My friend Ed shared something me that’s pretty nifty if you’re a geeky birder, like me: an iPhone application that gives you instant access to reports of birds near you.
As Mary Esch wrote in an “App in the hand” for the AP, the BirdsEye bird-finding app “gives users instant access to recent reports of birds spotted near their location, tells them where to look for specific birds, and keeps track of their lists of all the birds they’ve ever seen.”
As Mary also observes, the BirdEye app makes its debut just ahead of the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count.
If fellow birders are going to take it out and about with them, I hope they bring along an Otterbox or the like. The count tends to be a squishy slog that’s more conducive to hardy clipboards than sensitive consumer electronics.
That said, BirdsEye looks nifty.
Good thing, too, since at $19.99, the app isn’t cheap. I suspect, however, that many avid avian chasers might just be happy to fork over for it.
It uses the iPhone’s GPS to calculate your location and then displays a list of either all of the birds ever displayed in the area, sortable by recent activity. You can also filter for birds that aren’t on your lifetime sighting list, if you’ve spent the time on inputting that information from the back of your dog-eared and battered Petersen’s Guide. (For iPod Touch owners walking fields with no nearby wifi access — imagine that — there’s an option to manually enter locations too.)
Birdseye includes some nifty interactive features, including tie-ins to maps, recorded bird calls, photos and spoken explanations by Kaufman about whether a given bird is likely to be spotted in trees, waterways or in the fields.
The application was developed by Birds in the Hand, LLC, of Virginia, and brings together content from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Academy of Natural Sciences, and field guide author Kenn Kaufman.
BirdsEye is now available on the App Store. (Direct link)
That collaboration of ornithologists means users have access to some of the best birding resources on the planet. According to Brian Sullivan at the Cornell lab, as quoted in the AP story, about 40,000 birders enter up to 2 million sightings every month into eBird.
And if people decide to spring for it this holiday season, you might well see some of my fellow geeky birders using a bird in hand to identify two in a bush.
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