There are now so many ways to follow and identify birds electronically to enhance our birding experiences as well as share them. Many people report bird sightings or look up birds on eBird or use Cornell University’s Merlin phone App. People also enjoy Birdcast to learn about migrating birds in real time. These and other electronic tools have greatly expanded the adventure of birdwatching.

New applications and devices continue to appear, promising to make birding even more interesting and fun. These include:

Bird Buddy: a camera feeder that takes video and uses AI to identify birds.
Blink: a surveillance camera that can be placed at feeders or baths to take pictures of birds. Learn more on this video.
Terra: a listening device that detects and identifies bird sounds and connects to smart phones by WiFi.
Haikubox  (see below)

The latter two are placed in your yard and identify which birds are present by sound via a connected computer or smart phone. While both were introduced fairly recently, the Haikubox has been available longer. I’ve been using it since August. (Note: Bird Buddy and Haikubox were reviewed in the Summer 2023 issue of Audubon magazine and February 2023 issue of Birdwatching magazine). To keep in mind: some stores of the Wild Birds Unlimited chain recently began offering Haikubox at a discounted rate. Click here to learn more.

More about Haikubox

Briefly, Haikubox is a small electronic box that can be placed outside, within range of your home WiFi, and plugged into an available outdoor outlet. It’s very easy to set up and connect to a smart phone via a downloaded App. The Haikubox will record bird sounds, notify the phone, and identify the bird using an adapted version of Birdnet. Birdnet is a citizen science platform similar to Merlin, also developed by Cornell University, that uses AI to identify birds by sound and can currently identify over 3,000 species. Haikubox will provide the bird species, along with when and the number of times each species appears each day. These data are also available on the Haikubox web site when you log on for your device. On your phone, for each entry you can

  • Relay the recording,
  • Observe its sonic frequency spectrum (Birdcast uses this spectrum to make the identification),
  • Connect to All About Birds for more information and images,
  • See graphs that summarize the number and times of sightings for that species during the last 24 hours or for the past three months, and
  • Connect to a map showing where that species is being observed across the U.S.
  • You can also share your data with Cornell University and/or other Haikubox users.
  • Finally, there is a direct link in the App that connects to Birdcast so that you can observe nightly migrations in real time.

When all these capabilities are summarized, it sounds a bit overwhelming, but the Haikubox App is easy to use, a lot of fun, and mildly addictive as the Audubon article noted. We’ve found there are many more species in our yard than we typically observed, including some we didn’t expect and are now noticing—since thanks to the technology, we know they are there. I look forward to setting up Bird Buddy and a Blink camera as well!

John Shiver, Doylestown Township’s Bird Town Committee Member