Picture of Bird Feeder Monitor

This is a project to monitor the number of birds that visit my bird feeder, as well as record the amount of time spent feeding. I used an Arduino Yún and a capacitive touch sensor, Adafruit CAP1188, to detect and record the birds feeding. On a routine basis, the accumulated data is sent to a Google Docs spreadsheet to record the number and time spent by the birds visiting the feeder.

Data is only transmitted during a set period of time prior to sunrise and after sunset.

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Step 1: Step 1: Parts

Picture of Step 1: Parts

These are a list of the parts that I used to assemble my project. You could use a variety of project boxes to create your project, but these are the items I had on hand at the time.

1 6x3x2" Project Enclosure
1 3x2x1" Project Enclosure
1 roll 1/4" Copper Foil Tape
1 CAP1188 8-Key Capacitive Touch Sensor
1 Arduino Yun
1 micro-SD card
2 DB-9 male connectors
2 DB-9 female connectors
1 Bird Feeder (CedarWorks Plastic Hopper Bird Feeder)
1 Tail Light connector from automotive supply store

Step 2: Step 2: Wiring

Picture of Step 2: Wiring

The Arduino Yun and the CAP1188 are wired to provide a hard reset of sensor at startup. There are other capacitive touch sensors available with either one, five or eight sensors. I chose eight because my bird feeder has six sides.


CAP1188 SDA == Yún Digital 2
CAP1188 SCK == Yún Digital 3
CAP1188 RST == Yún Digital 9
CAP1188 VIN == Yún 3.3V or 5V
CAP1188 GND == Yún GND
CAP1188 C1-C8 == Connect to wires on each perch

Power for the Arduino was provided externally, by running a wire underground from my garage, and up through the pipe used as the bird feeder stand. The wire was connected to a 5-VDC power supply in the garage. This project should work with batteries, but I didn't want the hassle of changing batteries on a routine basis.

I constructed a 16" long cable with DB-9 connectors on both ends to connect the Project Box with the Arduino Yun and the box containing the CAP1188. The capacitive sensor needs to be located as close to the perches as possible.

diy_bloke1 year ago

excellent and interesting. Not that I will immediately wire up a bird feeder, but I can use the principles elsewhere. A chicken coop.

It may sound deranged but I am thinking of adding optical recognition of the birds (the chicken and unwanted visitors) to scare off the unwanted visitors.

Not because it is usefull, but because I can, besides, it may prove useful on a larger scale, so I am just testing the principle. I get bugged by pigeons a lot who are after my chicken food. Should be possible to differentiate between a chicken and a pigeon i guess

kerens11 year ago

i use the python gspread to send data directly to gdocs. its very easy.

sbkirby (author)  kerens11 year ago

gspread looks like an excellent alternative to my method. Thanks for sharing.

Very cool project! Thanks for sharing!

Great project, You should show it off on the adafruit show and tell on wednesday if you have yet to do so