It’s been in the App Store for several months at this point but it is definitely high time that I review the excellent bird listing app, Birdcountr (iTunes link; $4.99). This is a category of birding app that has been largely unfulfilled up to this point. As a disclaimer, I was a beta tester for this app as it was being developed but I have no financial or other involvements in the app. That being said, I hope I can convince you that this is the only way you should be recording your bird sightings if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch.
At first glance, this app is a simple listing app, and that simplicity is part of the beauty of the app. Pressing the Start A List button leads you to the GPS page (if you have an iPhone). You do not need an iPhone and its GPS capabilities to use Birdcountr but some of the neater features of the app rely on it. You are able to name the location for each bird list and save the locations as favorites if you frequently bird at that location.
Entering your bird sightings is straightforward, particularly if you are familiar with the 4-letter codes that both the Bird Banding Lab and the ABA have assigned to each bird. But don’t worry if you don’t know them, you can also browse by family and search by full name as well. The quick entry just allows for “Unsexed Unaged” additions to the list but if you go to each species page you are able to enter age, sex, and plumage data. Twitter is also incorporated into the species page, allowing you to quickly send out an alert for rarer species.
As you build your list, you can select the this list screen and quickly add additional birds of the species you have already seen. This allows for even quicker entry as you are birding which is a good thing because if the app would distract from birding, I would not use it. Ok, so I am a tech geek, I would probably still use it, but I would at least think about not using it!
Once you have competed some lists, you are able to see the real power and utility of the birdcountr app. Going through the Archives page, you can look at all your previous lists. You can also view the Archives by species. You can then quickly check out all the locations you have recorded a Blackburnian Warbler, for instance. Age and sex data are also prominently displayed.
Going to the Map View, you can see the exact locations where you added birds to the map. You can see all the entries from that list, or you can select one species and see all the locations you recorded it. This is a great feature for long hikes because it is often hard to remember where you saw all the birds. You may also be able to pick out trends for the habitats that certain birds are more likely to be seen in, like the Black-throated Green Warbler hanging out in the hemlocks (above right).
Other options from the Archives include reopening a list or emailing yourself (or anyone else) a list. This option could be great for a quick post to a birding email listserv. A new feature in this version is the ability to email yourself a file that is formatted either for upload to eBird or to Google Earth. Uploading to eBird will be a great time saver and will hopefully just more people to take that extra step and being able to see your bird walks in Google Earth is just brilliant.
There are different settings that you can change, including which birds photos show up for each bird family, making custom bird lists and selecting which list to use. It is all very intuitive.
This is a quick and easy app to use in the field without being distracting from the actual birding. If you have an iPhone, there is also the added bonus of all the mapping features which really add value to the app. I find it much more enjoyable than carrying a notebook and pen, in part because that requires two hands. I think this app takes less of my concentration and therefore I am able to focus more on the birds.
The developer has been very quick to come out with new releases to squash any bugs and he is obviously intent on continually updating the app with new features. He is a birder himself and that really shows as you use the app. I think it is definitely worth the $4.99 that the developer is charging for it and I hope that you give it a try!
If you have used this app, let me know what you think.
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