The best bird feeder cameras have brought birdwatching right up to date by making the technology smaller, more affordable and easy to use. Bird feeder cameras like the Netvue Birdfy Smart Bird Feeder camera make it easier than ever to watch the birds up close in your own backyard or garden. Thanks to improved camera technology and smartphone apps to go with them, you can now enjoy a very high-tech experience when it comes to your hobby.
The best lenses for bird photography are expensive and unwieldy and while capturing photographs of garden birds is fun, it's not always accessible to everyone. Let's look at how effective the Birdfy feeder camera is for interactive birdwatching, whatever your skill level with general photography.
Birdfy Feeder Camera specs
Angle of Field: 135°
Live Video: On Smartphone/Tablet
Motion Detection: Detection, real-time alerts, zone & time setting
Night Vision: Distance 10m
Bird Detection: Lifetime Free Plan
Cloud Replay: Charge
Storage: Micro SD Card, 16-128GB (Not included)
Camera dimensions: 89 x 58 x 59 mm
Camera Weight: 265g
Material: ABS (Body), Polycarbonate (Black sphere)
Power: Micro USB Power Cable DC5V 1A / Type C Power Cable DC5V 1A
Network Connection: 2.4G WIFI 802.11b/g/n
See also: Best bird box cameras
Birdfy Feeder Camera setup
Netvue's Birdfy feeder comes packaged in a fun box, and while I certainly wasn't expecting to see any parakeets landing on the feeder in my UK garden, it's a fun way to start the experience. When unboxing the product, you'll find that the main components – the feeder "roof," camera perch and camera are packaged separately, ready to be assembled.
Fortunately, assembly takes about five minutes, thanks to the straightforward instructions included in the box (and also online here), and then you have to pair the camera to your smartphone, over WiFi using the free Netvue app. I've got an iPhone 12, and this step took another ten minutes or so – again, very easy to do thanks to an easy walkthrough of steps. Even those less au-fait with using smartphone apps should find setup fairly straightforward.
The Birdfy Cam comes has a built-in Micro SD card slot that supports up to 128GB cards, and it's best to pop this into the camera before you mount it in the garden. You'll also need to charge up the camera fully at this point too, which is done with the included USB Type C cable. Although Netvue says that it takes about 14 hours to fully charge your camera, I found it had reached full capacity after just a few hours. When the camera is fully charged, the status light on the camera turns from yellow to solid green.
Lastly, you have to decide where to put the feeder camera – the location you choose is key, both in terms of attracting birds and staying connected. You need to position the bird feeder at least several meters above the ground, out of the reach of any local cats, and within range of your WiFi connection.
Netvue gives you a mounting bracket in the box, and I decided to nail the camera onto the front of my garden shed where it would be secure. There's even a drilling template provided so that you can mark the position of holes on your wall. By hanging the camera with two drill holes, there was no chance of it moving – even in high winds.
Birdfy Feeder Camera design & build
The Birdfy Feeder Camera is fun and colorful, but not exactly a natural, camouflaged design. The camera itself is smaller than a coffee cup, while the housing is large enough to contain plenty of bird seed.
The Netvue Birdfy camera has an IP65 waterproof rating, so even in rain and snow, it continues to work. I can attest to experiencing some incredibly grim British Weather over the past few months, and yet the camera looks as new.
I was skeptical about the plasticky design when I first assembled the camera, but it's incredibly robust and well constructed for its design. Every so often you'll have to take down the camera, remove the seed container and give it a good clean. Because the material is solid plastic, this helps with maintenance and washing.
Birdfy Feeder Camera features
It’s possible to set up the Netvue Birdfy camera to recognize birds when they land on the feeder (using an AI database) and send you a notification telling you what’s there. Tapping on this notification then takes you straight to the camera’s live feed, where you can hopefully watch the bird that’s landed.
Once you've got established birds visiting your garden, you want to avoid disturbing them and fiddling with the camera as much as possible. Thanks to the 6700mAh Battery inside the Birdfy camera, you rarely have to take down the camera and charge it. At the time of writing, I've had it installed for four months and have not had to recharge it once. Of course, my package also came with solar panels, and while I haven't tested these, they should extend the battery life of the device even further (non-stop battery power if you're lucky to live somewhere sunny).
Birdfy Feeder Camera performance
It took at least a month for birds to start visiting the Birdfy feeder camera in my garden, which was frustrating, but not the fault of the camera itself. You'll have to be patient when waiting for birds to start visiting and be mindful that it could take even longer if you don't already have established feeders in your garden.
To help things along, research which species of birds are likely to visit your location, and then find the best bird food – whether it's seeds, suet, or nuts – to attract them.
Now, let's move on to the performance of the camera itself. I'm going to assume that if you're interested in buying a bird feeder camera then, like me, you're into birdwatching. I can't tell you how exciting it is when the first notification comes through from the Netvue app to tell you that a bird has landed on the feeder, and simply tapping on this notification gives you a live feed of the camera.
The video quality at a resolution of 1920x1080P isn't groundbreaking, but it's more than enough to watch birds on your camera phone or tablet. Think of it as a decent bird webcam, and that's about the quality you get. What is great is the ability to download bird clips straight from the app, and then send them to family, friends, and/or your fellow bird nerds – something you'd be especially inclined to do if the bird feeder spotted a rare species. All your bird clips are captured, recorded, and saved in the Netvue cloud for future use.
Sample video from Netvue Birdfy camera
Netvue says that the Birdfy feeder camera can recognize more than 6000 bird species and share the species recognition with you. This AI technology doesn't always identify the correct species – often labeling my boyfriend in the garden as a nuthatch – although it's great when it does work (see image below).
I also noticed that my young puppy was regularly triggering notifications, but of course, you can turn off this feature if you think you’ll find it annoying. There are also different sensitivity settings that could help with the regularity of notifications, and confusing people for birds.
If you buy the cheaper Lite version of the Birdfy camera it doesn't include AI recognition, so this might be the better option if you're on a budget and already know your species well.
One thing I wasn't prepared for was how good the audio quality was, both when watching the live feed of the camera and saved video clips. Birdsong is crisp, clear, and joyful, really enhancing the birdwatching experience beyond what you get with stills photography. Thanks to two-way audio, you can use a siren to keep squirrels from stealing the bird seed. I'm not sure this would work, didn't get the opportunity to try it (and personally quite like squirrels) but it's a potentially handy feature to have to hand.
Sample screen from Netvue app
Birdfy Feeder Camera Verdict
Overall the Netvue Birdfy bird feeder camera is a fun and effective birdwatching gadget – when it works. If you want to save some money, opt for the Lite version, which is cheaper and comes without AI tech. After all, you could buy a bird guide for a fiver and use your photos and videos to identify the birds yourself.
The video quality is very good, and being able to hear bird songs clearly is a pleasing bonus. The price is also when you consider the plastic build quality, but actually, the feeder withstands rain and wind very well. There are few bird feeder cameras on the market that are so easy to set up and use, or which offer the same smartphone features and integration.
The camera would make a great gift for a wildlife enthusiast, bird lover, or even for parents who want to teach their children more about the birds visiting their garden. Don’t expect too much from the Netvue Birdfy Smart Bird Feeder Camera, and like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.