick around for a bit. Should there be photos in a set that aren’t worth saving, you can discard them to keep your gallery from getting too cluttered.
Your gallery is sorted by bird type. Tapping on each lets you open all photos and videos the camera has captured over time of that particular species. The page for each bird species will also provide information on that bird so that you can learn more. That includes personality type, what they eat, where they are typically found, how big they are, and what they sound like. For example, the Red-Winged Blackbird page tells me that they are brawlers, open lovebirds, and social butterflies who like to eat insects and seeds and are as big as a slice of pizza.
Beyond content from your feeder, you can see photos and videos from feeders worldwide in a few different ways. First, you can add some to your list of feeders and receive postcards from them like it is your own feeder. However, if you want to add more than one feeder for more than 72 hours, you’ll need a Pro membership.
If you don’t want to add a feeder, you can still scroll through photos and videos from the community. It’s like social media just for bird content. Birdbuddy TV is a video feed of publicly shared videos from Bird Buddy users. Or you can scroll through photos from the community, applauding people’s results. You can even help identify species by tapping the Wingbuddy link at the top of the Community page.
Image & video quality
A bird feeder camera doesn’t do much good if the photos aren’t clear enough so you can actually see your avian visitors. The five-megapixel resolution may not seem very impressive, especially compared to smartphones and dedicated cameras. While you won’t be able to print these images to poster size by any means, the camera does offer plenty of quality for viewing on your phone.
The images are clear and sharp, especially when the bird hangs out on the perch. The camera can’t focus much closer than that, though. My main visitor liked to sit right in the birdseed, so it was frequently out of focus, but even still, I could see good amounts of detail with vibrant colors. The auto exposure overall does great, even in extremely high-contrast lighting situations. There were times that the bird was blurry from moving during the exposure, but that wasn’t the norm.
The Bird Buddy video quality is also really good. The footage is clear and well-exposed. If you want higher-quality video, you can upgrade to a Bird Buddy Pro membership, though I have not tested it, so I can’t comment on how much better that video looks.
So, who should buy the Bird Buddy Smart Bird Feeder?
Bird feeder cameras are becoming more and more popular, with new options seeming to pop up regularly. Spending $299 (for the solar roof version) may seem pricey for a bird feeder camera. But the Bird Buddy is priced similarly to other devices, including its closest competitor, the Netvue Birdfy Pro. So, what makes the Bird Buddy stand out?
The Bird Buddy includes a durable yet attractive build, an integrated solar panel for infinite battery life, multiple mounting options, and an easy-to-clean design with a removable camera, which gives it the edge for most users. It’s also remarkably easy to install, with essentially no assembly beyond popping the camera into the feeder. Add to that the easy-to-use and fun app with minimal features behind a paywall, and it takes a clear lead. It’s a connected device that makes you feel a bit more connected with the natural world. If you are interested in keeping an eye on the bird species in your area, it’s hard to beat Bird Buddy.