Designing for birds

For our next device we are working on a bird feeder that has RFID technology that can track birds bearing RFID tags. Part of our team has been dedicated to adapt existing birdfeeders to fit the hardware, which consists of a microcontroller, an RFID reader and a PCB inductance coil.

One of our main challenges has been to design a perch that will position the birds inside the reading distance of the coil. The birds need to land within a diameter of 42 mm above the coil, a few millimetres off and the reader will not detect them. The tricky task is to design a feeder that is inviting enough to attract the birds and at the same restricts the area where they land. 

For this purpose, we have been doing some traditional user trials by testing several 3d printed bird feeder adaptors, and the only way to get feedback from our feathered users is by capturing their visits with a Naturewatch camera. The pictures above show the different designs we have developed in use. So far we have managed to get blue tits and robins using the feeders, but we are still working on ways to get them to land in the right spot. 

As expected, squirrels have made an appearance in the hope of getting some food!

We will post more developments soon. Any suggestions or tips for designing for birds will be very welcome, please email us at