What Are Moonbirds? These Ethereum Owl NFTs Are Soaring


In brief

  • Moonbirds is an Ethereum NFT collection spanning 10,000 profile pictures.
  • Holders gain access to the PROOF community, and can “nest” their NFT owls for future benefits.

In an increasingly crowded NFT market full of copycat collections, it can be difficult for a project to stand out—especially a profile picture (PFP) project. But Moonbirds skyrocketed right out of the gate, thanks in part to compelling artwork, well-known backers, and an inventive rewards model.

The Ethereum-based project can be compared to the Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks in some ways, but the first PFP launch from tech entrepreneur Kevin Rose’s PROOF Collective is also exploring some fresh terrain. Here’s a look at what Moonbirds is, how its unique “nesting” mechanic works, and why it has had such a hot launch.

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What are Moonbirds?

Moonbirds is a collection of 10,000 Ethereum NFTs, each featuring a pixelated owl character with randomized traits and features. While there are common elements found across multiple images, no two NFTs are exactly alike.

In this sense, it’s much like the Bored Apes and many, many other profile picture projects on the market right now. Also like the Bored Apes, Moonbirds holders have intellectual property rights and can use their owned image to create products, services, merchandise, and more. They also have access to a private community called the PROOF Collective.

What is the PROOF Collective?

The PROOF Collective is an NFT-based membership club created by Kevin Rose, who is a tech founder (Digg, Revision3) and now a partner at VC firm True Ventures. Rose is a noted NFT collector, and he turned his PROOF podcast into a private community that requires an NFT pass to access. It rewards holders with free NFT drops, access to events and content, and other perks.

PROOF released the 1,000 access pass NFTs in December 2021 via a Dutch Auction format, starting at just 5 ETH. Quickly, they have accelerated in value—the cheapest available NFT listed on a marketplace as of this writing is 120 ETH, or about $338,000. PROOF plans to host an NFT conference in 2023, as well as release additional NFTs and more ahead.

Comedian and TV host Jimmy Fallon owns a pair of Moonbirds, alongside his Bored Ape. It’s unclear whether Fallon bought the Moonbirds, however, or received them as a gift.

What’s so special about Moonbirds?

Beyond the artwork, what’s driving the hype around Moonbirds? In large part, it’s the profile and reputation of Rose, who is a prominent collector of high-value NFTs and helped shape early excitement around the medium with his podcasts. Also, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian has come aboard as an investor, adding another prominent name.

Some of that may have fueled the FOMO that has pushed up prices and generated sales. The perks and future plans for PROOF may also be a key consideration, as membership has already brought considerable benefits to NFT holders. Moonbirds owners without the PROOF Collective NFT don’t get the same level of access and perks, but it may still appear to be a very valuable ecosystem to be invested in.

What is nesting?

There’s also nesting, which is a new feature launching with Moonbirds. Nesting is essentially a riff on staking, a common function for crypto tokens that lets you earn rewards (or yield) by locking them into a platform. In this case, however, you keep the Moonbirds NFT in your wallet, and the rewards aren’t crypto tokens.

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Instead, nesting your Moonbird—and not listing or selling it—will level up your nest, and higher-level nests (a.k.a. those of long-time holders) will receive improved benefits within the PROOF community, including “enhanced drops and rewards.” The initiative just launched in April 2022, so we don’t have a clear sense of the future benefits. But it may well keep some owners from parting with their Moonbirds anytime soon.

How to buy Moonbirds NFTs

Moonbirds were originally minted on April 16 and now are available through secondary NFT marketplaces like OpenSea and LooksRare. While they originally sold for 2.5 ETH (about $7,600) at launch, demand has pushed the secondary price well north—to a starting price of nearly 32 ETH ($90,000) as of this writing.

As of this writing, the top Moonbirds sale is for NFT #2642, which sold for 350 ETH ($1.03 million) to the creators of The Sandbox, an Ethereum metaverse game.

The future

Moonbirds had one of the largest launches we’ve ever seen in the NFT industry, and between the initial mint and hot secondary sales, the project generated $280 million worth of trading volume in the span of just two days. After a couple weeks, that total is now north of $477 million.

Following the smash launch, there were two major moves made by people associated with the project. The aforementioned Alexis Ohanian joined as an investor, with his Seven Seven Six firm pumping $10 million into PROOF as it scales its media and community plans.

At the same time, Proof COO Ryan Carson departed after announcing an NFT investment fund called 121G and buying up Moonbirds on the secondary market. Some collectors were upset about Carson’s actions, suggesting that he was benefitting from inside information about PROOF’s future plans.

At least for now, that seems to be a relatively small bump in the road for PROOF, as Moonbirds have seen rising value and considerable trading volume since launch. And the vast majority of holders appear to be keen on nesting and the potential benefits therein, with about 85% of the NFTs nested soon after the feature launched.

PROOF’s Moonbirds have taken flight in a truly impressive way, but we’ll see in the weeks and months ahead whether they continue to soar amongst the NFT blue chip collections.

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