When a feathery friend lands on your Bird Buddy, you will receive a notification on your phone (unless you disable notifications in the app). In the feed section of the app, you will be greeted with a postcard. Once you click on the treasure chest, you'll find that it contains a selection of bird photos that have been taken by Bird Buddy: some sessions will also produce a video, in which case the video will be displayed before the pictures.
- The Postcard feature doesn’t work if the camera module is not placed into the feeder housing.
- Postcards can't be created while you're checking your live stream (and you won't be able to enter the stream either if Bird Buddy is in the postcard-creating mode).
- For the Postcards feature to work, the module needs at least a 12% battery.
- If you want to take a break from receiving the photos, you can do so by switching on the “Go Off-Grid” option in the Feeder Settings.
In this article, you can find out more about:
- Postcard creation process
- Collecting photos and videos
- What happens if the model doesn't recognize the bird?
What happens if a squirrel or other animals visit Bird Buddy?
Postcard creation process
The main goal of the postcard feature is for the app to deliver you awesome bird photos from your Bird Buddy. To ensure only the best shots are pushed to your feed, Bird Buddy's deep learning model uses two techniques.
Firstly, the visiting bird has to trigger the laser motion detector that projects like a cone from the center of the lens, so the bird has to hang out relatively near to the center of the perch to trigger it.
Secondly, once the motion sensor is triggered, photos and videos are recorded. Once the media is prepared by the camera, the bird-recognizing model decides whether the elements in the pictures are “interesting” or not. Within its logic, it 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 identify the bird species. 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.
For the optimal postcard flow, we suggest filling the seed tray up to the brim with seeds as this tends to contribute to the birds landing on the right spot for the model to recognize the images as interesting.
We're continuously fine-tuning the way the trigger and camera work via firmware updates, and we're also updating the bird-recognizing model. For the best experience, make sure that your camera is running the latest firmware version.
There are still a few important things to note that can significantly impact your ability to get postcards.
- 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. Please see our article with some tips on how to optimize image quality.
- If your Wi-Fi signal is too weak, your Bird Buddy might have a hard time uploading the images it captures to our servers. Make sure your Bird Buddy is within your network range: you can always consider moving the feeder closer to your internet access point.
- It can take a while for birds to become comfortable with the new feeder. For the first few days, sometimes even weeks, birds can be somewhat suspicious of the new item and are not comfortable spending some time on the perch eating seeds. During this period, it is possible that birds are simply too quick to fly away, and Bird Buddy doesn’t get the opportunity to take a good photo.
- On the flip side, birds could also be all up in the feeder and blocking the camera, preventing it from getting a good shot.
- Especially after a rainy day, it is possible for some dirt to get stuck to the camera or the sensor by a visiting bird, so you should make sure to clean it regularly with a dry cloth.
- Moving objects close to the feeder could be triggering the sensor and creating false sessions when there are no birds around.
- Our model, in part, makes predictions based on the location. If your location is not set correctly, that could be why you’re not getting postcards.
Collecting photos and videos (the bird is recognized)
Here, you can learn how to collect photos and videos from a postcard. Please note that your experience of the app may involve a combination of all the flows described below. This means that during a single postcard session, you may receive multiple species of birds, including ones that are recognized and ones that are not, as well as other animals like squirrels. As a result, you may experience a mixed picture-collecting flow.
Once you click on the treasure box in your feed, you will go through a series of steps to save the pictures and video from the postcard session.
When you open the postcard and if the AI has recognized the bird or birds in the session, you will immediately be introduced to the video and photo-collecting flow. (If you think the model did a mistake, click the "Wrong bird?” option at the bottom of the screen, which will take you to the unrecognized bird flow described later in this article).
- First, keep or discard the video of the session (it can only belong to one species for now. Please note that not every session will produce a video)
- Select the photos you’d like to keep. A simple swiping motion lets you decide which ones are the keepers and which ones you want to discard from a given session in the postcards:
- If you’d like to keep a photo, swipe right on it. You can also click on the checkmark or the X symbol in order to save or discard the pic.
- If you do not want it saved, swipe left.
- If you make a mistake and swipe the wrong way by accident, you can always tap on the arrow below the selection gallery to return to previous photos and repeat the selection process.
After this, you land on a recap screen where you see all the photos and videos you decided to keep. You now have two options:
- Save all selected media to private Collections
- Save all selected media to private Collection & share them with the community; this will make your pictures visible in the public part of the gallery (You can't retroactively share media with the community for now, so you have to decide at this point if you want to share the pictures. However, you can remove the picture from the community: you have to find it within the community folder and remove it there.)
After selecting either saving option, you are redirected to the Collections section of the app.
What happens if the model doesn't recognize the bird?
Option 1: Even though most visitors to your feeders will be recognized from the get-go, you will also encounter cases where the model isn't 100% sure who the visitor is.
In case the AI is not entirely sure about the species, you will first get asked to help it out yourself by selecting the correct bird for every picture from the session from a list of potential matches we provide.
You will notice that some suggestions have the spotted but not recognized tag: If the bird was recognized on one of the pictures in the session, it will give you the option to select it for the unrecognized images as well because it's very likely it's the same bird.
Option 2: If you don’t see the correct species on the list immediately, you can also tap the “None of the above” option to search manually through our database.
Option 3: In case you're unsure about the species, or if that specific bird is not yet in our database, you can also send the picture in for expert review (it will be residing in the Mystery visitor folder for the time being). Once the photo is identified by our in-house ornithologists and the new bird's profile is created, it will be added to your Collections, and the database will be expanded accordingly.
Option 4: You can also tag a photo as a Mystery visitor: this option lets you keep pictures here that aren't birds (or squirrels): maybe a cute dog, a deer, a mouse, or even a bird you wanna check in a book before re-classifying it later.
Option 5: You can also choose to ignore a particular image at this stage of the process already (this action discards the photo without having to identify it first, and you will move on to the next picture from the session).
Once you go through all the pictures in this bird-recognition flow, you will again encounter the photo-selection flow described above.
In the end, tap the “Save photos” button, and you will be taken to your Collections (for now, you cannot publish pictures unrecognized by AI to the community gallery.)
What happens if a squirrel or other animals visit Bird Buddy?
For now, our AI model can recognize squirrels, so you will see a squirrel recognition screen when the camera takes a photo of it.
After that, you have two options:
Option 1: Collect the photos/video (this lists the media in the Squirrel gallery in your Collections)
Option 2: Ignore this visitor (discards the footage)
If the camera sends you a photo of other critters (dogs, deer, raccoons, mice), you can either discard them or keep them as Mystery visitors.