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.