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BirdsEye BirdLog App Review

I’ve long been a fan of the BirdsEye app, it allows you find out what’s been reported to eBird and gives you an idea of birding hot spots all over North America. It’s my favorite birding app of all the apps available–even over any of the field guides. It works on either an iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android.  You need some sort of Internet access, either via wireless or the 3G network.

There’s been a rumor that the app would eventually allow you to update your sitings from the field directly to eBird and we waited and waited for an update. Those of us with iPhones even felt a wee bit of bitterness when it was announced that the app was available to do just that via the Android and not the iPhone.

Now it is available and boy howdy have I been giving it a workout.  One thing to understand, this is a separate app called BirdLog that allows you to enter sitings to eBird from the field, it is a separate app from the original BirdsEye app that allows you to see what is being reported.

Pros of the BirdLog app:

You can enter in eBird sitings directly from the field, as it is happening if you wish.

Here the app plotted my location on my bike route, I'm the blue dot and the red dots are "birding hot spots" on eBird. The yellow dot is a personal location that I created in eBird.

Let’s say you are bike riding on a series of trails and there’s a pond that particularly birdy but there’s no known birding hot spot there.  You can go into “Submit Sitings” and will tell you where you are and even let you know if you are near a birding hotspot. This is also handy if you in someplace like Nebraska and you’re driving around and getting birds at various potholes.

You can REALLY zoom in on your location to see how well the app finds you.

I personally don’t like hunting down locations in eBird because you have to do it by county, rather than city or township and I think it’s a pain the butt to figure out.  This app does it for you.

It gives you a list of the most likely species.

It will keep track of how long you are birding in an area for you, so you can start it as soon as you hit the trail (alas, it doesn’t keep track of how far you traveled, but there are other apps for that).

The app allows you to make notes, “Red-tailed territory display” or “nest nearby.”

You can have more than one list going.  I have two lakes that I do as a loop when I’m bike riding and I was able to have both lists going.

Cons of the BirdLog app:

It’s separate from the original BirdsEye app.

Doesn’t keep track of how far you travel on the trail.

Once you have closed out and submitted your list, it’s difficult to go back in and correct it (you might as well do it at home on your computer).  You can’t edit the list from the app, it will take you into eBird via your phone’s web browser and eBird is not set up to be viewed in a friendly way on a phone (at least not on my iPhone 4s).

When submitting sitings, it defaults to numbers, rather than letters, gently forcing you to count how many birds you are seeing.  I tend for most species to enter in “x” because I don’t want to count how many grackles, red-winged blackbirds or gulls I see on the trail.  I think this is more my own personal issue.  I so often have to count birds for work and when I’m watching birds for fun, my brain doesn’t want to do it.  You can still enter in “x” you just have to switch screens.

 

Best Uses:

Driving around on remote roads and you have no idea where you are.  This is ideal for areas like Sax Zim Bog where you are mostly driving down the road and periodically stopping to find birds.

Keeping a running list of what you’re seeing in the field.

I’m particularly looking forward to using this in birding programs with kids. I can let one of them keep the bird list and carry an iPad (a good hook for the kid who doesn’t want to be in the woods in the first place).

I think this is a really cool app to use with kids at home.  Why wait for the Great Backyard Bird Count or Project Feeder watch to notice birds?  You could set up a day once a week and have your kids check off the birds in your backyard, you could even use it to keep track of what day you note when certain species arrive–like orioles or hummingbirds.

I worry some people think entering sitings to eBird is only for those who are hardcore birders and are out in the field, but backyard species are important too, especially as the globe’s climate is changing and we will see more shifts in bird populations.

Here’s an intro video that shows you how it works:

7 comments to BirdsEye BirdLog App Review

  • It’s a wonderful new tool — something that just begged to be developed. Thanks for pointing that it keeps track of the time you spend — I’ll know to start a list as soon as we get to a birding location, now. I haven’t tried the quick entry, either. How to delete a list when I started a duplicate by mistake was not intuitive to me (maybe it is to more experienced iPhone users than I am), but I googled it and you just swipe the list from left to right on the My Sightings page to get a Delete option.

  • Thanks for the review! We will be working to make BirdLog even better. And BirdLog World … yes, the whole world… just made it into the app store last night.

  • This makes me want to quit being contrary and actually get a smartphone. I’ve got a birding road trip around North Dakota planned for early June and I’m sure it’ll generate a few dozen random eBird lists from obscure places that I ditch the car. I’m planning on carrying a handheld GPS to waypoint all the spots so I don’t have to wrestle with the satellite map at eBird trying to find the pothole 50 meters from the road that looks like the one I was at. This would make the whole endeavor easier…I just shudder at the trendiness that is an iPhone.

  • Dianne C.

    I love it!
    Just for clarification to your ‘above’ – for non-4G iPad users, you don’t need an internet connection when you are in the field. As long as you know where you are, you can save your submission and upload it later. Once you are in range of a free wi-fi, you can “Reciew and Submit”. The app will say you started the checklist when you weren’t connected, then prompt you to clarify the location in the usual manner.
    I love it!

    Dianne C.

  • Chris Fagyal

    I actually view the forcing of entering numbers for sightings as a great pro, as entering X for everything is a complete waste and is barely useful data. X just indicates presence and nothing more. Even rough estimates are far better. If one doesn’t want to count every grackle then estimate… 10, 20….etc… but it’s far and away better to list 2 hooded warblers at Murphy hanrehan rather than X.

    Now that the world version is in the app store I can download it and fiddle with it become heading off to Peru in two weeks :)

    Chris

  • How far we’ve come, digitally! Not so long ago an APP used a huge mainframe computer to schedule school busses!

  • Biscuit

    I think the only thing I don’t like is the price! I absolutely love BirdsEye. I definitely get my money’s worth, especially when traveling. But I REALLY can’t get over how much this app is. Especially when I think it should be included (most of my other birding apps already have a built in bird list tracker). Cornell is getting a bit greedy with this one.$9.99/$19.99 is a steep fee for an iPhone app.

    BirdChick – Did you pay for it or did you get a “free evaluation”?