Maggie and Ollie's Painted Bird Feeder #3

feeder image feeder image from house

Not really sure why we did this, but a demo at Woodcraft was to use a Kreg tool to build a bird feeder, very easy and fast. I prepped all the wood (3/4" pine from 1x6's) ahead of the demo, and used the time to drill holes and put the parts together while talking about the tool and techniques.

After we got home we took 2 pieces of clear plastic to cover the front and back, and leave the bottom up about 1/2" to allow filling with bird seed, and letting the birds just pick it out. However the fresh pine could not stand the weather if it got wet, so I asked my grand kids what we needed to do. At the time, they were going to put glue on the wood parts, and driving in the screws to assemble the feeder. Well, the answer was we should paint it, and we choose some of the paints we used on other projects, and they got right to work! The result was outstanding, and we attached some hanging string, loaded it with bird seed, and prepared to wait a couple days for the birds to find and start using it.

Turns out, we got back inside after setting it up, and within 10 minutes... the birds began to feed.

Maggie and Ollie shout Hooray!
Maggie and Ollie shout Hooray!
My painters show off their work.
My painters showing off their work.
First feeder, up for use by the birds.
Feeder #1 was up for use by the birds!
Second feeder, up for use by the birds.
Feeder #2 is up for use by the birds!
Third feeder, up for use by the birds.
Feeder #2 is up for use by the birds!


Captured over time, we have pictures of lots of different birds at the feeder. I will try to filter through and find some of their best pictures, and show them here!

Morning Doves (image201806220921_pi00.jpg).
These are morning doves. You probably have heard them "coo-ing" at your house!
Squirrel.
Here's a squirrel(?!), wait, a what?
Up for use by the birds.
Red-Bellied woodpecker and a house sparrow.
Up for use by the birds.
Another red bird -- incoming -- a House Finch!
Up for use by the birds.
A Titmouse - these guys love the sunflower seed.
Up for use by the birds.
House Finch
Up for use by the birds.
Another titmouse pic...
Up for use by the birds.
Mrs. Cardinal and Morning Dove.
Up for use by the birds.
A Chickadee

And of course I did pull the Pi Zero W.

Ok, the bird feeder is up, and the bird population has gone up. We have had a couple of things to figure out. The first is to set up one of my RaspberryPi units with a camera on it to take pictures of the feeder activity. At first this was going to be solar power, but after about a week of testing, it was apparent that the solar panel and batteries weren't enough to keep a camera running over night. I could just plug them in to restart, and let the machine shut off after 8... but I'm lazy, so a power cord is run out to the camera. I have spent some time expanding the web site to accommodate additional pictures. We're snapping a shot every 2 minutes from 7am to 8pm. I move those all to a google drive location, and then scan through looking for some good stuff.

Part of the issue I ran into was that the pictures were not in focus, and I was just wrapping myself up in the fact that this was life when I found out that you could actually adjust the focus - if you did so carefully! So after I replaced the camera I had trashed :( the pictures were a lot better. AND in the process I took the little Pi Zero W that was originally going to be outside back inside to get a long distance shot of the feeder, and put up an older Pi 2 outside in a zip lock bag for the Pi/Camera and another ziplock that joined the power supply to the extension cord.

Round 2: underway!
Up for use by the birds.
Now we've gone through a heavy period of rain, and it was pretty evident that the rain did NOT drain from the feeder, and that the lid did NOT cover the entire base. What was new was that the bird seed with rain would grow fast! And I suggested to the kids that we would need to build a new feeder. This time the two big differences are that the roof OVERLAPS the base, not just the feeder -- AND that the base would be a piece of metal screen, not a solid bottom. The end result was a new feeder with that 3/4" pine, and once again I needed their help in assembly and painting. They are great helping out this way. (And this time I put some of my old t-shirts on them to help keep the paint off their clothing/skin/surroundings/... ). The end result is that the birds are REALLY visiting everyday.
Up for use by the birds. Up for use by the birds. Up for use by the birds. Up for use by the birds. Up for use by the birds. Up for use by the birds. Up for use by the birds. Up for use by the birds.

To keep on top of things, I've put in some support scripts to capture the original photos (python3), process images for inclusion on the website (bash), and a process to (manual) to copy the photos to the google backup site. Running through the backup pile allows me to select and post specific bird shots, but my next challenge is to find a way to quickly scan and cleanup the pictures. We're catching 350 shots per day, on 2 different machines. And with he close unit, there are birds in about 50% of the shots. I need to find a way to clear these out faster.... greater than 3k photos still to scan through. *whew*

Pi Camera
This is what pouring rain makes things look like...
Pi Camera
The Raspberry Pi is packed into a plastic case, with the camera cable plugged in.
Pi Camera
This shows the camera on the cable, the Raspberry Pi is in a plastic box, and the cable lets the camera be externally positioned and aimed.
Pi Camera
The Raspberry Pi box has the camera external to the box. There is a small hole for the camera lens, poked in the containing ziplock bag that holds all of them.
Pi Camera
Here's the power adapter, plugged into the extension cord; and packed into a large ziplock bag.