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Birding secret: Using your smartphone to find birds

Birding secret: Using your smartphone to find birds
Posted on January 16, 2015

You can look up individual species to see how close they are to you.
When people ask me what my favorite birding app is for an iPhone, I think they expect me to answer some sort of field guide. My favorite app, however, is the BirdsEye App, which tells you what birds are being reported to eBird.
This is a tremendously handy app. Maybe you suddenly find yourself with some free time over the weekend and want to find a place to watch birds. You open the app, it pinpoints your location and lets you know what people have reported to eBird nearby. You can even tailor it to tell you about bird seen in the last month or the last week as well as specify how far away. Only want to go 10 miles or are you ready for a 50-mile drive? BirdsEye will work with you.
I use this app not only around where I live in Minneapolis, but also when I travel. If I’m going to be in Midland, Texas, I can see what birds are being reported and even figure out where to go bird watching. The app will give you directions to the spot.
The app helps confirm sightings. Perhaps you have found your first scarlet tanager, but you are not sure that’s supposed to be in the same city you are. The app tells you if other locals are reporting it on the app.
This shouldn’t be your only means for identification, but it’s great for confirmation. 
Let’s say you haven’t seen an evening grosbeak for years and you’d like to find one. Search for birds by individual species to see where they are being reported in regards to your location. This is a fun tool during migration, especially in the spring if you want to see how far away people are reporting hummingbirds and orioles. 
If you are someone who likes to keep track of your bird sightings, BirdsEye has a listing feature and will even let you know if a bird you haven’t seen is reported in the area. 
Birds Eye View App

Birds Eye View App

Nearby Birds

Nearby Birds

BirdsEye will give you a list of what birds have been recently reported near you.
Now if you aren’t interested in the bird lists, BirdsEye has a smaller app called HotSpots that tells you where the birding hot spots are and will work with map apps like Google Maps, Apple Maps, or TomTom to get you to that birding hotspot. If you want to see what birds are reported there, that requires owning the BirdsEye app. If you travel a lot, both are definitely worthwhile.
If you want to contribute your sightings to the eBird database, consider downloading the BirdsEye Log app. When you are out birding, it will pinpoint your location and you can enter in your sightings directly afield right to eBird. You can even synch it with BirdsEye to keep your birding lists updated. The app has some flexibility. Driving to work and notice a rough-legged hawk perched in a field Pull over and upload an incidental observation. If you’re sitting on a deck with friends on a summer evening, you can tally all the birds that are around you. You don’t have to be stationary either; the app lets you keep track of birds that you witnessed on a hike, up to five miles long.
These sightings benefit others who use the birding app, while contributing to range maps for birds. This is one of the ways places like Cornell Lab of Ornithology monitors the shifting ranges of birds.
It’s incredible what a little birding buddy a smartphone can be outdoors.