A few weeks ago I was sent a bird feeder, not just any old bird feeder, but one with a built in camera. It takes photos of any bird feeding at it and send the photo of the bird along with its identification. Sounds pretty good, huh? There are several bird cameras on the market that take photos of birds at the feeder or at the nest and transmit the pictures to your phone, but I don’t know of any that claim to identify the species as well.
Well, after receiving the feeder and putting it together, I tried to download the software. It apparently downloaded but wouldn’t install on my iPad or iTouch. Since the software itself was reviewed as mediocre with only two stars I figured that was the problem. But not as up to snuff as my granddaughter on this techy stuff, I asked her and her boyfriend to try to figure this thing out. After buying a small memory chip for $15, they managed to upload and install the software and then put the bird feeder in a tree to see what happens. No photos so far, even after putting a picture of a bird in front of the camera as the manufacturer suggested.
This piece of high tech just came out, so one would expect a few bugs, but this doesn’t work at all for us. The company asked me how successful it was and after several emails back and forth in which I described my issues, they at first offered advice and then went silent. So the birdhouse camera sits there today, non-functioning.
I’m not going to give the brand name or the company that made it as they were kind enough to give me a free sample, but I clearly can’t endorse it, especially at a price exceeding $150. Maybe someday my granddaughter or the manufacturer will figure out a solution.
I’m sure such a tech toy for bird identification is possible these days as the software gets refined, but I wonder why it purports to identify 1000 species. There aren’t that many in North America north of Mexico, so I figured it included some Mexican species. But the ads I saw for it show an American bluebird and Red-breasted Nuthatch, and photos of a Blue Tit and European Robin, European residents. Makes me wonder what its criteria are for identification.
The data the camera collects also contributes to an open-source platform tracking bird populations to help conservation efforts, also including your location. If you’re not big on sharing that type of data, this bird feeder might not be for you. Knowing the location of the feeder helps conservationists track bird populations but not everyone would be comfortable with that data going into cyberspace.
I’m not a fan of most of these high-tech gadgets, but I don’t have any issue with them either. I occasionally use Sibley’s bird guide on my iTouch, but only use the sound to identify a bird I hear, not call one out of the brush. Somehow, using binoculars and a bird book seems just fine to me.