App Review: BirdsEye BirdLog

BirdsEye BirdLog is a new app for entering eBird checklists while in the field. It became available for the iPhone this week (after being available for Android for the last several weeks). I tried it out on a couple of field outings this weekend and I LOVE IT! The following review / walk-through assumes you are familiar with using eBird on your home computer already (and if you're not - you should be!).

The initial menu is simple. Pick Submit Sightings to get started.

Just as when using eBird on the computer, the first step is to pick your birding location. Since this is an app on a smartphone, you can pick locations based on where the phone is situated at the moment. When you pick a Nearby Hotspot or Nearby Personal Location, the birding spots will be listed in order of proximity. If you are somewhere new, you can use a map to pick your location, just as you would on the computer.

Next you have to enter the start time for your list. This will default to the current time, but you can easily change this.

After you have picked your location and entered the start time, you are ready to record the birds you see. BirdsEye BirdLog wants you to enter the number of individuals seen, so your first keypad will be a number pad. After you hit the space bar, the alphabet keypad will appear. The app accepts 4-letter codes for the birds, and it seems to recognize many of them after just three letters. In the example below, I typed 7 [space] bhc and the app shows Brown-headed Cowbird in the list. The final step for entering a bird is clicking on the name of the bird to confirm.

I could have also typed 7 [space] cow, which would have given me the option to tap Brown-headed Cowbird, Shiny Cowbird, or Bronzed Cowbird. The search is slick in this way so you can use either 4-letter codes, proper bird names, or parts of bird names to get the final result.

If you see additional birds of the same species on your trip, you can look through the list of checked birds (the birds you have already entered on the current list) and change the number of individuals seen. But even better, you can simply enter the new sighting, and the app will add all of the birds for a single total. So using the cowbird example, if you see three more birds, you would type 3 [space] bhco to add three Brown-headed Cowbirds to your list; your total will be 10 cowbirds.

Normally when I jot down my list on paper, I stop periodically to do so rather than record every bird the moment I see/hear it. This method works well with the app. The sightings are saved if you change to a new application on your phone, and of course your in-progress list remains when you turn off the phone.

Entering notes on your sightings is easy - simply click on the name of the species to enter comments or change the number of individuals seen. For review species, I noted that you are asked to check to confirm the entry (similar to standard computer eBird data entry), but entering comments or notes on the sighting are not required for you to proceed with entering the checklist.

When you are done birding, you enter the protocol information for your checklist. The app will help you with the duration of your outing - pretty slick!

If you need to make a change to your list after you have submitted it, the app will direct you to the eBird website. Unfortunately you can't make changes to your checklists via the app at this time, though it's not terribly difficult to do so via the website on a smartphone.

Your BirdsEye BirdLog lists can be found in the My Sightings portion of the app. If you start a checklist, it will be found here. It's easy to remove false starts (or test lists) by swiping right to left on the right side of the listed checklist to reveal a delete button.

While it did take me a bit longer to enter my list on the phone compared to jotting down notes in a notepad in the field, it only takes one click at the end, "submit," to get my list onto eBird, which is my ultimate goal, anyway. This app is a huge time-saver and pretty slick besides. I can't wait to use it again! Moar birding, yeah! I give BirdsEye BirdLog 5 Goldfinches out of 5.

If you're using an Android phone, the app is available for your platform, too. I suggest reading this review by blogger Scott Simmons: Review of BirdsEye Log App for Android. The screens look a bit different though the app works the same.

Quick reminder: I have a new, personal birding blog called Powered By Birds. I hope you'll give it a look. Thank you for reading the Magnificent Frigatebird blog.


Biscuit on April 7, 2012 at 1:00 PM wrote:
$20 for this app? Ok, $10 if I only birded in the U.S. I've been a hugely loyal BirdsEye app. But I just can't fathom paying this much for an iPhone app. I get that the data syncs to eBird - but that data also benefits Cornell and all their other sales of the data. I get that it's easy to track birds, but most of my other birding apps do that. I'm floored that their "introductory" price started as high as it is.
Amy on April 7, 2012 at 1:00 PM wrote:
Hi Biscuit, the app regular price is listed at $14.99 with an introductory price of $9.99 as of right now (iPhone). As an eBird user, I find it one of the most useful apps I've used and a big time-saver, and therefore well worth the price.

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