Raspberry Pi Smart Bird Feeder Identifies Feathered Dinner Guests

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Hermy65)

With summertime in full swing for those of us in the northern hemisphere, it’s common to hear quite a symphony of birds outside. If you’re not an avid birdwatcher, it can be hard to tell which ones are which. That’s where projects like this one come in from maker and developer Hermy65, as he’s known as over at Reddit. Using our favorite SBC, the Raspberry Pi, Hermy65 has created a smart bird feeder that uses machine learning to identify the birds that stop by for a snack.

According to Hermy65, the project is an amalgam of open-source tools that others created that work in tandem to help bring his final project idea to fruition. The original concept was to create a bird feeder that lures in unsuspecting guests with tasty food. A camera then captures an image of the avian visitor and processes the image to determine what species of bird it is.

Hermy65 goes on to explain that the Pi is running a server locally. It sends information is detects over to an application called Frigate used for object detection. Using MQTT, the data from Frigate then goes to another tool called WhosAtMyFeeder which then analyzes the image to determine the bird species.

As far as hardware goes, Hermy65 is using a Raspberry Pi 3B model, but you could easily use a Raspberry Pi 4 or something even smaller like a Pi Zero W. All you need is a Pi with Wi-Fi access, as the data is transmitted to another machine for processing. The project also uses a Raspberry Pi camera module—specifically a fish eye lens. The official Raspberry Pi Camera module v3 or the Global Shutter camera (designed for high-speed images) would be perfect for this task. The project is housed together in a 3D-printed enclosure which is available over at Printables and easily printable on the best 3D printers.

A complete list of software used in the project is available over at the project page at Printables. It includes Who’s At My Feeder?, Frigate (which relies on both OpenCV and Tensorflow), and Docker.

If you want to get a closer look at this Raspberry Pi project or just get a better idea of how it goes together, check it out over at Printables. There you’ll not only find the 3D printable files for the bird feeder but all the details behind how it works.

Ash Hill
Contributing Writer

Ash Hill is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.

  • bit_user
    During the recent bird flu outbreak that devastated a large portion of the poultry stock (egg prices, anyone?), I head the advice that people should take down their bird feeders. It's better if you can promote a habitat friendly to birds, than to have fixtures like feeders or baths which could help spread diseases.

    It would be cool if you had some way to integrate a bird flu detector into a feeder, and could automatically shut down the feeder once an infected bird has used it. Then, the owner could sterilize it before putting it back up for use.