Internet of Things devices and CES go hand in hand, but the Bird Buddy Smart Hummingbird Feeder is in a category that’s entirely new to me. Sure, I’ve been aware of devices that are meant to feed and monitor the animals that live inside your house, but I’m still somehow surprised (and delighted) to discover that there are companies doing the same for the animals outside your house as well.
As its name implies, this device is meant to hang outside your house and provide delicious nectar to the local birds, and Bird Buddy says it’s designed specifically to prevent leakages and mold. But unlike the standard $20 or $30 hummingbird feeders, the Bird Buddy includes a motion sensor-activated camera that will take pictures and video when a bird visits. Then, according to the company’s press release, it’ll use AI to determine which species the hummingbird is — it’s supposed to be able to identify up to 350 different types. (As far as I’m aware, that’s almost all of them). You’ll then get a notification from its app about what kind of visitor came to your feeder.
Bird Buddy hasn’t released pricing for its hummingbird feeder yet, nor does its press release mention how often you’ll have to charge it. It does mention that it’ll be compatible with the solar roof accessory that the company built for its original Smart Camera Bird Feeder.
Speaking of that device, which focuses on seeds rather than nectar but includes similar AI features, it’s worth noting that Bird Buddy’s reputation isn’t exactly proven at this point. It launched its first feeder in 2020 via crowdfunding campaigns, and you can’t actually outright buy it yet; currently, its site says preorders are expected to ship around April 2023. The company has apparently run into a few bumps while trying to make the device; on December 21st, the company posted an update called “Shipping & Our Renewed Commitment” to Kickstarter, saying that it had gotten around 80 percent of its orders fulfilled and acknowledging that it had “dropped the ball” when it came to communication and customer support.
The good news is that there are other companies making bird feeders with cameras on them. (Despite the fact that I’m in the exact target market for this type of product — I routinely cover IoT devices for work, once used up half a roll of film trying to capture a hummingbird using the feeder on my dad’s porch, and use my spare time to help set up trail cams — this is the first time many of my co-workers and I have ever heard about smart bird feeders as a category.) This one from Amazon also promises to automatically identify what type of birds visit it, as does this one, which can hold both seed and nectar.
As with the Bird Buddy, I can’t really personally vouch for either of these products, but I am delighted to learn that they exist and have already made a note to check back in on them the next time I need to research gifts for my parents or more nature-y friends.
PS: if you love taking pictures of unsuspecting wildlife, please check out this excellent video from my colleague Becca Farsace about that very subject.