Magpies, just like their relatives crows and jays, have a reputation of getting attracted to and stealing shiny objects. A brilliant robotics expert took advantage of this and created a bottle cap bird feeder to put this bird behavior to good use. In exchange for a kibble, birds have to collect a bottle cap and drop it into the designated hole. So, it’s essentially a vending machine for birds that accepts bottle caps as payments for the snacks.
Hans Forsberg works with industrial applications of artificial intelligence. The idea of a bottle cap bird feeder occurred to him when he noticed a pair of magpies that just decided to reside in his backyard. He often catches them trying to pick a lock on his outdoor lanterns in order to steal the glowing candles inside. Forsberg thought that if the magpies are smart enough to pick a lock, they could definitely pick something else. And that’s how the idea of training them to collect bottle caps in exchange for foods popped into his head.
Man Invents A Bottle Cap Bird Feeder That Trains Magpies To Collect Metal Objects In Exchange For Food
The bottle cap bird feeder project relied on mechanical design, electronics, software, and 3D printing technology. In other words, the ambitious project was no easy feat. Furthermore, there wasn’t any other similar devices that he can look up on the internet. So, he had to come up with his original plan and design for his one-of-a-kind invention. It took him several years to complete the project. But all the effort and time he spent on the device was all worth it.
Forsberg used a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B as the main unit for the device. It controls the mechatronics of the food dispenser as well as the input/output from the sensor and actuator. A unit called Arduino Uno is used as a sensor and actuator interface within the device. The bottle caps are detected with a metal-detector based on Arduino code. Forsberg created a simple GUI for the Raspberry that allows the unit to control a vibration feeder based on a rotating feeder screw. The GUI also allows him to attach a wide angle camera to monitor the experiments.
Watch The Bird Feeder In Action On The Video Below
The recorded footage from the attached camera proved that the bottle cap bird feeder project was a success. Once the magpie drops a bottle cap into the designated hole, the machine instantly dispenses a bird treat into the receptacle where the bird can easily claim it. And it’s like hitting two birds with one stone. Forsberg was able to cleverly train the birds to recycle tiny metal objects while distracting them away from his outdoor lanterns.
Forsberg gives an in-depth explanation about this project on Hackster where he also included all hardware components that you can buy directly on the site. He also included details on the physical parts including the food dispenser, vibro feeder parts, and vibrating motor flywheel that you can 3D print.
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