Birdwatching comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are birders whose passion and purpose is bird photography. They may sit in the same position for hours, waiting to snap the perfect shot. Some birders are life list junkies. They travel the globe hoping to experience a rare and highly anticipated encounter with a bird they’ve never seen before. Most birders are more casual — though no less passionate. For many, the birdwatching hobby begins with the feeder.
Birdfeeders give us an up-close glimpse into the lives of the birds all around us. Feeders are a fantastic way to get acquainted with the so-called “backyard birds” that inhabit your environment. Most feeder visitors are fairly common, but this doesn’t make their visits any less special or meaningful to those of use who enjoy feeder watching.
Now, an AI-powered app aims to bring the magic of feeder watching straight to your smartphone. IF you’re interested in birding and birdfeeders, you may have already heard of Bird Buddy. Bird Buddy is a startup offering birdfeeders with AI technology that records and identifies feeder visitors. One of the selling points of this product is that it provides an easy entry-point into feeder watching for new birders who may be intimidated by the identification process.
Another major selling point is the Bird Buddy app. This application allows you to remotely explore birdfeeders form around the world. The app provides access to live bird visits, snapshots, and educational information for birds around the globe. This means that a birdwatcher in Alaska may choose to watch a South American feeder for year-round access to colorful birds of paradise.
The AI technology and the application format might be new, but Bird Buddy’s concept probably feels familiar if you’re a birding enthusiast. The popular Merlin app created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has been a favorite of birders for years thanks to its skill at identifying birds based on photos, calls, songs, and descriptions.
Nest cams, feeder cams, and livestreams are not new either. Every year, organizations and individuals share live feeds with their fellow birdwatchers from around the world. Some nest cams, like the famous UC Berkeley Falcon cam, attract widespread attention. Others may generate only modest local buzz. What’s so interesting about Bird Buddy isn’t its usage of these tried and true concepts, but the way that it encourages every feeder watcher to share their experience.
In a time when citizen science is becoming a trusted source of data for bird conservation, there is no telling what potential insights we might gain from resources like Bird Buddy.