Monday, March 19, 2012

BirdsEye Bird Log: "Killer App" for eBirders!

In the 1980's and 90's technologists were looking for that "killer app"--that one program or application that people couldn't live without--that would make people buy computers. Spreadsheets, email and the World Wide Web certainly contended for the title of killer app. No one could have foreseen that the killer app of text messaging on a telephone--of all things!--would displace the personal computer!

Last week I turned in my pre-2000 Nokia cell phone ("candy bar" shape, external antenna, tiny monochrome LCD display, no games). It still works fine, the battery has never been replaced. I've never dropped or lost it. When it would ring I would joke that it must be a wrong number, which it was about 75% of the time. It lasted so long because I rarely used it. I didn't call or receive calls very often, and texting was so difficult that anything more than "ok" or "no" was all I usually replied--I never initiated a text message. It was just an emergency phone.

So what prompted me to buy the latest Andoid Smart Phone?

The BirdsEye Log eBird Application!

The BirdsEye Log app lets you enter your eBird checklists from the field, in real time. What's the big deal? The app uses GPS to find your location on the map with eBird hotspot locations and your personal locations shown. Select one of these or create a new location, with a name selected by Bird Log based on your location, or choose a name of your own.

Start the app when you begin birding and add species and numbers as you go. See more of a species already entered? No problem, either scroll down to the bird in the list and edit your number or add additional individuals by entering the additional numbers and the name again. Bird names auto-complete, but you can also use the bander's 4-letter code. This is quick and easy!

Some birders are even using the app to enter past trips, though I prefer the larger keyboard of my laptop and using the eBird web site.

This app is going to prompt you to enter more eBird checklists. It will locate precisely your incidental sightings. You're going to find yourself stopping randomly at good-looking habitat and making a quick 5 or 10 minute survey of birds. This app will make tracking multiple stops during your day's birding so much easier!

Amazingly, it will work even if you are out of range of any cell towers. Then just save the results and submit the checklists when you are back in range!

It is not perfect, of course. I suspect that it will not plot your midpoint for traveling transects. So you may have to move your plotted positions later. You cannot edit the position of previously submitted checklists from the app. You have to do that from the web interface for eBird. There are a couple other things that the app could use. Buy a car charger, because the app will be on longer and using the GPS feature of your phone, which uses battery power.

The Android version of BirdsEye Log has been out for a couple of months, with generally good reviews. The iPhone version is just out. Cost is $9.95, which I understand is a high price for Smart Phone apps. But I think it's worth it.

BirdsEye demo from the creators.

March 12, 2012 review by Scott Simmons.

February 9, 2012 review by Dan Tallman.

(BirdsEye Log entry screen image obtained from the Google Play marketplace for Android.)


  1. Ooh that's pretty cool! I'm a recent eBird convert due mainly to the large discussion on OBOL. Now if only my phone had access to the android/iPhone app markets...

  2. Another feature that the smart phone will add is the ability to read OBOL in the field... AND... the ability to send reports of rarities in the field directly to OBOL.

    In theory, I should also be able to post text and digiscoped phone photos from the field to this blog...

  3. Well, i'm not running out and getting a smart phone. But it does look pretty slick.

    These folks have a Youtube channel with quite a few short vids showing off some of BirdsEye features.

    greg haworth

  4. Pretty cool- though my phone does have internet so I keep OBOL bookmarked for easy access. I will have to check out those youtubes.

  5. Just down-loaded the app and am now in the learning phase. So Cool.

  6. >The iPhone version is just out.

    Do you have a link to where I can get the iPhone App?

    1. I got an email from the developer after you wrote this, Norm. He said Apple had the app for 10 days already, but it hadn't appeared in the store yet, so no link for you to buy it. Let me look again at the Birdseye page...

      YES! it's there!

      Birdseye for iPhone

  7. $20 for the app (ok, if I only birded in n.a. it could drop to an "introductory" price of $10)?? I don't think this is worth me forking over the money for, yet. I'm an avid BirdsEye user - so Cornell can make a great product. I just am not happy that they are trying to charge me this high of a price. We both get value of me logging my sightings. In fact they SELL my data as part of BirdsEye. I think I'll start logging my birds into one of the other birding identification apps that I already have.

    1. Just remember that BirdLog eliminates the need to copy birds from the field into your notebook, and then the time later to copy them from your notebook into eBird. Without BirdLog you are basically entering your notes twice! If it takes 2-3 minutes to enter a checklist in eBird, and you average a checklist per day, that would be 730-1095 minutes saved per year--over 18 hours. How much is your time worth?

      The extra time it takes to enter your sightings into eBird after you get back home was one of the "excuses" used by many birders for their lack of adoption of eBird.