The Ultimate Guide: Bird Buddy Placement and Getting Postcards!
Welcome to the wonderful world of Bird Buddy!
We know that not everyone is a bird expert, and it can feel like it takes a “perfect recipe” to have a feeder full of visitors that come year-round. We’ve put together a guide for you to make sure your Bird Buddy is set up properly, in the right place, and active, with some key things in mind.
If you’re asking yourself…
... and more, then this is the place for you!
Birds Need Some Time to Nestle In… Patience is Key!
Once you’ve set up your Bird Buddy and picked the perfect spot, it may take some time to receive your first visitor or postcard. Don’t stress! This is normal and can happen for a variety of reasons.
It can take some time for birds to get used to new feeders. Birds are creatures of habit (out of safety and comfort!). A new feeder doesn’t attract birds over to it right away, no matter how delicious the food source might be. It can take days, weeks, or even months for birds to cozy up to a feeder that’s new in the neighborhood and drop their suspicion. But fear not, they will eventually find it!
You might also be seeing birds visit your Bird Buddy but not receive a postcard right away. We know this can be a bit frustrating, but it’s normal! We’ll get into that later in the section about how our AI & bird detection works.
It’s also important to remember that different times of the year result in different activity levels for birds when it comes to visiting a seed feeder. For example, in the Spring and Summer months, there is a higher abundance of natural, nutrient-rich food sources for birds, which means they are not looking for food in a feeder as often. Some species may even migrate, so the overall number of birds in your area could decrease. This is all very natural and your feeder will be there when they are back and ready.
Wi-Fi set up
Are you wondering ‘How far away can my Bird Buddy be from my Wi-Fi? ’ or how our Wi-Fi setup works?
You may have noticed while setting up your new Bird Buddy that one of the steps asks you to find the best spot using a Wi-Fi connection test. This is very important to ensure you are getting postcards!
You can check at any time within the app if you have a strong Wi-Fi signal by going into your app Settings and tapping on your feeder’s name. If the signal is poor, the device won’t be able to communicate efficiently with your app and trigger postcards to get delivered.
It’s important to note that Bird Buddy’s connectivity is supported by the wireless standard with a 2.4 GHz frequency, and will not be able to connect to 5GHz Wi-Fi (and such networks will not appear on the list of available networks during the pairing process). 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi generally provides more expansive coverage and will be able to extend the signal outside your living space. This frequency is much better for wall penetration and will work best for the signal reaching your outdoor Bird Buddy setup.
Lastly, Wi-Fi router strengths vary, but for most of our users, stability is ensured when your device is within 50 feet of your Wi-Fi router. The closer it is to the router, the better!
Is This Thing Even Working?
Our Bird Detection & AI Technology
Not All Birds (Photos) are Beautiful!
You may see birds at your feeder and your seeds being depleted and wonder, ‘Where are my darn postcards?! Why is my Bird Buddy not taking postcards? Is this thing broken?! ’ Don’t worry—there is a very good reason for this.
Our artificial intelligence technology has taken an incredible amount of time to build and is something we are continually improving. One of the big features we include in this technology is the ability to capture only what is interesting, rather than capture any and all movement that comes across. This means that we don’t capture every single bird that visits the feeder, especially if the visit is a bit too quick and blurry to capture. This saves you a lot of time and effort sifting through possibly thousands of photos that aren’t that great.
Within its logic, our bird detection technology will generally consider an image as interesting if it contains an in-focus view of a bird (if all the pictures in a given session are blurry, they will be considered “non-interesting” by the model). During this process, the model will begin to assess what is appearing in front of it. If the pictures are considered “non-interesting” (a picture might be too blurry, the bird might be too close to the camera, etc.), the model might not push the pictures to your feed; this is why sometimes you can see the “taking postcards” status in the app, but you don’t receive any postcards. We have trained our model to see an “interesting” image as something in which a bird is in the frame and in focus, and an image in which at least one eye and a beak are visible.
Additionally, it will not capture a photo if the bird is too far away—for example, some of our community members add DIY or non-Bird Buddy add-ons to their devices, and these may keep birds at a slightly further distance, not triggering our camera. Our cameras are very specifically calibrated for optimal capture based on Bird Buddy-designed add-ons and systems.
After the images are captured, they go through our bird detector model (which we also trained), which can currently identify up to 6 birds and up to 4 different species in the same image. Every detected bird in the image is then passed through our bird species classifier, which then identifies the bird! It will never be 100% perfect, but through machine learning, our system is improving every day!
What Should You Do With Other Feeders?
If you’re a seasoned bird lover, then you likely have one or two feeders already set up in your space. You might be wondering how to introduce a new feeder, or if you should take down your old feeder.
When you buy a new feeder, you may be tempted to take the old, worn-out ones down, but don’t jump to remove those! Using your old feeders can help your birds find the new one, and love it just as much.
Increasing your number of feeders is always a good idea. Once birds know that food is being offered in a consistent place, it will become a popular hot spot. However, sometimes that popularity can have a downside. Too many creatures in extremely close proximity at one time can create the perfect storm for the transmission of diseases, another reason why having more than one feeder can be enticing for birds! Removing the competition and upping the food supply will help in the long run, while also keeping your feeders clean, full, and sanitized often.
Additionally, if you have had regular visits to your old feeder, this means that the birds have had a safe experience there and can trust it. This will be a continuous motivator for birds to come back, and eventually feel comfortable with a new feeder in their area. Swapping brand-new feeders for the old ones can create confusion as they will look, feel, and smell differently. If you can still use the old one, gradually reduce the amount of food you put in, at the same time as increasing food in the new one, and monitor your activity from there. After a week or so of the new one being used, you can take away the older one if needed.
You can also try placing your new feeder close to your old one and setting out more food in your new feeder than you do in the old one. Gradually, move the new feeder further away from the old one and increase the amount of food in your old one again when you see birds following the new one.
Location, Location, Location!
Where should I place my Bird Buddy for the best results?
Are there places for birds to hide such as branches, undergrowth, or hedges? Birds are always on the lookout for bigger predators lurking around, so having some coverage is very helpful. Placing a feeder way out in the open might help you to see the birds better, but it could be a frightening red flag for them.
Is there a chance of a lot of movement with this location? Be sure to minimize this as much as possible and introduce stability. Birds aren’t too keen on swinging all over the place when trying to grab a bite. Too much movement can be difficult to balance on, and make the food source not worth the attempt.
Is there a lot of “background noise”? Too much movement near, around, or in front of the feeder can sometimes interfere with the AI detection. If there are too many branches or leaves constantly moving in close proximity to the camera or near in view while birds are visiting, it may not generate postcards the same way.
Are there places that have coverage where a bird could possibly nest? This is a wonderful thing for birds to have close by come breeding season, and having food and safety will be a big motivation.
Do other predators have access to this location, such as cats or foxes? If you are mounting your feeder onto a fence or a wall, be especially mindful of the height you place this at so birds are not at risk. Higher up is better and less vulnerable for birds and makes them feel safer.
Are there windows or shiny reflections close to your feeder? Try to keep feeders at least 10 feet away from windows, so that birds won’t hit a window or injure themselves when trying to land. If you need to place the feeder closer to a window or on your house, you can do so, but try to make sure a reflective surface is not directly behind the feeder so it does not confuse the birds.
How’s the lighting? If your Bird Buddy is in a particularly poorly-lit area, the camera might have a hard time capturing enough detail to be able to identify the bird and create a postcard. It is also helpful to face your camera due North, if possible, as we have seen the best results in this position.
Fine Dining & Meal Planning
What should I put in my feeder?
What are the best bird seeds for Bird Buddy?
Stock your feeders with the finest seeds known to….bird. The best kinds of seed can vary at certain times of the year, and can especially vary if you are hoping to attract a specific type of species. We have a great Bird Seed Guide to walk you through which seed offerings work best. Our biggest tip? Don’t skimp on the expense!
Many store-bought seed mixes contain items that birds just don’t want to eat, such as wheatgrass kernels, split peas, beans, dried rice, or lentils. These are only added to bulk up the mix—so you’re paying for something that birds simply won’t eat, and will fall and rot on the ground below instead. With birds losing necessary nutrients and you losing money, it’s best to just stay away from these types of mixes. It’s always beneficial to pay a little more for a mix that you know contains the right stuff. Your feeder could be prime real estate with a comfortable setup and beautiful surroundings, but if the food on display isn’t fit for your bird friends, no one will come by. And believe us, word will spread! The same way it will if the food is top-notch.
One of the most important things to note here is to be sure that you fill up the seed all the way to the top as you can see in the “brand new feeder” photo below. Seed level almost in line with the perch is best, as this prevents the birds from having to move deeper into the seed tray to get their food, and moving closer to the camera can make photos out of focus. When birds get used to the new feeder, they will remain on it much longer and be calmer, even if the seed level is lower later on.
Brand new feeder
In the Summer months when the food supply is high, sometimes the water supply can be low. With high temperatures and extreme heat, birds are often out and about searching for a quick drink or a dip. Adding a bird bath near your setup will help entice birds nearby to notice your feeder.
Pro-tip: Add some small rocks into the basin of the bird bath so the birds feel more comfortable landing in something that looks more natural.
If you are part of our Facebook Community or follow us on Social Media, you may have seen that some Bird Buddy users have a slightly different or unique setup. Some people put out small cups of jelly or jam (or orange slices!) to attract larger birds of a different variety, while others drill a long branch into the landing platform, so there is more space for birds to land, naturally perch, or gather. You might have even seen some special accessories that people make on Etsy to spruce up your feeder and attract more birds. We’re all for creative ideas, and some people find great success by trying something of the sort!
Explore our blog for more tips!
We’ve got hundreds of articles to help you learn about birds, and how to get the most out of your Bird Buddy!
Following along with these tips are sure to help you and your bird friends! If you’re following these steps and it’s been a while since you’ve had a visitor or postcard, feel free to reach out to our Support Team so we can help take a look at your setup.