Bird’s Eye: Best Canadian Birding Destinations

By Avery T Phillips

As the second largest country in the world and home to more than 680 species of birds, Canada is a bird lover’s paradise.

Canada’s varied landscape has vast swaths of wilderness, rich with natural beauty. It also consists of forests, the Rocky Mountains, glaciers, swamps, rolling plains, and more lakes than any other country. It’s no wonder birds have made the Great White North their home.

Let’s take a look at five bird-watching sites that are perfect for avian enthusiasts and photographers alike. It’s time to go birding!

Point Pelee National Park

This national park is located in southwestern Ontario in Essex County where it extends 15 kilometers into Lake Eerie. Around 370 species have been spotted here. Pelee is French for “bald.”

“[Point Pelee National Park] is one of the most important bird watching locations in North America, playing host to songbirds during its annual northward migration during the spring and hawks during the fall,” says To Do Canada.

Because it’s the most well-known and frequented birding locations in Canada, expect Point Pelee National Park to be a busy place, especially during the Festival of Birds in May when people from all over come to watch the spring bird migrations.

The national park was named one of the top 15 birding spots in North America by Birder’s World magazine and is often known as the “Warbler capital of Canada.” It is a protected ecological region.

Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve

Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve is the most easily accessible seabird colony in North America and is located about 2 hours southwest of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

“This captivating area is one of seven protected seabird ecological reserves,” according to Newfoundland Labrador. “Its natural beauty makes it perfect for nature walks and family adventures.

Some of the seabird colonies include:

• Black-legged kittiwakes

• Northern gannets

• Thick-billed murres

• Lesser golden plovers

Long-tailed ducks

• Harlequins

• Razorbills

• Double-crested and great cormorants

Top tip from David M. Bird, emeritus professor of wildlife biology at McGill University: Visit the nearby bogs and fens that are home to willow ptarmigan and watch whales below the seaside cliffs. Bird is also the consulting editor for the best-selling books “Birds of Canada” and “Pocket Birds of Canada.”

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

In the Calgary area, there are many different bird-watching areas. The 36-hectare wildlife reserve has more than 2 kilometers of walking trails and over 1 kilometer of nature trails throughout the forest, plus a nature center to learn more about the sanctuary.

Within the city there are two major rivers: the Bow and the Elbow. There are three large creeks, Fish Creek, Nose Creek and West Nose Creek, and a large man-made lake called the Glenmore Reservoir.

While there are natural settings for birds within the city, each year the migration of birds is hindered by metropolitan areas, as we’ve discussed in a previous blog post about the effects of light pollution on urban birds. Urban areas can cause migrating birds to circle and investigate lit areas, which forces them to expend unnecessary energy en route to their destination.

Machias Seal Island

Machias Seal Island is a tiny, 18-acre island between New Brunswick and Maine. It’s a flat, treeless rock about 19 kilometers south of Grand Manan Island and 16 kilometers east of the Maine coast.

It’s a popular and unique sanctuary for many kinds of seabirds, including the Atlantic puffin and draws visitors from around the world to observe them in the summer. Access to the island is very limited, so plan in advance.

Machias Seal Island is home to a lighthouse, which during non-nesting season, the only occupants on the island are two lighthouse keepers. The lighthouse has been maintained by the Canadian Coast Guard for over 100 years.

Sheffield Mills, Nova Scotia

Eagles abound in the rural farming community of Sheffield Mills, located about 100 kilometers northwest of Halifax. For about three months during the winter, area farmers leave chickens and other agricultural carrion for the birds of prey in some of the surrounding fields while birders flock to the area for the event.

“The feedings — of which there are two or three per day — are one reason the eagles are drawn to the region, as well as the Annapolis Valley’s slightly milder climate, which motivates birds from places like windswept Cape Breton to migrate there during the winter months,” according to an article on Toronto Metro.

Chucking chicken scraps to the eagles in Sheffield Mills is a tradition that goes back decades and is celebrated each year with a festival.

Hopefully some of these destinations have inspired you to add some Canadian bird-watching sites to your list. Canada’s beautiful landscapes and large expanses of wilderness are wonderful enough. If you’re a birder, it’s even better. And one thing is for sure: One of Canada’s greatest treasures is its birds.

The Top 5 Birds to Watch for This Winter

The Top 5 Birds to Watch for This Winter


By Avery T Phillips

Winter bird watching is always a treat for birders due to predictable migration patterns. Gregarious bird species migrate in flocks, creating beautiful and easily identifiable displays during the colder months. Winter bird watching can be chilly but well worth bearing the lower temperatures. Grab your phone and BirdsEye, and ensure that car is ready for the travels — put your all-weather tires on, check your spare has air, get an oil change and hit the road.

Local wildlife and bird reserves are spectacular places to visit with a thermos full of coffee and a day of birding. The following are the top five birds worth traveling for to see this winter.

1.   Snow Bunting

photo of snow buntingThe Snow Bunting calls the arctic tundra home during the summer months but travels to the northern United States during the winter. These sparrow-sized birds build their nests in rock crevices that they line with the grasses, fur, moss and feathers they find. They travel and forage in large numbers, making them highly visible in large open fields.

Females camouflage easily with the winter snow with their white chest and light brown wings. In the fall, you will see the males molting to achieve their striking black and white breeding colors. They will rub their wing tips against the snow to shed their brown tips to become completely black on their back and wings, keeping their pure white chest intact.

2. Evening Grosbeak

This finch can typically be seen as a flash of yellow against green conifer forests of the north throughout the summer. As the weather starts to turn colder they move to the southern states in search of food and warmer temperatures.

These big-chested finches can often be spotted at your bird feeder for those that live in the southern half of the states. The males are strikingly colored with a bright yellow eyebrow streak and body. The females’ coloring is more subtle, but they do have a flamboyant green beak to marvel at. Enjoy the sightings of these birds when you can because they have become increasingly rare as their numbers have been steadily dropping for years.

3. Snowy Owl

Large irruptions of this majestic bird occur every 3 to 5 years — the last big irruption was in 2013-2014, where they came down from the arctic to areas as far south as Florida. What makes the sighting of this owl noteworthy is that they are the largest of the owl family (by weight). They have catlike eyes and have been made popular with children through the Harry Potter films.

They travel south from their remote breeding grounds of the arctic to hunt in the northern half of the states. It can be difficult to spot an older male in a snowy landscape as they become paler and almost entirely white as they mature. The females tend to have a more salt-and-pepper coloring that makes them more available to the birding eye.

4. Northern Goshawk

At the top of the food chain and an indicator species, these birds can be seen year round in the Rockies but tend to be more active in the winter as food becomes scarce. They frequent the mid to northern portion of the Rocky Mountains. This predatory bird is one of the larger species of hawks and feeds on rabbits, squirrels and other birds found in the Rockies.

If you are wanting to catch a sight of a Norther Goshawk, look up. You will typically find them in the canopy of conifer and boreal forests searching for prey. Up there you will find these steel-grey winged birds with gleaming red eyes. Due to their speed and maneuverability, watching them hunt is an impressive show of skill and precision.

5. Snow Geese

These geese will likely be found congregating in the same places as their more common relative, the Canadian Goose. You can find this abundant species in colonies in many different areas throughout North America. They are most often found in western California, the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, the coast from New Jersey to North Carolina, Iowa, Nebraska and throughout the southwest.

When these high-flying birds fill the sky, they look like large snowflakes about to come raining down upon the earth. This species is dimorphic and comes in two different colors: blue and white. The dark allele (blue) is dominant to the light (white). Once you catch sight of a flock, you can sit and enjoy them for quite some time. They are a foraging species and will spend an enduring length of time in a single area before moving on.

Staying at Home

If you don’t feel like traveling for this year’s fall and winter bird watching, simply travel to your backyard. Wild birds appreciate the feeders that you set up in your yard and will likely visit them to stockpile on energy reserves before making their migration south. You may be lucky enough to live in an area that you can see one of the five birds listed above from your kitchen window.

Backyard feeders are also helpful to migratory birds passing through when food sources start to become scarce and provide a readily available, nutrient-dense meal. If you create a continuous supply, birds will imprint on the location and return in the fall or keep around winter species all season long.

Some of the best items to include in your backyard feeder during the fall and winter are:

  • Nuts
  • Nyjer
  • Millet
  • Corn
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Suet

Until Next Year

You can plan out your route to move across the northern United States using BirdsEye to catch a sight of all five of the wintering birds that come to spend their time there. When you return from your trip in the late fall and early winter, make sure to winterize your RV, car or truck so that you are ready to hit the road in time to catch the spring migration. Happy winter trails and bird watching!


BirdsEye Sound Files & Audio Collections

Some of the more frequent questions coming into our Help Desk (support@getbirdseye.com) are about the audio collections and sound files in BirdsEye.  Bird sound files are included for almost all species of North American birds, but generally if you are interested in calls and songs for birds outside of North America the additional purchase of an audio collection is required.

Key Points about BirdsEye Audio Collections

  • Audio collections are a one-time purchase that includes the sound files for the area, plus access to eBird sightings, images and text for the species that are covered in the sound package. An additional membership for the region is not needed.
  • Audio collections are available for the following countries and regions:
  • Rather than a separate app these are collections of sound files that are accessed and played using BirdsEye by tapping the sound icon.
  • When purchasing on our website (BirdsEyeBirding.com) there is also an option to buy sound package with mp3 format as well as the BirdsEye extension. This option is for users who want to use sound files with third party sound management applications that can be played on a PC or mobile device outside of BirdsEye.

Costa Rica

Peninsular Malaysia

Belgium and Holland
Northern Siberia

Audio Collections

The North America bird library in BirdsEye includes bird sounds provided through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library. BirdsEye pays royalties to the Library in order to offer these sounds to you. Unfortunately the royalties for bird sounds outside of North America would put the price of a BirdsEye membership out of reach for many of our customers. In order to keep these memberships affordable we decided to not include sounds with them. However, audio collections are available as an additional purchase for many regions

We are excited to work with the fantastic bird recordists at BirdSounds.nl to offer their extensive audio collections through the BirdsEye app. The sounds are accessed within BirdsEye, which you can download for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play. They are available to you when you login BirdsEye with your username (your email address) and password. Just tap the speaker icon next to the bird and all the songs and calls for that bird will be shown.

Purchasing sound collections also gives you access to eBird sightings, images and text for the species that are included in the sound package at no additional cost. If you aren’t already using BirdsEye, simply download the free version of BirdsEye from the App Store or Google play and purchase the sound files as an in-app purchase. or at a discount through our website. **register with the same email address you used to make this purchase. Your purchased sound package will be at your fingertips. No additional purchase is necessary.

How Audio Collections Work In BirdsEye

Purchasing an audio collection gives you access to a large library of bird sounds, all within BirdsEye. It also gives you access to the BirdsEye images and text, as well as the eBird data available for the species that are included in the package.

You can download a collection to your mobile device for offline use and remove it to free up space as often as you wish. You can access this package on your Apple or Android mobile device, so long as they are all registered to your BirdsEye account.

To download all of the sounds for offline use, just go to “Settings” and then choose “Download for Offline”. Enjoy!

How to Purchase one of the Audio Collections

There are two ways:

1) Purchase an audio collection as an in-app purchase within BirdsEye

From the BirdsEye home screen, choose the “Memberships and Audio Guides” (Apple) or “Store – Field Guides and Audio” (Android) option. Scroll to the audio collection for the region you are interested in, select it and follow the prompts to purchase through your iTunes or Google Play accounts.

2) Purchase an audio collection from our website BirdsEyeBirding.com

You can also purchase audio collections at a discount from our website: choose the BirdsEye Bird Guide option form the main menu and then select “Audio Collections” from the menu.  Next, choose the collection you would like to purchase. After selecting the audio collection, there is a dialog box labeled “How would you like to download and access this sound collection?”. You can choose to access the sound files “through BirdsEye on your phone”, or “As an MP3 download (also includes access through BirdsEye app). The second option includes the audio collection in an mp3 format as well as the BirdsEye extension. This option is for users who want to use sound files with third party sound management applications that can be played on a PC or mobile device outside of BirdsEye.

How to Access an Audio Collection

Once you have purchased a audio collection on the site, here is how to access it on your device:

1) If you don’t already have BirdsEye, download it to your mobile device (for free) from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
2) Register or login to BirdsEye using the same email address you used for your purchase and your sound collections will be immediately available within BirdsEye, just tap the speaker icon for any of the listed species.
3) You can download the sound collection for offline use, or access it via the internet as you need it to save space. It’s up to you. You can clear the sounds from your device and download as many times as you want.

Just contact the BirdsEye Help Desk if you have any questions or trouble getting set up. We are happy to help!

Remember, you can focus in on just the birds in a specific sound package or membership group. In the Search by Name section, select the “funnel” icon in the upper right, scroll to the “Bird Sounds of Mexico” or whatever the region, and tap it. That should put you back on the “Search” page with just those birds listed.

Birds and Smiles with Binoculars in the Amazon

(Part of our mission at BirdsEye is to support grass-roots, conservation efforts like the Amazon Binocular Project)

by Phil Kahler (Tualatin Valley Academy)

BirdsEye is a proud supporter of the Amazon Binocular ProjectIt is a beautiful July morning under the warmth of the equatorial sun when I find myself following a group of happy and enthusiastic children along a foot path through the village, across a log that bridges a muddy creek to the edge of the rainforest.  Tugging on my arm, Segundo stops me and points up into a nearby tree.  Segundo, a young Maijuna boy around 11-12 years old has spotted a Black-fronted Nunbird and doesn’t want me to miss seeing it.  Both of us focus in on the bird with our binoculars for a fantastic look.  Quietly, with smiles and hand gestures we communicate our shared joy of discovery since neither of us speak a common language.  Segundo is just one of around twenty-four Maijuna children, who for the first time in their lives are using binoculars for a close-up view of birds near their village.  Our group is led by local birding expert, Percy Reyna and several educators from the United States who use the BirdSleuth curriculum developed by Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  Together we spend a joyful hour learning to focus binoculars and chasing after birds.

It is children just like Segundo that motivated us to create the Amazon Binocular Project.  We want to inspire and support the next generation of Amazon birding guides.  Our aim is to develop within these youngsters an interest and love for the rich rainforest biodiversity by giving them access to the tools that will help them better observe and enjoy nature.  Segundo and his friends are in an especially exciting and unique position because they are being raised in one of the Maijuna villages responsible for creating the Maijuna-Kichwa Regional Conservation Area, a huge 977,600-acre wildlife preserve in northern Peru.  These children will eventually inherit the responsibility of managing, protecting, and educating others about this global treasure.

The Amazon Binocular Project grew from the inspiration of Lucio Pando, a gifted Amazon bird guide who loved to work with children.  When Lucio unexpectedly passed away last fall we were determined to carry on his legacy of inspiring young minds in the Amazon.  Percy Reyna and Cesar Sevillano, Lucio’s colleagues enthusiastically stepped up to work with the school children in remote Amazon villages.  Both Percy and Cesar traveled to Cornell Lab of Ornithology in 2016 for training in the BirdSleuth program and are uniquely qualified to continue the work begun by Lucio.

The Amazon Binocular Project webpage became live last November and we began to receive donations of new and used binoculars.  During the school year my 7th and 8th grade students in Oregon helped clean, repair, and pack the binocular donations for transport to the Amazon.  In April an exciting win-win opportunity developed when we learned Amanda Chang’s students in Chicago were planning a trip to the Amazon, but many could not afford their own binoculars.  So, we shipped half of the binoculars to her students to transport, use, and then hand off to Percy and Cesar.  The rest of the binoculars were shipped to Sarah Goodman’s students in North Carolina who volunteered to deliver them during their trip to the Amazon.

Teacher participants in the Educator Academy in the Amazon Rainforest brought additional binoculars and a spotting scope.  In all, a total of twenty-eight pairs of binoculars and one spotting scope completed the optics collection entrusted to the bird guides during the summer of 2017.  We are excited about the binoculars we put into the hands of Amazon children during our first year and are grateful for the generosity and collaborative teamwork of so many people.  We especially want to thank Celestron who helped us find some gently used binoculars to add to the 2017 collection and BirdsEye Nature Apps who helped spread the word about The Amazon Binocular Project.


The author with a student.

Although Percy and Cesar now have a traveling classroom set of binoculars to use with children, the need for more binoculars is still great.  The teacher at the Maijuna village school expressed a strong desire to have binoculars become a permanent part of his bird watching curriculum.  As Percy and Cesar spread enthusiasm for bird watching throughout Amazon village communities we expect demand for binoculars to increase among local educators.  We are thrilled to support these teachers as they encourage young birders like Segundo.

If you have new or used binoculars, spotting scope, tripod, lens caps, or straps to spare, please send them to the Amazon Binocular Project.  See our webpage for details at http://amazonworkshops.com/amazon-binocular-project/.

The Effects of Light Pollution on Urban Birds

Tis the season for bird migrations in the Northern Hemisphere. You might see more northern birds flying through your neighborhoods and less of your regular local aviary. This is a perfect time to look into bird-finding tips, utilize your Smart Search on Birdseye so you can better identify these new-to-you species, and explore their migrating patterns.

However, each year the migration of birds is hindered by our growing metropolitan areas. Not only is habitat loss a serious issue to the health and nesting of birds, but light pollution is also becoming an issue. Light pollution is defined as the artificial light produced in cities and houses that brighten the dark night to the point of drowning out the stars, throwing off our human circadian rhythm (the mental clock that helps us sleep), and throwing off the migratory pattern of birds.

Most birds migrate during the evening, when the stars can help guide their path. However, as one study discovered, bright lights due to urban light pollution during the nighttime can cause migrating birds to circle and investigate the lit areas, spending more energy without making progress on their journey. This can be damaging to birds that are already expending energy while traveling hundreds of miles every night. Birds were also more likely to collide with light structures, according to the study, and selectively removing light pollution in some cities helped alleviate many of the issues for these migrating species.

However, the strange calling and circling phenomenon was apparent during a September 11th memorial service this year, Tribute in Light: where beams of light were projected into the sky to mimic the Twin Towers of the International Trade Center. These beams of light attracted the birds and, as one researcher noted: “This was a rare opportunity to witness the impact of powerful ground-based lights on nocturnally migrating birds.”

A large group of volunteers was able to record the bird calls, count the number of species present, and utilize technology to better understand the density and movements of the birds present in the area. According to the results of this observed phenomenon:

“…densities of birds over lower Manhattan could reach 60 to 150 times the number that would typically be found in the area at that time. The concentrating effects of the intense light on the birds reached as high as 4 kilometers (2.5 miles). The impact on birds was consistent even on clear nights. (Many previous artificial-light studies focused on nights with poor visibility.) When the light beams were turned off, the birds dispersed within minutes to continue their migrations.”

Unfortunately, these sorts of events aren’t isolated to special spotlights in urban areas. Even in rural towns, bright lights can distract and harm migrating bird species. As our cities and suburban areas expand, the negative impact we have on local species continues to grow.

Luckily, there are some things we can do to help offset some of those negative impacts. It can be as simple as a light switch. Start by turning off any exterior lights on your house, and you can help birds in your area move on with their migrations. Additionally, working alongside your city and local organizations to help create “blackout times” can make your entire neighborhood more nocturnal and bird friendly. This is also known as creating a dark-sky destination for your town.

Making a city into a dark-sky destination can be as simple as utilizing trees to block out neighborhood lights, or placing street lamps with light shields at only important intersections. Two towns in Colorado, the Westcliffe and Silver Cliff neighborhoods, were able to do just that and are now actively fighting against light pollution while saving energy.

Around the globe, urban areas are springing up and growing at a rapid rate. Electricity has becoming a necessity for almost everyone, and light pollution is becoming a real hazard for the environment. In areas where light and electricity are limited or forbidden — such as in the towns in Colorado or even animal sanctuaries like the Galapagos or the Peruvian rainforests — nocturnal animals and migrating birds are able to thrive. If you want to do your part in helping migrating birds this season, simply turn out the lights!

About the author:

Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.

Birds of Peru

Mobile Field Guide to the Birds of Peru

One of the great guides to South America…
… on your iPhone or iPad for $34.99.

Birds of Peru icon

With a spectacular diversity of landscapes, elevations and habitats, the nation of Peru is extremely rich in history, culture, and, of course, birds! Home to over 1800 species of birds, Peru has some of the birdiest places on earth and attracts birders and nature enthusiasts from around the globe.

Peru’s overwhelming diversity of birds has never been easier to navigate with the new Birds of Peru mobile field guide. Created from a collaboration between the Princeton Field Guides and BirdsEye Nature Apps, this application is loaded with in-depth descriptions and easy to use interactive features, including:

  • Detailed species accounts for all of Peru’s +1800 bird species
  • Range maps showing  species distribution in Peru.
  • Songs and/or calls for 1510 species
  • Gorgeous illustrations for every species, many with multiple plumages or geographic variation
  • Interactive Smart Search tool helps narrow down birds by region, color, size and/or habitat
  • Integrated listing to easily track your sightings as you go

The brilliance of Peru’s birds has been an integral part of the nation’s history, and plays an important part in the nation’s cultures and peoples of today. Birds of Peru is an important and must-have tool for all birders and travelers in Peru, and is also useful in Colombia, Ecuador, the Brazilian Amazon, and Bolivia.

The initial release of Birds of Peru will be for the iPhone/iPad/iPod.  We hope to introduce an Android version of the app in the future. Please let us know if you are interested in an Android version and we can add you to our mailing list for status and updates.

Binoculars in the Amazon

By Phil Kahler

AmazonBirders3Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Educator Academy in the Amazon Rainforest have been working with local bird guides and Peruvian teachers to bring the BirdSleuth-International  curriculum into remote schools along the Amazon River.  Lucio Pando, one of several extraordinary guides in the area, enthusiastically shares his knowledge and love of birds with adults and children alike.  He admits to watching birds even during his off time at home, he just can’t help himself.  Like many of us who are addicted to watching birds, Lucio’s binoculars are a permanent fixture around his neck.  While talking with Lucio I learned he does not have adequate access to binoculars and field guides needed for teaching students in local villages.  So last spring I was overjoyed when one of my former students donated several pairs of gently used binoculars.

OAmazonBirders1n July 8, 2015 twenty Peruvian teachers arrived at the Amazon Library in small motorized boats to attend a BirdSleuth workshop presented by Lilly Briggs from Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  The Amazon Library is run by CONAPAC, a Peruvian non-profit organization that leads conservation and sustainable development projects in the Amazon.  During this workshop Lilly, Lucio and I took these teachers on a short bird walk along the bank of the Amazon River.  The teachers were all smiles and filled with excitement as they took turns looking for birds.  Having never used binoculars before, they got great looks at some most cooperative birds.  As the teachers listened to Lucio share his extensive knowledge they wanted to know how he became such an expert.  For Lucio it was a deeply meaningful opportunity to inspire fellow countrymen and women to take a closer look at the incredible bird diversity found all around them.  After the workshop I handed the binoculars off to a very grateful Lucio, who is now using the binoculars with the teachers and their students.

AmazonBirders2We want to support Lucio and his colleagues in their important work training up the next generation of Peruvian naturalists and bird guides.  Your donation of gently used waterproof optics will greatly help Lucio’s efforts.  So if you have an extra pair of binoculars please consider saving them for this project.  Watch for more information and shipping instructions coming this fall in the BirdsEye newsletter.  Teacher participants in the 2017 Educator Academy in the Amazon Rainforest will personally deliver your binocular donation to Lucio and the teachers he works with along the Peruvian Amazon.

CA Rattlesnake App

App for California Rattlesnakes

Red Diamond Rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber)Warm temperatures have returned to California, causing the native snakes to become active and many outdoor enthusiasts will encounter snakes during their outings. One key to safely coexisting with California snakes is to be able to reliably distinguish a rattlesnake from the many harmless snakes of the region. There is now a field guide app for California rattlesnakes available for Apple and Android devices that covers the rattlesnakes of California (and Oregon, Washingon, and Nevada). This 99-cent app is optimized for smart phones to provide a portable guide for the field. It does not require Internet connectivity, but additional features are available with an Internet connection. This smart phone app provides the following information for these iconic creatures:

  • How to distinguish a rattlesnake from other snakes (even if you cannot see or hear the rattle)
  • How to identify the rattlesnake species and subspecies of the state
  • Other tips on how to safely coexist with an encountered rattlesnake
  • Field guide information including range maps
  • Field first aid information in the event of a bite
  • Search feature to assist with identification
  • Technical terms that link to the glossary to provide definitions
  • Favorites feature to track a life or trip list, or a list of targets
  • Many great photos of each species and subspecies

Rattlesnakes are an important and fascinating part of California’s wildlife. For those that work or play outdoors in the Golden State, this inexpensive app could literally save your life. The text was written and the images were compiled by Todd Battey. Programming for the app was provided by Donald Becker.

Front End Web Developer

Front End Web Developer

Birds in the Hand, work location flexible

About Birds in the Hand

Birds in the Hand is a leader in the nature app space for iOS and Android platforms. Our app portfolio includes BirdsEye, BirdLog (now eBird Mobile), Merlin Bird ID, Daily Bird, and BirdsEye Hotspots.  We are a small, dedicated group of scientists and naturalists passionate about technologies that support citizen science. We are expanding into new citizen science projects that will require additional apps, and building out websites to capture and communicate data for these projects.  We looking for a part-time web developer who can create a great site from scratch and is also passionate about citizen science. The work location and hours are quite flexible.

Skills Required:

  • Strong WordPress, PHP, SQL development skills
  • Experience working with/building custom databases
  • Strong analytical and problem solving skills
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to interact and communicate professionally with all levels of staff and management
  • Able to work independently in an efficient manner


  • Develop new websites that allow users to report sightings for different flora and fauna through the use of maps and manual entry of location information.
  • Capture information in existing and to-be-developed databases.
  • Provide user friendly, robust, and visually appealing front ends using WordPress and other CMS
  • Perform maintenance and implement new features for the various websites
  • Work with our team to identify problems and correct issues
  • Create time estimates for projects assigned to you
  • Implement and document features that support both basic and power users
  • Work independently and with little supervision. Some interactions with other development, marketing and operations team members
  • Develop and optimize front-end UI functionality to ensure web applications are rendered consistently and efficiently in cross-browser environment
  • Follow industry trends with regard to front-end technologies and techniques


  • 2 more years of front-end programming with a proven track record of building and maintaining complex javascript front-ends.
  • Experience building excellent, consumer web application interfaces
  • Expert Javascript/HTML5/CSS3/AJAX coding skills
  • Strong command of web standards, CSS-based design, cross-browser compatibility
  • A passion for good documentation and code standards
  • Quick learner with a drive to learn more
  • Great organizational skills, and an attention to detail, consistency, and simplicity
  • Logical team-player, with excellent communication skills and ability to work effectively on multiple projects under a tight schedule
  • Strong understanding and experience using WordPress and other content management systems.
  • Strong understanding of SQL including the MySQL and MS SQL flavors
  • Experience with PHP a plus
  • Love and interest of nature a plus and probably required in order to be happy with the relative low pay of the position.

Desired Qualities:

  • Experience with libraries (such as jQuery or Prototype)
  • Experience with CSS frameworks (such as LESS or Sass)

This is a part time position at a relatively low wage that will provide immense satisfaction and great flexibility.  There are no medical/dental benefits, PTO, 401k or paid holidays.

Birds in the Hand is an equal opportunity employer.

To Apply:

Please send resume and cover letter to support@birdsinthehand.com

Coming Soon: OdeLog – The Dragonfly & Damselfly Checklist App

Mobile logging of your dragonfly and damselfly sightings!

The Dragonfly ID App is off to a good start thanks to many generous donations and support from OdonataCentral, the Xerces Society, the Dragonfly Society of America. Many of you have emailed us to ask for an update. Our partnership with OdonataCentral continues!  The OdonataCentral Mobile App, or OdeLog for short, will allow you to record checklists of odes you observe in the field.

Banded Pennant

Banded Pennant by Michael Moore

The goal of this project is simple: hundreds if not thousands of people keep extensive records of the odes they observe in notebooks, Excel spreadsheets or homemade databases. Unfortunately, only a tiny fraction of these potentially important observations make there way into a common database that can be used for citizen science – iNaturalist, Odonata Central, the MDP database or into print. Our goal is to make this valuable information available to the public – hobbyists, enthusiasts, and scientists.

As early supporters of eBird, we believe that it is an excellent model of how to set up a citizen science project. Not only is eBird fun and easy to use, perhaps most importantly, the data are useful to scientists for large-scale population monitoring of population, seasonality and distribution.

To accomplish our goal of building the “eBird for Odes”, we will follow these guiding principles:


Flame Skimmer by Jeff Harding

  1. All the observations will go into OdonataCentral/MDP.We don’t believe it makes sense to create another separate citizen science database. Instead we would prefer to see our efforts go towards improving an already excellent database. Note that OdonataCentral and the MIgratory Dragonfly Partnership share an underlying database.
  2. Our goal is to maintain three types of data. One type will be the Odonata Central records that have passed their careful vetting process. These will mostly consist of rare sightings or difficult to identify species. Second will be publicly shared data that can be accessed by all users that go through a less rigorous automatic vetting process (under development) and will consist of more common species. Finally all your personal records will be maintained in the database regardless of their vetting status so you can always access your own data and maintain your own lists. You will be able to filter the data to only see the data type you want.
  3. Users will be encouraged to enter complete checklists of the odes observed in a specified time and location, including counts.Our goal is not only to focus on recording sightings of rare species but to also encourage sightings of common species, because this information is the most valuable in understanding the long term trends for the health of ode populations and their habitats.
  4. Checklists should be associated with an observation protocolThe observation protocol indicates the type and level of effort that went into recording the sightings. Protocol encompasses things like distance traveled, time spent, area surveyed, etc.
  5. Users should be encouraged and enabled to identify dragonflies to the best of their ability, but not beyond.We will provide the option to report things like: “Northern/Boreal Bluet”, “Bluet sp.”, Libellula sp. or even just “Dragonfly sp.” If users aren’t sure, we don’t’ want to force them to guess.Users should be encouraged and able to report odes in all of their life stages.

You can help make this happen! This project is not expected to earn money. Everyone involved in thisdonate now button project is doing it out of a sense of just how valuable (and awesomely fun!) it would be to have this tool available for ourselves and other nature lovers. If you are interested in helping as a tester, as a user, as a contributor of text or photos, or financially please get in touch!  Click the “donate now” button or email us at support@getbirdseye.com

More details: Our goal is to make this simple first step available this summer, and we hope it will be before the peak of the dragonfly & damselfly season in most of the US and Canada. Here is a very rough outline:

  • Odonoata_Central_logoIt will connect with the OdonataCentral / Migratory Dragonfly Partnership database. Submissions will be tied to OdonataCentral user accounts. New users will need to set up OC accounts to submit sightings.
  • Currently we don’t have funding for several critical features including the interface to submit of photos from the app
  • The app will be based on BirdLog (on both Android and iOS). We plan to roll out iOS first and then Android. Note: Last year, when we transferred BirdLog to Cornell it was arguably the most successful nature-related citizen science app in the world!
  • Clearly the data will be of a different type than the 100% vouchered data currently in OC and in that sense will be more like MDP data. We do not want to (pick your favorite pejorative) “dilute” that data with unvetted submissions . On the other hand, we do believe that this new data will be valuable and should be available through the OC website. So we will find ways to allow users to view just traditional OC data, this new OC data or both together.
  • Migratory_Dragonfly_partershipInitially it will only be possible to submit data through the Dragonfly Checklist app, but we plan to build out the portions of the OC website that will allow OC users to submit observations online as well. There will be many significant limitations to the system when it is first rolled out as you might expect for any new system.