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Another iBird PRO suggestion


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#1 acadonnelly

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 08:43 AM

I had another chance to use iBird in the field again this weekend, this time with a bunch of Cub Scouts and dads on a campout. I found that I really liked the program in this setting, this time I found the advantage of using "Favorites" and being able to tag the birds I wanted to show them and let them listen to, so I could quickly retrieve them. Great feature.

I did, however, find another feature that I'd like to see improved. Many of the birds have only one illustration, and typically this is of the adult male in breeding plumage. Varied Bunting is a good example. I thought "OK, I'll just go and look at the photos for the female or HY birds". But there were only two photos of the Varied Bunting under the photos tab, and they were both of breeding plumage males. I could go to the Flickr option, but a) this takes a long time to upload, and b) even if my fairly old eyes were young again, I am not sure I could easily sort through those tiny thumbnails to get the image I wanted. And even if I could, as noted it takes a long time to upload.

This is the same for many birds. Cerulean Warbler is another good example. The female and immatures can really throw you, yet all that is illustrated in iBird in the main illustration and photos are nicely colored up adult males. Having illustrations is very important, especially if this program is to be a learning tool and/or is used by less experienced (and even experienced) birders. I realize that iBird may not have artist submissions for illustrations to include of the other plumages, but why can't the photos be used to supplement these? My suggestion is to include photos in the program (under the "X photos" tab) of a variety of plumages in that particular species, and not just the nice-looking birds that are already in the iBird main illustration. Having an illustration and three photos of the adult male Cerulean Warbler, for example, is great when one runs into the adult male, but isn't especially helpful when seeing immature birds or females, which a birder will very often run into.

 andyd



#2 goofy166

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 03:59 PM

Thanks for the feedback Andy. Right now all the common backyard birds have alternative plummages (about 150) and about another 100 birds that are not found in the backyard. We are working on illustratoins ATM and plan to organize the photos by plummage somewhat like you describe.

Its really nice when our own customers help us to detemine the future of the product and so I'm wondering if you could list those birds that you feel are in most need of an alternative plummage drawing, meaning the bird is seen very easily and the alternative plummage is crtical in the ID process. This will help us to prioritize our illustrators time.

If this is too much work I understand.



#3 acadonnelly

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 08:03 PM

I can't really make a list of individual species, that would take too long, but a quick look through a field guide will identify birds in need ot this. Some general categories woudl include:

Loons and Grebes- Definitely needed, currently not included in illustrations

Herons and Reddish Egret

Ducks (most seem to be covered, although I'd be sure to get an illustration of them sitting on the water, as most people will ID them sitting on the water and not flying (which is tough)- for example CInnamon Teal male drawing is only flight and it doesn't give the oveall impression of mostly cinnamon that one gets seeing a bird on the water)

Hawks- many color phases and juveniles to be covered. Red=tailed Hawk, for example, is sorely lacking in many of the color phases, and it is a very common bird, although at least in many phases the red tail stands out.

Shorebirds- Sandpipers are an obvious one to show juveniles, especially because many have juvs that migrate later than adults and are by themselves when observed.

I'd say gulls, but that may be a bit beyond a program like this, it is such an advanced deal to peg all of the ages of these birds. Maybe later on down the road.

Alcids seem to be covered, at least the ones I glanced at. Very important to have breeding and alternate for these. Many people may go on general boat rides in places like Alaska or Maine and see one or the other.

Woodpeckers- Some juveniles would be nice.

Warblers- This is a biggie. Confusing fall warblers are high on the list, as are females adn juveniles.

Sparrows and Finches obviously, but I glanced at a few obvious ones and they seemed covered, White-crowned Sparrow for example had the juveniles included in the illustration.



#4 acadonnelly

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 05:20 AM

I guess my bottom line when I put that general list together was "What are birders in the US likely to see and how will they see them?". Cater to that and you'll cover most of what you need. Loons, for example, have pretty mcuh an equal chance of being seen in breeding as alternate plumage (when looking at the US as a whole), and usually will be seen by a birder sitting on the water. So your illustrations should primarily focus on these two plumages sitting on the water. My Cinnamon Teal comment was along the same lines, birders using the program are likely to ID a CITE (is that correct?) sitting on a lake in front of them and not flying. Although the flight illustration is also useful, but not what I would consider the most needed illustration.

I skipped several general classifications on the list because of my perceived lack of need. Seabirds, for example, don't need the work. Most people will see these on birder-lead field trips, and if you are looking for pelagic species on a boat, it is unlikely that you are going to haul out your iPhone to figure out the species. Many waders don't need the work, they are usually too easy as is, with a few exceptions. As noted, there are some that the effort will probably be wasted. Gulls is a good example. They are tough, trying to peg the different plumages of a four-year gull versus another and then you have the hybrid problem that I often hear good gull ID people discuss when looking at a bunch of gulls. Aack.

 

andyd






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