Netvue Birdfy Feeder

Netvue Birdfy Feeder AI hands-on review

Image credit: Netvue

Because you can’t keep an eye on your bird feeding station 24/7, this smart platform spots visitors, grabs pictures that you can share, and can even use AI to identify who’s been stopping by.

This high-tech bird feeder, in pastel plastic, features a wireless video camera with a rechargeable battery. It can send video clips to a phone app and there’s also a MicroSD card slot to capture footage. We tested it with the optional solar panel (around £20) and a Pro Perch Extension (around £33).

After fully charging it overnight via USB-C, we set it up with the app and looked for a position outdoors. It comes with multiple mounting options. You can screw a bracket to a wall, mount it on a pole (it even comes with a cone to fend off climbing squirrels) or use a large Velcro strap to tie the bracket to a tree.

The tricky part is that you need to be within (2.4GHz) Wi-Fi range. So forget positioning Birdfy at the bottom of your garden unless your garden is the size of a postage stamp. Or invest in a good Wi-Fi repeater or mesh system to boost the signal.

The app stores video clips for a week for free. For longer, you can subscribe to Event Video Recording cloud storage (60 days) or use a MicroSD card.

Netvue Birdfy Feeder

Image credit: Netvue

Of course, birds come for the food and it has a 1.5 litre capacity for seeds. We used sunflower hearts, recommended by a friend, but you can use any kind. The feeder’s lid flips all the way forward so you can pour in bird feed.

Plenty of feed spills out onto a tray to attract birds. Birdfy comes with a small perch but you can unscrew it and swap for the larger Pro Perch Extension, which comes with attachments: a cage for a suet ball, a water dish, a spike for fruit, a reservoir for sugar water, even a welcome sign to personalise your bird snaps.

You can also buy a Hummee extension, specifically to attract hummingbirds… but there are none in the UK, so we gave it a miss. Hummingbird footage from other countries, though, really shows off what the Birdfy is great at. Birds feed for a few seconds. Blink and you’ll miss it. But video clips capture the moment, letting you and friends see ‘your’ birds in all their glory.

We set up Birdfy near the back of the house with the optional solar panel plugged into its USB port, filled it with seed, set up the app for push notifications from the movement sensor, and waited…

It took 24 hours to get noticed. It was exciting to get the first push alert: a video clip of a blue tit quickly grabbing a sunflower heart and flitting away. It visited several times over three days. At least, we think it was the same bird and it didn’t tell its friends about the new all-you-can-eat buffet.

In the app settings, you decide what the AI looks for and what merits a notification. For example, only birds. The app stores short video clips (you select the length) triggered by all motion, but set up right you only get push notifications when birds are sensed. And in the long list of videos in the app, there’s an AI symbol next to those ones, no need to bother reviewing the others.

Identification of bird species is patchy though. The AI is supposed to recognise 6,000+ species but it lacks basic context. Our blue tit was sometimes misidentified as a blue jay. The facial markings are similar but you don’t get blue jays in the UK, only in North America. So a fundamental part of setting up the Netvue app should be telling the AI where you are. That would help the AI greatly.

Netvue Birdfy Feeder

Image credit: Netvue

Another time, the AI thought it had spotted a hawfinch… but it turned out to be a rosy-brown leaf flapping in the wind! Shame but at least the hawfinch is a British bird that could have been there. Leaves were also misidentified as an American goldfinch. You can click on ‘AI feedback’ in the app, to tell it the correct identification and where you are. Over time, this should improve the AI.

The 1080p camera includes night vision. Video footage includes sound from the built-in microphone. There’s also a speaker and a light that you can control via app. You can talk to birds, shout at squirrels.

After three days of regular visits, the blue  tit came no more (a bit worrying, that) and there were many days of no birds at all. Though a squirrel became a regular visitor – they look cute close-up on camera. And it rained a lot, so the sunflower hearts at the bottom of the feeder got wet. The lid is large but not large enough to shield food from the funny angles of attack of British rain. The USB port where the solar panel plugs in doesn’t look weatherproof either.

And then the Birdfy died after 17 days. The app said the battery was flat, which is weird because it should last around a month, and with the solar panel it should never need charging. Then it wouldn’t reconnect when charged. Netvue support declared it a firmware problem and sent a replacement – assuring us that it would do the same for any customer. The replacement set up quickly and worked well with the new Netvue Next app.

For around £50 less you can buy the Birdfy Feeder Lite, which lacks AI automatic bird recognition. Figuring out which species is part of the fun, but you have to review every clip to spot new visitors. You can subscribe to the AI service for $4.99 a month but buying the slightly pricier model with a lifetime free AI subscription is much better value.

If you want to get a sense of the results before you buy, visit the Netvue Birdfy Community on Facebook and see the birds others have caught on camera. There are videos of everything from racoons to bears troughing on seeds too. This sense of community, and the ease with which you can share video clips and photos with others on social media, is exactly why you’d buy the Netvue Birdfy over other smart birdfeeders. It also makes a great gift for garden birdwatchers. Just be sure to mount it within Wi-Fi range.

From £204


PalProt Bird Detective

A curvy bird feeder with built-in 1080p Wi-Fi camera and AI species detection with no fees. But the design is simpler than the Netvue, with no optional solar panel or perch upgrades. Battery life is around a month.

From £208

Green Fingers Bird Feeder Camera Bundle with Wi-Fi

A traditional hanging bird feeder on a wooden mount, but the mount has a 1080p camera slotted into it. The camera connects via Wi-Fi but must be plugged in to power. There’s motion detection, MicroSD and an app but no AI.


RSPB Gothic Arch Window Feeder

Affordable and low-tech. You’ll get a great view of birds feeding from the window but blink and you’ll miss them. You need to refill it more often too. Purchases support the UK’s largest nature conservation charity.


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