Birds give thumbs up to iBird Explorer Plus

Discussion of non-operating system issues related to iPods, iPhones, and the iPod Touch.
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Stephen Hart
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Birds give thumbs up to iBird Explorer Plus

Post by Stephen Hart » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:41 pm

Back on the old forum, veteran birder Jerry Freilich gave the thumbs up to iBird Explorer Plus. It's like a serious field guide to birds for iPhone.
I've found it to be useful in many situations where I would ordinarily have used a bird book like Sibley or Robbins.

But today, I gave it an acid test. We were walking at the Dungeness Wildlife Refuge and thought we saw a female Goldfinch a bit far away in a tree. I pulled out the iPhone, entered Goldfinch in iBird Explorer Plus and played the first recording of the Goldfinch song. A male Goldfinch immediately flew closer to us and responded, with some irritation, that this was his territory! He responded several times to the song.

Later, we also set up duets between the iPhone and male Red-wing Blackbirds.

I was interested to see that the iPhone played well enough through its tiny speaker and that it played loud enough.

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Scientists often record calls of various mammals as well as birds, then play them back to parse out whether the calls relate to specific behaviors. These are called playback experiments. The iPhone would be excellent for that purpose. You might need a portable, battery-powered set of external speakers, but in relatively quiet surroundings, the iPhone speaker is loud enough.
http://www.acp.eugraph.com/cgi-bin/sear ... &results=0
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Se ... ment&go=Go

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Also, a stab from the past, a cached page from the old SMUG forum, where I posit that one could use Apple in-ear earphones to perform playback experiments to fleas.
http://www.straitmac.com/jforum/posts/list/1150.page
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Jay Cline
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Re: Birds give thumbs up to iBird Explorer Plus

Post by Jay Cline » Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:02 pm

Is there an app that will allow you to photograph the bird and it will tell you everything you need to know?
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Richard Serkes
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Re: Birds give thumbs up to iBird Explorer Plus

Post by Richard Serkes » Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:44 pm

Jay Cline wrote:Is there an app that will allow you to photograph the bird and it will tell you everything you need to know?
Now that would be a great hiking aid.
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Stephen Hart
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Re: Birds give thumbs up to iBird Explorer Plus

Post by Stephen Hart » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:28 pm

Jay Cline wrote:Is there an app that will allow you to photograph the bird and it will tell you everything you need to know?
Well, here's the thing. Many birds are small. Really small. And any that aren't small are far away. Really far away. And even if you can get a good photo--like many dedicated bird photographers get--you still have a problem.

Software that can recognize photographs is, like big birds, far away, really far away. (So's recognizing someone by voice. Apple's making some inroads into face recognition, but it's still pretty lame.)

So I'd say the answer is no. You pretty much need to use a book to find something that looks pretty much like your photo. (Birds are vastly easier in this respect than insects.)
A real book is much better in this respect than an iPhone app because you can flip through it. All bird guides are arranged similarly, in families. I really like the Sibley Guide to Birds, but the Stokes Field Guide to Birds is much easier to carry around.
An app like iBird is great if you have a clue what you're looking for and can then use search.

Or were you kidding?

I should add that Google image search now includes a color field. I'm not sure how well it works.
Also, technically, birds don't have thumbs.
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Re: Birds give thumbs up to iBird Explorer Plus

Post by Stephen Hart » Mon May 09, 2011 2:10 pm

Jay Cline wrote:Is there an app that will allow you to photograph the bird and it will tell you everything you need to know?
Well, I haven't tried switching back and forth between images on an iPhone, but you could photograph a bird--assuming you could get close enough with your iPhone--then check between the photos and drawings in a bird app and your photo.*

I don't know any way offhand to get a photo from your D90 to the web and then to the iPhone all in the field. Apple's Camera Connection Kit doesn't seem to work with iPhone.

* Now that I think about it, you could get SketchBook Mobile. Then you could open your iPhone photo and a screenshot from a birding app in layers, then size and arrange them and see them side by side.
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Re: Birds give thumbs up to iBird Explorer Plus

Post by Stephen Hart » Mon May 09, 2011 2:17 pm

Just in case there's a SMUG birder/iPhone/iPad owner, here are some resources on bird apps for iPhone. I might be interested in the Sibley guide, but since I have iBird, probably not immediately.

http://www.birderslibrary.com/features/ ... arison.htm
http://ibird.com/compare.aspx
http://www.mydigitalearth.com/dproducts/sibleyinfo.html
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Re: Birds give thumbs up to iBird Explorer Plus

Post by JerryFreilich » Fri May 13, 2011 9:10 pm

I don't know how you get the pictures but iBird has a specific link to use in uploading your images to the application developers.

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