Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review: Birds of Peru App.

Birds of Peru App. Birds in the Hand, LLC. Version 1. 929 MB.  Requires iOS 9.0 or later.  Compatible with iPhone,  iPad, and iPad touch.

Peru, with over 1800 bird species, is a fantastic country for birders. In 2007, Princeton University Press published Birds of Peru by Schulenberg et al.  A second edition appeared in 2010. Princeton also sells a non-interactive digital edition. The Birds in the Hand app, which I am reviewing here, is an interactive version of the second edition.

Why buy the app if you already own the book? The number one reason is the inclusion of songs for 1510 Peruvian birds. These recordings are a treasure trove for birders. The plates and maps for each species are large and excellent. Thirteen of the world’s most famous bird artists contributed full-color portraits.

The app’s organization is straightforward. A menu bar takes you to a list of Peruvian bird families. The family list links to a species list that includes thumbnails of the birds of Peru. The effective use of these lists depends on the user’s familiarity with tropical bird families. The app includes options for filtering the list by the color, size, and habitat of what you are trying to identify. The result is a list of possible birds. You can even filter the list by the general region of Peru that you are visiting. Future editions will include a “nearby” option, showing what birds are found in your GPS area.

Other links on the menu bar take you to written discussions of field marks and habitats and to large range maps. Another link takes you to bird songs. Having separate links seems a bit clunky. Too bad the links are not next to the species’ plates. Perhaps there could be a thumbnail map next to each bird’s picture. As it is, the reader has to leave the plate to get written text or maps. A final link takes you to your life list, which you must manually enter (a shame you can’t import your eBird data).

Comparing similar species is hard since there is only one species per page. Instead you must depend on the tiny thumbnail portraits in the table of contents. Brief descriptions of field marks, perhaps linked to the descriptive texts, could be included with the large portraits. Once you know what you are looking for, searching can be expedited by using four-letter codes.

This app costs $34.99 at the iTunes Store.  Princeton’s non-interactive digital book costs $26.71 at Amazon. The paperback book is $28.12 at Amazon. Some may think that the digital price is high, but, when you consider the up-front development cost, the price seems reasonable.  The songs and the filtering capabilities of the app are worth the cost of the app. Nevertheless, a hard-copy book, for me, is easier for comparing species. Traditional books do not need recharging at the end of the day. Both formats are essential for anyone interested in the birds of Peru.
(I took this photo of a White-plumed Antbird in Peru in 1972.)

1 comment:

  1. Dan, thanks for the thorough review -- no information on the app store. Once downloaded, do you know if this app requires internet access? Getting ready for a trip to Manu! thank you