In the market for a smart bird feeder but not sure which brand to choose? If you’ve been researching smart feeders you’ve probably heard of Netvue as it’s the most popular brand. But did you know there are other brands of smart bird feeders such as the isYoung?
I set up the isYoung smart bird feeder camera in my yard and tested it for almost a month. I wanted to find out how it compared with the other smart bird feeders I tested.
Based on my hands-on experience with the isYoung Smart Bird Feeder, I recommend it if:
- You would like close-up views of the birds.
- You want a combination feeder/camera setup rather than a separate camera and feeder.
- You’re a handy, mechanically inclined person who can easily assemble pieces without instructions and navigate your way around apps that are not intuitive.
- You’re not interested in the AI feature because it only works in live mode (not during video playback). Also, because this feature only works in live mode I wasn’t able to verify its accuracy in identifying the bird species.
I do not recommend it if:
- You’re the type of person who relies on documentation to install and use new equipment. The manual was unclear, not in any particular order, and made no mention of how to assemble or use the app.
- You already have a security system in place (e.g. Blink or Wyze) in which case you can simply point a camera at a feeder and save money.
- You’re interested in the AI feature because it only works in live mode which defeats the purpose of capturing video of the birds.
I’ve been a backyard birder for more than 25 years. About 5 years ago I started using bird feeder cameras to refine my knowledge of their feeding behaviors. Just last year I started testing smart bird feeders, the type that identify the bird species on the feeder.
Buying Guide: What To Look For When Buying A Bird Feeder Camera
When purchasing a smart bird feeder there are several key factors to consider. They’re listed below:
Key Factors for Choosing a Smart Bird Feeder with Camera
- Weather-resistant so the rain, snow, and wind don’t destroy it. Look for an IP rating of 65 or better.
- Good image quality so you’re able to clearly see the species of bird and what it’s doing. Look for HD video with 1080p.
- Wireless (Wi-Fi) connectivity so you don’t have to run ugly outdoor approved extension cords to the bird feeder.
- Easy to set up so you can start enjoying the birds quickly rather than studying the installation manual.
- Easy & convenient to view the images so you don’t have to bother your teenager every time you want to see what the birds have been up to, or so you don’t have to get out of your jammies to run outside for the memory card.
- Look for a camera with a smartphone app to view images from anywhere vs one that stores images on a memory device (SD card or jump drive). Memory devices require you to retrieve the memory device before viewing.
- Motion detection so you’re only capturing images when a bird is on the feeder which saves on power and time when you want to go back and view the recordings.
- Long battery life so you’re not spending a fortune on batteries and wasting time replacing the batteries.
- AI capability to identify the species at the feeder.
Optional Factors for Choosing a Bird Feeder Camera
Depending on your personal preferences or circumstances, I identified a few optional factors you may want to consider as well.
- Price because we don’t all have a money tree in the backyard.
- Solar powered so you can save money on batteries
- Audio because you want to hear what your feathered friends are tweeting.
- Night vision because you want to capture the birds early in the morning and late in the evening.
- Notifications because you want to see what was happening at your feeder moments ago.
- Zoom capability is a nice feature especially if the image is too small to make out the bird details.
- No subscription is required so you spend less.
- Warranty to safeguard your purchase.
isYoung Smart Bird Feeder Review
Unlike many of the bird feeder cameras I’ve tested and reviewed, the isYoung model is unique because the feeder and camera are in one unit. For this reason, it’s ideally suited for someone who wants a combination feeder/camera setup.
Most of the cameras are just a camera – no feeder and no AI.
AI (Artificial Intelligence)
The isYoung has an AI (artificial intelligence) feature that identifies the species of bird at the feeder. This is also known as a “smart bird feeder”.
Does The isYoung Smart Bird Feeder have the Key Factors?
The isYoung Smart Bird Feeder camera meets some of the key factors I previously outlined in the Buying Guide. Here’s a summary:
|Make & Model||isYoung Smart Bird Feeder BF002|
|Weather-resistant||Yes – Despite the useless documentation, assembling the feeder/camera unit and connecting the camera to Wi-Fi was easy. If you’re one that relies on documentation to set up equipment, you will be disappointed.|
|Good image quality||Yes – it captured video and images with good quality. Check out the videos below.|
|Wireless connectivity||Yes, it’s IP65 waterproof. The feeder/camera was able to function properly under various weather conditions in my yard including rain, sun, snow, and strong winds. (Yes, we have rain, snow, and sun in Wisconsin within a 1-month span).|
|Easy to set up||Not great. The smart feeder camera was accompanied by a Product Manual that covered FAQs, the included parts, and mounting instructions. However, it lacked guidance on assembling the feeder/camera and using the app. |
Despite the useless documentation, connecting the camera to Wi-Fi was easy.
|Easy & convenient to use||Not the best. Installing the app was straightforward, but the manual lacked instructions on how to navigate and utilize its features, and I found it to be less intuitive. Through trial and error, I eventually figured out how to access and review the videos after exploring various options (taking into account my prior experience with using and testing other smart feeders).|
|Motion detection||Yes – Once it was set up and installed in my yard, I found it did a great job of detecting the birds via motion and videoing them while on the feeder.|
|Long battery life||Not great. I set up the isYoung Smart Bird Feeder in my yard on April 10th. After continued use, the battery was dead by April 30th. That’s only about 3 weeks. The good news is the battery can be recharged via USB but requires you to bring it into the house, clean it, and then charge it.|
The isYoung meets some of the optional factors as follows:
Price: The isYoung is at the lower end of the other smart bird feeders saving you around $20.
Solar powered: The isYoung includes a solar panel. However, I did not test it.
Audio: Audio is included.
Night vision: No (presumably) Neither the app nor the documentation referenced anything about night vision.
Notifications Yes, it sends notifications when a bird has been detected.
Zoom capability: No (presumably) Neither the app nor the documentation referenced anything about Zoom.
Subscription requirement: A subscription is not required to use the basic functionality including viewing, sharing, and species identification. However, a subscription fee is required for cloud storage functionality. At the time of publishing, the subscription fees were: $4.49/14 days or $6.99/30 days.
Warranty: One-year Warranty
AI capability: The isYoung was able to identify the bird species correctly most of the time. However, I was disappointed when I learned the bird identification feature is limited to the Live View mode. In other words, when the system records a video of the bird and you play it back, the bird identification feature is not available.
There are at least three significant drawbacks to restricting the bird ID feature solely to live mode:
- It requires being in live mode at the right moment when a bird happens to appear. Given that not everyone spends a significant amount of time observing birds through the app in live mode, the likelihood of encountering a bird during this time is low.
- Identifying a bird requires requesting the identification using the bird icon, but there is only a brief window of opportunity to do so. Once the bird flies away, which it inevitably will, the opportunity for identification is lost. Alternatively, capturing a photo of the bird in live-view mode is an option, but it demands impeccable timing.
- The majority of users will typically utilize the smart bird feeder to view recorded videos of the birds, rather than relying on live observations.
Below are two examples of the isYoung Smart Bird Feeder’s accurate IDs.
The isYoung smart feeder correctly identifies the female northern cardinal.
Users can tap Learn More to be redirected to Wikipedia for more info on the northern cardinal.
The isYoung smart feeder correctly identifies the house finch.
Users can tap Learn More to be redirected to Wikipedia for more info on the house finch.
And, here are some examples of incorrect bird identification by the isYoung.
The smart feeder made an incorrect ID on this house finch. In its defense, the back of a bird’s head would trip anyone up.
Here’s another misID. It’s a house sparrow but the face isn’t showing. At least the ID was in the same family of birds – finch!
The isYoung provides a mounting bracket for mounting the device to a tree, post, or other location you can screw into.
For testing in my yard, I wedged the until between branches in a tree. Surprisingly it remained in place despite the gale-force winds it endured one day.
Actual Video Captured
I loved the close-ups this feeder/camera combo was able to capture of the birds. Below is a sampling of videos I captured.
The isYoung smart bird feeder fulfills certain criteria, although it falls short in some areas. The captured video provides clear and close-up footage, but the setup instructions proved to be of limited value. While the battery drains quickly, it is rechargeable, alleviating the need for frequent battery replacements.
The AI feature demonstrates fairly accurate bird species identification; however, it operates exclusively in live mode, which limits its usefulness unless one intends to continuously monitor the live feed in anticipation of bird sightings.
I recommend the isYoung smart bird feeder if:
- You desire up-close views of birds.
- You prefer a combined feeder and camera setup instead of separate devices.
- You possess mechanical aptitude and can easily assemble components without relying on instructions. Additionally, you are comfortable navigating through less intuitive apps.
- The AI feature is not a priority for you due to its limitation to live mode.
I do not recommend it if:
- You heavily rely on documentation for installing and operating new equipment. The manual provided unclear instructions, lacked a specific order, and failed to address assembly or app usage.
- You already have a functional security system in place (such as Blink or Wyze) and can simply position a camera toward the feeder, thus saving money.
- The AI feature is of interest to you, as it solely operates in live mode, which undermines the purpose of capturing video footage of the birds. In such cases, I suggest checking out my review of the Netvue Birdfy Smart Bird Feeder.
I set up and used the isYoung Smart Bird Feeder in my yard for almost a month. While the initial setup was relatively intuitive, the documentation provided was of no use. It provided no instructions for how to use the app or any useful FAQs – at least for the issues I ran into.
(I’ve since discovered an FAQ document and additional manual available for download from the product listing on Amazon. The FAQ also lists their customer support email: [email protected]).
Once installed I was pleasantly surprised at the closeup view and quality of the camera, but the battery life was abysmal. After less than a month of use, the battery died. If you live in a sun-shiny area you can use the solar panel (included) to save on battery usage.
The AI feature did a good job of identifying the house finch that happened to be on the feeder while I was in Live View mode. Unfortunately, the AI feature is not available while playing back video.
I recommend the isYoung Smart Bird Feeder if you’re a birdwatcher who wants to feed the birds and observe them up close but doesn’t want to mess around with a bird feeder and separate camera.
I do not recommend the isYoung Smart AI Recognition Bird Feeder if:
- You already have a separate outdoor camera system (i.e. Blink, Wyze, etc) or plan to get one. Instead, you should just invest in another camera and point it at your feeder.
- You want to identify the bird species while in video playback mode since it only works in Live View.
What do you think? Would you use the isYoung Smart Bird Feeder? Why or why not? Leave your comment below!