Review: Sibley eGuide App

Drew WeberApps, Reviews6 Comments

David Allen Sibley, author of the incredibly useful Sibley Guide to Birds of North America has just added another publication. The Sibley eGuide to Birds of North America is an iPhone/iPod Touch app that takes all the information from his popular print guides and adds bird calls for each species as well as several other useful features to create a very portable edition of his guide.

Ever since I first began using the Sibley guides, I have been continuously impressed with how accurately he portrayed the birds in various poses, both perching and flying, and at different ages. There have been numerous occasions when I read about a “new” field mark to use, only to look in Sibley and it is already perfectly illustrated. He also shows the wide range of variation exhibited by many species of birds. This has now been brought to a much more portable form factor in the iPhone.

One great feature of this app is that you are able to compare two different species on the screen at the same time. The app allows you to flip thru all the available illustrations of each bird for comparison as well as bring up the range maps (left) and songs/calls for comparison. As you can see below (right), there is also a good selection of songs for each species, better than any iPhone app I have tried so far.

Perhaps the strongest feature of this app is the sheer number of high quality illustrations for each species. Each species is shown in each distinctive plumage as well as in flight. This is great when you are trying to find a Lapland Longspur hiding in a flock of Horned Larks and want to quickly see what field marks to scan for.

A great example of the included illustrations is the Red-tailed Hawk. There are no less than 39 illustrations of Red-tailed Hawks in addition to 7 silhouettes, depicting all the different forms from eastern to Krider’s and Harlan’s at several different ages, in flight from above and below, and perched. It is easy to quickly flick up and down between the different illustrations.

For each species there is size, habitat and behaviour information as well as descriptions of the songs and calls they make.. Some other features include the ability to set you location and then have your list limited to birds in your region, keep track of your life list, and search for birds by habitat, color and other attributes.

So far I am pretty impressed with the app and can see myself actually referencing this in the field. Sibley has once again released the field guide that made all others look obsolete in comparison. No other app provides the comprehensive audio and illustrations available on the Sibley eGuide. This app will join BirdsEye as my daily references for birding. Let me know in the comments what you think about this new app.

Buy the Sibley eGuide for $29.99 on the iTunes store.

  • Thanks, great summary! I’ve been trying to decide if the app is worth the $30 and it appears from this post that it is.

  • Well you consider the price just for a set of bird song CDs, $30 seems like a good deal. Add in Sibley’s excellent illustrations, perched and in flight, and it seems like you’ve got a good thing here. At the very least, I think the illustrations make it superior to iBird, which has frankly awful illustrations, but I don’t know anything about the usability.

  • I found the app pretty easy to use, maybe could use a more iPhone-esque interface but pretty nice overall. One wish would be to expand the illustrations to full screen.

  • Otto

    We are going to have the ability to expand the illustrations in due course. Please contact us at mydigitalearth.com with comments and suggestions.

  • Steve

    Can the app be transferred, via cloud I presume, from one iPhone to another and/or to an iPad. My wife has, and loves, the app on her phone but it does not appear in our purchased list I can’t figure out how to share it.