New eBird/iPhone app puts local knowledge in your pocket

December 3, 2009
eBird app screen

Here comes another leap forward in knowing where to go birding: the BirdsEye iPhone app. Combining the huge data stores and mapping abilities of eBird, photos from VIREO, sounds from the Cornell Lab’s Macaulay Library, and descriptions from Kenn Kaufman, BirdsEye can help you plan your birding outings on the fly.

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Ever since the days of rare bird hotlines and birding listservs we’ve been getting better and faster at telling each other where our best sightings are. BirdsEye now lets you tap into any species recently reported to eBird in North America north of Mexico, making it useful to beginners and hardcore listers alike. (The eBird sightings database, a joint project of the Cornell Lab and Audubon, gets upwards of 1 million reports per month.)

BirdsEye allows you to choose your location and browse maps of nearby sightings reported in the last few weeks—it even tells you how long ago the last sighting was. Or you can choose a species and find out if it’s been seen near you recently. You can even get directions to it. As developer Todd Koym says, “It’s like having thousands of local birding experts in your pocket.”

Once you’re out birding, BirdsEye gives you resources to identify the birds you’re looking for. You can see photos of each species, listen to recordings of the birds singing and calling, and read tips on behavior and habitat written especially for the app by birding veteran Kenn Kaufman. You can use BirdsEye to keep track of your life list (and the app will even tell you how many birds near you would be lifers!).

BirdsEye is on sale now on the App Store, and it works on both iPhone and iPod touch. For $19.99 you get information, sounds, and photos for 470 frequently seen North American species. You can upgrade to the full complement of 847 species for another $19.99—or purchase groups of species like warblers and hawks at smaller increments, according to a nice review of BirdsEye at Birder’s World magazine.

BirdsEye is produced by Birds in the Hand LLC of Virginia. Portions of BirdsEye sales go back to the Cornell Lab to help support our research, education, and citizen science projects, and to the Academy of Natural Sciences to support VIREO, the world’s largest collection of bird photographs.

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