Learn More About Birds With the Audubon Birds App for Android
If you have ever wanted to learn more about the birds of North America, the Audubon Birds Field Guide app is an excellent way to start. This app is packed with detailed information about more than 750 bird species. Color photos, behavior and habitat descriptions, range maps, bird-call audio clips, and advanced search with GPS capability combine to make bird identification quicker and easier than ever before. And since it's all on your phone, you can easily carry the guide with you wherever you go.
But it's more than just a reference guide--this app also allows you to keep detailed records of your bird sightings. You can pinpoint the location with GPS, choose the species from a list, enter details about the sighting, and even snap a photograph with your phone's camera and add it to an album. If you register an account, you can sync your content online and view it on the Audubon Guides Website.
Navigating the app is simple. The home screen has six buttons labeled Browse by Shape, Browse by Name, Browse by Family, About Birds, Advanced Search, and My Content. Browse by Shape shows you bird species that have a similar shape or outline. Browse by Name is an A-to-Z list that you can sort by first (common) name, second (common) name, or scientific name. Browse by Family orders birds in similar groups, such as Ducks and Geese. About Birds is a text-only mini reference guide.
In Advanced Search you get a powerful way to look up bird species by name, zip code, shape, color, song or call type, region, and many other categories. You can even speak your search query, if you wish.
The My Content area is where you can log your bird sightings and add photos to your albums. (Will someone please make an Android phone with a really good camera?) Although it's not immediately obvious, you can use your phone's GPS function to geotag a sighting and narrow the list of potential bird species by your location. You can also sync the information to the Web for later viewing. Being able to record a voice note would be convenient, but that isn't an option.
Each bird species has its own entry in the field guide, along with a photo gallery, a range map, song and call sound clips, and a descriptive text article. You'll also find links to similar species, as well as links to add the species to your Sightings list.
A couple of things in this app need improvements. Although the photos are helpful, they are not very big, and they display only in portrait orientation, not landscape. Since visual identification is such a major feature of this app, the photos should be higher resolution, and better optimized to fill the device screen. It would also be nice if the app included video clips; perhaps a future version will add them.
Also, this app downloads a huge amount of data, storing it all on the SD Card. That is to be expected, but I encountered some problems with the download process. The Settings area has two options: download the data as needed (which works well provided that you have a data connection), or download and sync the entire database. When I selected the option to download the entire database (Wi-Fi is recommended for this task), the app hung and never completed the download. Let's hope that this issue will be fixed in an update.
Regardless, overall Audubon Birds is an excellent field guide and an exciting new tool for bird watchers.