Tuesday, March 22, 2011

iBird for iPod - Overview

 In January I downloaded iBird Explorer Pro from iTunes and thought that I would share my experience with this electronic bird guide. Like anything it takes a little getting used to it but I am coming to really enjoy it. The iBird Pro version has detailed information about 920 birds, mostly North America but also contains many of the rare European and Asian birds that have made their way to our shores. So far, I have yet to search for a bird that is not in the database.
As a new birder and photographer I am laden with my binoculars and camera equipment. There is no room left for me to carry a field guide so my practice has been to take pictures and return home to begin the study. With my portable, compact iPod, I am now able to check out a bird while "on the fly."  Apparently, this product has been on the market since 2005 and has been evolving ever since.

There are several features of the program that are very useful. It has multiple means of searching for a bird whether you know the bird or not. It is possible to search by wing shape, flight pattern, tail shape, range, common or uncommon.

Once a bird is identified there is quite a lot of information available about the bird. (Not as good as some of the best field guides, but good nonetheless.) There are illustrations, pictures, range, facts, identity info, bird song, similar birds and the ability (if in a Wi Fi zone) to connect directly to Flickr or Birdpedia for more information.

 The text is written in a user-friendly manner and is very helpful. Another feature that I really like is the ability to enter a note for each bird. In my case I use this feature to input the date and location of a sighting. Over time, this will become a very useful historical record of my bird sightings.

I really haven't begun to explore all of the Apps that are available to enhance the birdwatching experience but I know there are some out there. On the basic iPod there is a Notebook feature that is standard. This tool also complements the daily record keeping
of birding. In this space I can record the area birded, distance travelled, time birded and the sightings for the day. This assists me to keep more accurate records when I return to my computer.

iBird may not be for every one but I am growing quite fond of mine. This program is also available for iPhones and iPads.
Birds pictured here today are the Glaucous Gull, the Ring-billed Gull, the Domestic Duck and the Common Redpoll. 

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