What is a Smart Bird Feeder? Your Complete Guide

A smart bird feeder is an advanced version of a traditional bird feeder that contains a camera inside to capture images of the birds (video and photographs) and also leverages AI technology to identify the species visiting the feeder.


Continue reading to explore the world of smart bird feeders. You’ll learn about their essential components, how they function, their advantages, and whether the additional cost is worth it.

I’ve watched birds in my yard for over 25 years and tried out four types of smart bird feeders since 2022. So, I know a bit about them.

What is a Smart Bird Feeder with Camera?

As mentioned, smart bird feeders are high-tech bird feeders that video the birds and tell you what bird is visiting the feeder.

There are three key components of a smart bird feeder. They include the bird feeder, camera, and smartphone app.

isyoung smart bird feeder camera
Isyoung smart bird feeder with camera brand.

The bird feeder and camera are combined into a single enclosed unit. This unique design enables the device to get very close to the birds. As a result, the images captured provide impressive detail of the birds which is necessary for the app to identify the species.

Using AI technology, the smart feeder’s app analyzes the photos or videos to identify the species. In addition to identifying the bird species, most smart bird feeder apps also link to the bird species’ Wikipedia page to learn more about it.

How Does a Smart Bird Feeder Work?

There are a variety of smart bird feeder brands available. Each one has its own smartphone app that functions just a bit differently from the other.

Below is a step-by-step overview of how smart bird feeders work in a typical scenario.

  1. Motion is detected
  2. Activity is recorded
  3. The user is notified
  4. The user views the video
  5. User requests identification
  6. Bird species identification

1. Motion is detected

When a bird lands on or near the smart bird feeder, sensors detect the presence or motion of the bird. In some cases, wildlife other than a bird will trigger the motion detection (squirrel, raccoon, etc).

2. Activity is recorded

Once the sensors detect activity at the feeder, they activate the recording function of the smart bird feeder. The duration and intervals of the recorded video are dependent on the smart bird feeder app settings.

3. user is notified

The app notifies the user there is activity at the feeder. This is done through the smartphone’s standard notifications functionality combined with settings on the smart bird feeder app.

4. user views the video

The user opens the app and plays the video.

YouTube video

5. User Requests Bird Identification

If the user wants to know the bird species they invoke the ID feature on the app. In the example below, the user taps the bird icon below the image.

smart bird feeder app screen to request bird identification

The ability to view recorded videos often requires the camera to have a Micro SD card installed or a cloud subscription to be purchased from the smart feeder manufacturer. 

6. Bird species identification

Using advanced image recognition technology, the app analyzes the photo or video frames to identify the bird species.

If an identification is made the app lets you know the bird species name. Depending on the smart bird feeder app, the name either displays along with a link to the bird species’ Wikipedia page, or you’re automatically directed to the Wikipedia page.

northern cardinal wikipedia page
Northern Cardinal Wikipedia page

If the app was not able to ID the bird it presents a message indicating so.

The ability to identify the bird species often requires the camera to have a Micro SD card installed or a cloud subscription to be purchased from the smart feeder manufacturer. 

Depending on the scenario and brand of a smart bird feeder, the steps may vary. For example, some systems will allow you to request bird identification when in live mode or from a static photo while others do not.

How do you use a smart bird feeder with a camera?

  1. Charge the camera.
  2. Assemble the bird feeder and camera device.
  3. Fill the feeder with bird food.
  4. Install the smartphone app and connect to Wi-FI.
  5. Add the camera to the app. 
  6. Mount the smart bird feeder in your yard.
  7. Configure the app (notifications, motion detection…)
  8. Wait for a notification from the app letting you know a bird has been detected.
  9. Open the app, and view the recorded activity.
  10. Request bird identification.
  11. Learn a new bird species!

Are smart bird feeder cameras worth it?

Unlike traditional bird feeders, smart bird feeders are more expensive. Depending on the brand, features, and optional components, they can range from $150 – $300. This is no small investment so wondering if bird smart bird feeders are worth it is a fair question. 

When smart bird feeders were first introduced several years ago, bird identification accuracy was pretty miserable. At that time, smart bird feeders were not worth the money. 

However, the technology has made great strides since these clever feeders were first introduced and in my experience make accurate bird identifications more often than not. 

I’ve found the systems misidentify most often when the images are not ideal. In fact, if you personally viewed the images and couldn’t identify the species then the smart feeder wouldn’t be able to either. 

I think certain smart bird feeders with cameras are worth it. 

Next Steps

If you’re interested in buying a smart bird feeder but not sure where to begin, check out my article The Best Smart Bird Feeder Available in 2023. I set up and tested 3 different smart bird feeder brands in my yard and spill the beans on how they fared. I also reveal the key factors you should consider when buying a smart bird feeder.


In conclusion, smart bird feeders have changed the way we enjoy watching birds in our backyards. These clever devices use cameras and apps to let us see birds up close and learn about different species.

Using a smart bird feeder with a camera is simple: just set it up, connect it to the app, and watch the birds on your phone or tablet.

Although they may cost a bit more, smart bird feeders with cameras are a great investment for bird lovers. They help us identify birds accurately and learn more about them. So, if you want to bring the joy of birdwatching right to your fingertips, try a smart bird feeder and discover the wonders of nature in your own backyard. Enjoy watching those beautiful birds!

More than 25 years ago, Tammy put her first bird feeder outside her kitchen window. Since then she learned how to attract wild birds to her backyard. Studying the meaning & symbolism of wild birds is also a passion of hers. Read more about Tammy