Birdwatching is one of the fastest growing outdoor hobbies in the world.
That stat surprised us, too.
Sure, we're aware that people like spying on birds, but we'd never have put it up there with jogging or fishing or drinking by the pool.
This trend accelerated during the pandemic, which makes sense—there wasn't much else to do. And its appeal is no longer just for retirees in funny hats. The pastime is attracting younger crowds, and that's likely to continue as birdwatching gets the "smart" treatment.
Bird Buddy is a smart bird feeder that notifies you of feathered visitors, takes their photos and organizes them into a digital collection. The company's successful crowdfunding campaign was backed by more than 34,000 people and raised more than eight million dollars. Which further confirms that people are way more into birds than we realized. Pre-orders are live now and products are expected to ship in September.
As far as bird feeders go, Bird Buddy looks pretty normal. It's available in blue or yellow, it can be placed upright in your yard or mounted to a wall or fence, and it has a container for holding and distributing seeds. That's where the normal aspect of all this ends. Because the feeder has an optional solar panel roof that can power this thing. It also has a high-resolution camera, a built-in microphone, and it's equipped with artificial intelligence.
Bird Buddy will notify you whenever a bird stops by. The feeder's built-in camera snaps close-up pictures of each visitor, so even if you miss a rare bird, you'll have visual evidence. You can also control the camera with your phone, moving it around for the best views.
If you're not yet a pro ornithologist, don't fret: the feeder does the identification work for you. After recognizing and photographing a bird, it will analyze the image (it currently recognizes more than 1,000 species) and tell you what you're looking at. It will then save the bird into a digital catalogue that you can reference at your leisure.
All this may feel like cheating. But birdwatching is a cutthroat game.