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The BirdsEye Bird Finding app is already one of the most useful mobile apps for birders, allowing you to access eBird data on-the-go and find birds and hotspots near you. But the BirdsEye team has been steadily improving the app and adding new features. They’ve recently announced the availability of additional sound packages for many regions of the world.

The Sounds

BirdEye has partnered with birdsounds.nl, a company that has produced many highly acclaimed bird sound collections. The collections available in the BirdsEye app are:

  • Peru
  • Colombia
  • Venezuela
  • Brazil
  • Costa Rica
  • Nicaragua
  • Northern Siberia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Australia
  • Belgium and Holland

These things are extensive! Costa Rica, for example, includes 2,061 recordings of 764 species (over 15 hours’ worth), while Colombia has 5,500+ recordings of over 1,600 species (46 hours!). Altogether, they average 2-3 sounds per species, but some birds have many more than that if warranted. I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the sounds available, but the ones I’ve listened to sound great.

Using the Sounds

You play the sounds from each bird’s species page. The easiest way to access those is to use the Nearby Birds or Browse All Species functions from the home screen. You can also get to them from the bird lists for each hotspot.

Even with these options, I felt that something was missing. I wanted a way to view and play all of the sounds from a given package, but just the ones from that package. I finally discovered a way to do so. Go back to the Bird Guide Store, tap on a package you’ve purchased, then go to the Bird List. Tapping on the names here will take you to the Species Account page where you can play the sound.

Playing the sounds is very simple – just tap on the speaker icon at the bottom of the species page. That brings up a list of all the sounds for that species across all the packages that you own. Then just tap on the sound that you want to play. Note that if you’ve downloaded the sounds for offline use that the topmost one starts playing automatically when you tap the speaker icon. That could be problematic depending on where you are and what you’re doing (it could potentially scare away a bird), but that’s easy to deal with if you’re prepared for it.

BirdsEye species account screen

Tapping the speaker icon on the bottom-left of a bird's page...

BirdsEye sound playback screen

...gives you the sound playback screen in BirdsEye.

This interface is a little too simple for my taste. From the screen you can only switch sounds, pause, or close the list. You cannot skip ahead or backwards within the track or set it to repeat. Also, a progress bar appears when playing, but it would be nice to have the total time and time elapsed displayed as well. Finally, the sounds are labelled as “song” or “call”. Rarely, further information is displayed, like “Pacific” or “Caribbean”, but it would be nice if this was done on a more consistent basis.

Getting the Sounds

BirdsEye sound packagesYou can purchase the sound packages either from the BirdsEye website or directly in the main BirdsEye app or the BirdsEye North America app (they are not available in the other regional apps) by going to the Bird Guide Store from the app home screen. From there, you can find extensive details on each package, including the list of birds included. Once you purchase the package, the sounds are instantly available within the app over the cloud (provided you’re connected to the internet, of course). Alternatively, you can download the whole package, which I would recommend if you’ll be traveling as you may not always have a reliable network connection. If you later need the space back, you can easily clear the data within the app without worry, because you can download the packages as many times as you want and from any device that you own.

BirdsEye sound package info BirdsEye sound package bird list

However, there’s one catch. You have the sounds, but you need to be able to access those species in BirdsEye. To do that, you need to have either a membership subscription ($4.99 or $9.99/month) or the appropriate regional app. For instance, if you purchase the Bird Sounds of Peru collection, you need to make sure that you also have access to Peruvian birds either through a membership or purchase of BirdsEye South America. Update: This is not the case. I’ve been informed that when you purchase a sound package, you also get full access and content for those birds in the app.

That’s not very straightforward, but this process is going to be made more user-friendly soon. Shortly, the main BirdsEye app will become free and will give you access to the 50 most common species anywhere you are on the planet. (The newly released Android version of BirdsEye already does this.) Then there will be several options to see more species:

  1. Purchasing a membership will give you eBird data and BirdsEye content (photos and text where available) for all of the species on Earth as well as unlimited favorite locations
  2. Purchasing a region will give you eBird data and BirdsEye content for all of the species in that region
  3. Purchasing a sound pack will give you access to that content, plus eBird data and BirdsEye content for all of those species

These sound packages are a great addition to an already useful app. If you’re going to be birding any of these regions, they’re a great way to have the bird sounds always at your fingertips. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how important that is. These packages aren’t cheap ($24.99-$49.49 each), but they’re a good deal considering how many recordings you get. And purchasing them through BirdsEye is actually cheaper than getting them on discs, and much more convenient.

Disclosure: These sound packages were provided by the publisher for review purposes. But the opinion expressed here is my own, it has not been influenced in any way.

University Press Week 2014 logoThis week (November 9-15, 2014) is University Press Week. You may not be very familiar with them, but birders ought to be thankful for university presses, for without them many of the bird books that we use and love would have never been published. I did a quick survey of the bird books published in 2014 alone and found that at least 18 of them are from university presses. And for North American birders, if you’ve ever birded anywhere else in the world, chances are very good that the field guide you used was published by a university press.

So, as a birder who loves his bird books, I say, “Long live university presses!”

by James Alexander Currie, with Bonnie J. Fladung

A birding tv show host and former African game ranger has some pretty awesome stories.

Read the full review »

Birds of Australia Photographic GuideBirds of Australia: A Photographic Guide
by Iain Campbell, Sam Woods, and Nick Leseberg

From Princeton University Press:

Australia is home to a spectacular diversity of birdlife, from parrots and penguins to emus and vibrant passerines. Birds of Australia covers all 714 species of resident birds and regularly occurring migrants and features more than 1,100 stunning color photographs, including many photos of subspecies and plumage variations never before seen in a field guide. Detailed facing-page species accounts describe key identification features such as size, plumage, distribution, behavior, and voice. This one-of-a-kind guide also provides extensive habitat descriptions with a large number of accompanying photos. The text relies on the very latest IOC taxonomy and the distribution maps incorporate the most current mapping data, making this the most up-to-date guide to Australian birds.

  • Covers all 714 species of resident birds and regularly occurring migrants
  • Features more than 1,100 stunning color photos
  • Includes facing-page species accounts, habitat descriptions, and distribution maps
  • The ideal photographic guide for beginners and seasoned birders alike

 

A little big to carry into the field, but lots of nice photos make this an excellent photographic reference/secondary field guide for Australia.

 

Birds of Australia: A Photographic Guide
by Iain Campbell, Sam Woods, and Nick Leseberg
Paperback; 392 pages
Princeton University Press; November 9, 2014
ISBN: 978-0691157276
$35.00

Bird Field Guide App Coverage Map

The countries and regions covered by bird field guide apps.

Being able to have a field guide with me at all times is one of the things I like best about my smart phone. Bird field guide apps provide all the material normally found in print guides, plus things like sounds, checklists, and extra information, with more features constantly being added. I love it!

These apps are even better for traveling birders, allowing you to have all the information of a field guide with none of the bulk. Many areas of the world now have a field guide app available for them. Here’s a list of all the apps available for Apple and Android devices.

Note, I’m only including apps that are primarily meant to be field guides. Some others, such as BirdsEye, include illustrations and sounds, but their primary purpose is not identification.

If I’ve missed any, please let me know in the comments below.

North America

United States and Canada

For more details on these apps, see my Bird Guide App Comparison.

Audubon Birds — A Field Guide to North American BirdsAudubon Birds — A Field Guide to North American Birds
Photographs; 821 species
iTunes | Google Play

iBird Ultimate Guide to BirdsiBird Ultimate Guide to Birds
Paintings and photographs; 938 species
Review (“Pro” version)
iTunes | Google Play (“Pro” version)

National Geographic Birds: Field Guide to North America appNational Geographic Birds: Field Guide to North America
Paintings; 995 species
iTunes

Peterson Birds of North America appPeterson Birds of North America
Paintings; 800+ species
Review
iTunes

The Sibley eGuide to the Birds of North AmericaThe Sibley eGuide to the Birds of North America
Paintings; 814 species
Review
iTunes | Google Play

birdJam HeadsUp WarblersbirdJam HeadsUp Warblers
Photographs; 57 species
Review
iTunes

birdJam HeadsUp SparrowsbirdJam HeadsUp Sparrows
Photographs; 47 species
Review
iTunes

 

Central America and Caribbean

Costa Rica

Costa Rica Birds Field GuideCosta Rica Birds Field Guide
Photographs; 620+ species
iTunes | Google Play

Dominican Republic / Haiti

The Birds of Haiti and the Dominican RepublicThe Birds of Haiti and the Dominican Republic
Paintings; 58 bird species and subspecies that are unique to the island of Hispaniola
iTunes

Panama

Panama Birds Field GuidePanama Birds Field Guide
Photographs; 550+ species
iTunes | Google Play

 

South America

Brazil

Birds of BrazilBirds of Brazil
Photographs; 1800+ species
iTunes

Ecuador

Birds of EcuadorBirds of Ecuador
Photographs; 350 species
iTunes

Hummingbirds of EcuadorHummingbirds of Ecuador
Photographs; 97 species
iTunes

 

Europe

Europe

Birds of EuropeBirds of Europe
Photographs; 448 species
iTunes | Google Play

Collins Bird Guide – The Ultimate Field Guide for Britain & EuropeCollins Bird Guide
Includes the entire Western Palearctic: Europe, Africa north of the Sahara, and a portion of the Middle East
Paintings; 700+ species
iTunes

Northern Europe

Birds of Northern EuropeBirds of Northern Europe
Paintings, along with some photos; 352 species
iTunes

Britain and Ireland

Bird Id - British BirdsBird Id – British Birds
Photographs; 250 species
iTunes | Google Play

Birder - Guide to Birds of Britain and IrelandBirder – Guide to Birds of Britain and Ireland
Paintings; 247 species
iTunes

Birds of Britain and IrelandBirds of Britain and Ireland
Paintings, along with some photos; 271 species
iTunes

iBird UK and Ireland Guide to BirdsiBird UK & Ireland Guide to Birds
Paintings and photographs; 283 species
iTunes

RSPB eGuide to British BirdsRSPB eGuide to British Birds
Paintings; 290+ species
iTunes | Google Play

 

Asia

Indian Subcontinent

eGuide to Birds of the Indian SubcontinenteGuide to Birds of the Indian Subcontinent
Paintings; 1300+ species
iTunes | Google Play

Japan

Japanese BirdsJapanese Birds
Photographs; 250 species
iTunes | Google Play

Korea

Birds of Korea ProBirds of Korea Pro
Paintings and photographs; 450 species
iTunes | Google Play

Middle East

eGuide to Birds of the Middle EasteGuide to Birds of the Middle East
Paintings; 800+ species
iTunes | Google Play

Collins Bird Guide – The Ultimate Field Guide for Britain & EuropeCollins Bird Guide
Includes the entire Western Palearctic: Europe, Africa north of the Sahara, and a portion of the Middle East
Paintings; 700+ species
iTunes

Singapore

Birds of SingaporeBirds of Singapore
Photographs; 375 species
iTunes | Google Play

 

Africa

East Africa

eGuide to Birds of East AfricaeGuide to Birds of East Africa
Paintings; 1300+ species
iTunes | Google Play

North Africa

Collins Bird Guide – The Ultimate Field Guide for Britain & EuropeCollins Bird Guide
Includes the entire Western Palearctic: Europe, Africa north of the Sahara, and a portion of the Middle East
Paintings; 700+ species
iTunes

Southern Africa

Newman’s Birds of Southern AfricaNewman’s Birds of Southern Africa
Paintings; 975 species
iTunes

Roberts Multimedia Birds of Southern AfricaRoberts Multimedia Birds of Southern Africa
Paintings; 962 species
iTunes | Google Play

Sasol eBirds of Southern AfricaSasol eBirds of Southern Africa
Paintings, with photos available as in-app purchase; 969 species
iTunes | Google Play

 

Australia and Pacific Islands

Australia

The Michael Morcombe and David Stewart eGuide to the Birds of AustraliaThe Michael Morcombe and David Stewart eGuide to the Birds of Australia
Paintings; 790+ species
iTunes | Google Play

Pizzey & Knight Birds of AustraliaPizzey & Knight Birds of Australia
Paintings and photographs; 900+ species
iTunes | Google Play

New Zealand

Birds of New ZealandBirds of New Zealand
Photographs; 360+ species
iTunes | Google Play

Tons of reviews this month. When I started this site almost eight years ago, having so many bird book reviews published in a month would have been…well, it just didn’t happen. Say what you want about the rest of the Internet (do we really need a quiz to find out what obscure Saturday-morning cartoon character you are?), but I’m glad that we now have so much information about the books out there.

When Eagles Roar: The Amazing Journey of an African Wildlife AdventurerWhen Eagles Roar: The Amazing Journey of an African Wildlife Adventurer
by James Alexander Currie, with Bonnie J. Fladung

From Ukhozi Press:

Follow the daring safari of James Currie as his love of birds, fascination with wildlife and craving for adventure lead him into humorous and life threatening situations. James captures the essence of what it means to be African today, facing everything from the Big Five to the vestiges of apartheid to the AIDS epidemic. He provides authoritative information on African wildlife and illustrates hair-raising encounters with lions, buffalo, leopards, elephants, rhinoceros and snakes through exciting and humorous stories. The book follows James’s journey from city boy to conservationist and shows what it takes to become an African game ranger. From his first graphic encounter with the brutality of nature on Table Mountain in South Africa to his disappearance as a boy on safari in Malawi to the rigorous training he underwent to become a game ranger at Phinda Private Game Reserve, this book will delight and educate anyone fascinated with nature, wildlife, travel and adventure. James provides wonderful insights into African conservation and a fascinating glimpse into the importance of cross-cultural relationships in Africa’s wildlife tourism environment. He details his own inner journey overcoming physical challenges and finding the balance between following passions and what’s important in life.

 

This memoir, from the host of Birding Adventures TV, is one of the best books I’ve read this year.

 

When Eagles Roar: The Amazing Journey of an African Wildlife Adventurer
by James Alexander Currie, with Bonnie J. Fladung
Paperback; 312 pages
Ukhozi Press; September 27, 2014
ISBN: 978-0990766001
$15.95

by Errol Fuller

An excellent introduction to this bird and its extinction.

Read the full review »

Birds of New Guinea 2nd EditionBirds of New Guinea: Second Edition
by Thane K. Pratt and Bruce M. Beehler

From Princeton University Press:

This is the completely revised edition of the essential field guide to the birds of New Guinea. The world’s largest tropical island, New Guinea boasts a spectacular avifauna characterized by cassowaries, megapodes, pigeons, parrots, cuckoos, kingfishers, and owlet-nightjars, as well as an exceptionally diverse assemblage of songbirds such as the iconic birds of paradise and bowerbirds. Birds of New Guinea is the only guide to cover all 780 bird species reported in the area, including 366 endemics. Expanding its coverage with 111 vibrant color plates–twice as many as the first edition–and the addition of 635 range maps, the book also contains updated species accounts with new information about identification, voice, habits, and range. A must-have for everyone from ecotourists to field researchers, Birds of New Guinea remains an indispensable guide to the diverse birds of this remarkable region.

  • 780 bird species, including 366 found nowhere else
  • 111 stunning color plates, twice the number of the first edition
  • Expanded and updated species accounts provide details on identification, voice, habits, and range
  • 635 range maps
  • Revised classification of birds reflects the latest research

 

The first edition of this guide was published almost 30 years ago and, long out-of-print, was commanding big bucks. Needless to say, this new edition has been much anticipated. If you’re lucky enough to go birding in New Guinea, you’ll want this field guide.

 

Birds of New Guinea: Second Edition
by Thane K. Pratt and Bruce M. Beehler
Paperback; 528 pages
Princeton University Press; October 1, 2014
ISBN: 978-0691095639
$49.50

Birds of Western Africa 2nd EditionBirds of Western Africa: Second Edition
by Nik Borrow and Ron Demey

From Princeton University Press:

This revised and expanded edition of Birds of Western Africa is now the most up-to-date field guide available to the 1,285 species of birds found in the region–from Senegal and southern Mauritania east to Chad and the Central African Republic and south to Congo. It now features all maps and text opposite the plates for quick and easy reference. The comprehensive species accounts have been fully updated and expanded, and the color distribution maps have been completely revised. This premier guide also includes more than 3,000 illustrations on 266 stunning color plates.

Compact and lightweight, this new edition of Birds of Western Africa is the must-have field guide to one of the most exciting birding regions in the world.

  • The premier field guide to West African birds–now completely revised and expanded
  • Covers all 1,285 species found in the region
  • Features fully updated maps and text opposite the plates for easy reference

 

The timing of this new edition could be better – I doubt many birders are going to this region right now. Hopefully, this horrible Ebola outbreak will be over soon. And when it is, this looks like a good field guide to have for the region.

 

Birds of Western Africa: Second Edition
by Nik Borrow and Ron Demey
Paperback; 592 pages
Princeton University Press; October 26, 2014
ISBN: 978-0691159201
$45.00