This is an app review that is long overdue and I really wanted to get it out since there are birders out there that are probably looking forward to new iPhones or iPads for Christmas. I found out about this app when I published an overview of some of my favorite apps and the developers of Birdwatcher’s Diary (BWD) emailed me and said, “You gotta look at our app too!” And they were absolutely right, BWD really streamlines my listing when I am out birding.
I was initially thrown off by the learning curve of the app but the developers seemed so confident in their creation that I pushed on. It was well worth it. The initial setup of the app take a bit of time but it greatly speeds up the actual listing process in the field.
The first step in setting up BWD is making some lists. Think of these lists as the printed out checklists you can pick up at wildlife refuges or Audubon Centers. The lists give you a limited number of birds that are likely to be found in that area. I have made lists for Pennsylvania (~350 species), PA winter landbirds (95), and one for the recently completed State College CBC (101 species). These smaller lists make it faster to find and record numbers for the birds you are seeing. You can always add a species not included on the list if you find something unusual when you are out.
The next step is to set up some Locations. This is as easy to do as clicking the location button on the bottom of the screen and clicking the add button. From there its a breeze to grab your current location or select different coordinates on a map. Fill out the rest of the location info and you are ready to go. Once you have several locations saved, you can quickly change the location while you are birding to indicate you are birding in a new area. BWD keeps track of all this location info for submitting your checklist to eBird at the end of the day.
Keeping your bird lists in the field is very simple. Just touch on the species name to add one sighting, or touch the calculator icon to add flocks of any number. You can quickly touch the binocular icon to change it to a heard only bird, or wait a second and tap the binocular to enter additional info on your sighting including notes on age and sex.
Submitting checklists to eBird is a breeze. In the background, BWD is keeping track of the birds you see at each location, how far you traveled and the amount of time you spent at each spot. When you head back to your computer at the end of the day, the entire days sightings can be emailed to you in one file that you can upload into eBird. When you bird at multiple locations in a day long excursion, this can save you hours!
So far the only issues I have had with BWD is for casual observations that are not at your preset locations, they recommend using the ‘NONE’ location. When I import that days list to eBird, they end up being assigned to None, Kansas, rather than their actual locations. Hopefully this is something that will be fixed in future updates. Apparently they are quick to update their app which is an excellent sign.
The last thing I should mention is price. At $12.99 it is a pricey app, especially compared to what most apps are going for in the App Store, but their website indicates that 50% of the proceeds go to local bird organizations. This app definitely does a lot, I barely scratched the surface of its capabilities with this review, and seems like it is rapidly gaining new features. I think it is definitely worth the price, especially if you are an avid eBirder. Go buy it!
- Formats checklists for eBird.
- Quick entry while birding means you spend less time looking at the screen.
- Calculates distance traveled and time birding for each location on your checklist.
- Big learning curve…read the manual!
- Doesn’t do well with submitting casual observations to eBird.
- Interface takes some getting used to with figuring out what the tiny icons mean and do.
I want to thank the folks at Stevens Creek Software for providing the review copy of the app.