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    BirdsEye App Coming to Android…and the World

    LogoI assume most of the folks reading this blog are familiar with the mobile app called BirdsEye. BirdsEye was the first (and still the only) app to sync with data in the eBird database at Cornell Lab of Ornithology. By displaying bird location data from eBird onto an expandable map, BirdsEye shows you what birds are being seen nearby, can direct you to birding hotspots, and helps pinpoint the location of "target" birds — like those not on your life list yet.

    BirdsEye has been a powerful tool, but initially, "syncing" with eBird was a one-way proposition. That is, your iPhone could receive new data points in the field over 3G, but you could not submit your observations from BirdsEye to eBird on site. Instead, you'd have to go home, fire up your computer, log onto eBird, and do it "the old-fashioned way." Funny how fast these 'appy-type' things go out of vogue…

    But that will change soon, according to David Bell, co-owner of BirdsEye. Developers are expecting to roll out their first-generation data-entry from the field feature by late April. 

    Three other exciting updates are just around the bend:

    1. BirdsEye goes to Android. Beta testing starts later this month. This is great news for Android users, who felt a little out of the running when birding apps began to hit the scene.  

    Across the mobile world, developers are busy playing catch up on the Android OS and the next 12 months should bring more interesting options–especially for birding. This should also give iPhones a run for their money.

    2. BirdsEye goes worldwide. In keeping with eBird's recent world-wide expansion, BirdsEye will soon have worldwide coverage. This feature will be useful when traveling beyond US borders. Now, you can finally log the bird when you're standing at the Southmost Preserve and see a Black-vented Oriole flitting in a shrub across the Rio Grande in Mexico land space!

    3. Share your sightings: Users will soon be able to share sightings with one another from the field. Send an email to the listserv directly from your device, or send your checklist to your birding buddy via text. 

    Assuming all goes to plan, these major upgrades should roll out by April or early May.

    The full-featured BirdsEye app (with 857 North American species including rare and notables notifications) runs $19.99 in the iTunes store. Or try BirdsEye Lite (135 species) for $1.99.

    For more information, go to www.getbirdseye.com.

     P.S. Please join us for my presentation on mobile birding apps at the Biggest Week in American Birding this May near the warbler capital of the world (Magee Marsh) along western Lake Erie. Besides giving an overview of the current slate of birding apps, I'll conduct a drawing of free Redeem Codes for your favorite birding apps. Come try your luck!

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    Laura Kammermeier

    Laura Kammermeier

    Birds, nature, and travel send Laura Kammermeier over the moon. Naturally, she’s chosen to blur the line between life and work by bringing them into focus as a writer and web consultant. When not advising nature organizations and small businesses on their web marketing and social media presence, Laura is an avid birder, traveler, amateur photographer, and an oft-published writer with credits in magazines, newspapers, and online publications. Her latest writing endeavors have focused on birding, conservation, nature travel, and mobile birding technology. In fact, Laura was the freelance editor of our first annual 2010 ABA Birder's Gear Guide! Laura holds an M.S. in aquatic ecology from Kent State University. She served as founding officer of the Ohio Ornithological Society, is a former project leader for Project FeederWatch at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and consults for a clients ranging from The Nature Conservancy and ABA to mobile app developers and tourism groups. She lives with her husband and two sons in a sleepy village south of Rochester, NY, and is always looking for the next great place to chase birds. Find her on the web at BirdsWordsWebsites.com.
    • http://www.birdingisfun.com Birding is Fun!

      How exciting! I need to get myself one of those phones that does “appy” thing-a-ma-bobbers. Work has always provided me a cell phone, so I’ve never splurged on another device.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/naswick Nate Swick

      BirdsEye is fantastic, really the ultimate birder app. Even though I have the iPhone with BirdsEye, the move to Droid is going to be great. Hopefully it will encourage the use of eBird in a whole new suite of birders who may not have had a reason yet to contribute.

      The inclusion of a data-entry function is crucial, but what I’m really waiting for is the development of a voice-recognition system that can function as a voice recorder removing the need to look down at your device to enter species and numbers.

      Imagine if you could speak into your phone “50 Lesser Scaup, 4 Northern Cardinal” etc., in the field and have the app keep a list that can be uploaded to eBird automatically at the end! Some smart developer should get on that.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/laurakamms Laura Kammermeier

      That would be a sweet development. Despite how convenient it is to be armed with information, the ergonomics of using a smartphone in the field have a long way to go.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/jeffgyr Jeff Gordon

      Hey Nate,

      I believe the folks at eBird “are on that,” i.e., the voice recognition feature. I’ve heard rumors of it coming out in a matter of months. That would certainly rock.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/naswick Nate Swick

      Nice. That’s pretty exciting.

    • Debi Jamison

      Except for the Android part, you can already record, map, send to eBird, create different lists (life, county, year, whatever), upload to your desktop, send to a friend, sort lists by different criteria, travel the world, and more with Birdwatcher’s Diary software for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. And lest you think that finding the bird you want to “check” is time-consuming, Birdwatcher’s Diary has an innovative feature that makes recording as fast as writing, if not faster. Much faster than iBird or Sibley’s need to scroll through a long list of bird names. For cold climes, you can get special gloves that allow tapping on the screen. Full information is here: http://www.stevenscreek.com/birdwatchersdiary.htm
      I’ve been using it since last June, starting with the breeding bird count. It’s great for big days, Christmas bird counts, surveys, monitoring, and anytime you want to record a list. You can even input a list of butterflies, or anything else, to record. One researcher I know monitors salamanders using it.

      Regarding the ergonomics of using a smartphone in the field, I find it most convenient to hold the iPhone in the same hand that is holding the left hand side of my binoculars. When I want to check off a bird, I release the binos and do that with my right hand. Others have other techniques, but it’s certainly not more difficult than writing on a pad. I’m always losing the pencil or pen anyway.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/laurakamms Laura Kammermeier

      Hi Debi,
      Thanks for telling us about Birdwatcher’s Diary.

      I’m curious about its ability to upload to eBird – can it do that from the field? My understanding is that BirdsEye has the exclusive API on that, for a while, anyway. I tried to check that from the online video on their website, but it’s not working properly.

      Thanks!

    • John

      Debi,

      Sort of. It doesn’t upload directly to eBird, you can save a file to your desktop, then upload to ebird. This is from the Diary’s website:

      “eBird is a fixed format which creates a file which in turn can be uploaded from your desktop computer using a browser (not yet directly from Birdwatcher’s Diary) to the popular eBird site (based at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology).”

      The BirdEye update will allow you to skip this in between step.

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