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

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

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.

Educators Take BirdsEye to the Amazon

BirdsEye users in the Amazon

Educators in the Amazon


Phil Kahler 
Tualatin Valley Academy 
Science Department 
21975 SW Baseline Road 
Hillsboro, OR 97123

In a collaborative effort BirdsEye, BirdSleuth (K-12 educational outreach of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology), and the Educator Academy in the Amazon Rainforest worked to put the BirdsEye bird finding app into the hands of thirty K-12 educators who participated in a ten day workshop exploring the Amazon Rainforest in Peru this past July. During a pre-trip webinar participants were encouraged to install the app on their phones and instructed to download content for offline use in the field. Giving educators the tools and training they need to become effective citizen scientists is an important goal of both BirdSleuth and the Educator Academy.

Each morning teachers were loaded onto small boats with local guides and teaching staff for an hour of intense rapid fire birding. It is a bit overwhelming keeping an accurate list of bird sightings when 2-3 species are being pointed out on opposite sides of the boat simultaneously. Data collection had to become a group effort, so teachers got together at the end of each day to create master lists. We were careful not to leave any of our new birders behind and gave them plenty of encouragement and helpful tips. The Bird Sounds of Peru was also a hit when we got a Common Potoo and a Spectacled Owl to answer!  The sound recordings also helped us narrow down a few tricky ID’s.  Several of the teachers used BirdLog SA or the eBird app to upload checklists to their eBird accounts. Overall our teacher group reported 221 species to eBird during our workshop.

Kirsten Franklin, one of the teacher participants now says, “I have been taking bird counts with eBird at my house 2-3 times a week. I have used BirdsEye to help me identify some of the birds by looking at the lists and photos of what other people in my area have posted. It’s been very enjoyable and now I am frustrated by the realization that there are a lot of birds that I really don’t know yet. But I will keep plugging away!”

If you are an educator who would like to participate in future trips please visit Educator Academy in the Amazon Rainforest at BirdSleuth is planning a special birding trip for educators in 2017. For more information visit

Smart Search for Android

Smart Search now in BirdsEye for Android

Focus in on Color, Size, and Habitat

With the latest BirdsEye update for Android, ver. 1.2, we’re happy to tell you of a new feature called Smart Search. Smart Search is a collection of intelligent filters that allow you to choose color, size, and habitat to narrow down the possible species.

Whether you’re looking for dragonflies or birds, BirdsEye Nature Apps are the best apps to learn what’s being seen nearby. BirdsEye is great in helping you identify what you are actually seeing.  Smart Search goes a step further to help you focus on likely birds as soon as you start entering information –   the list is filtered as enter information and sorts the species how well they match the criteria.

So, welcome to Smart Search…we think you’ll really like it.  We find it especially helpful when away from our home turf, and it’s really helpful for the budding birder or orniphile.

You can access Smart Search from the main menu, or under Nearby Birds or when searching a specific location.  Just look for the icon that looks like a magnifying glass with a ‘plus’ sign.

Smart Search is now available in both Android and iOS versions of BirdsEye.

Traveling? No matter where you are in the world, Smart Search will help you get more out of your birding. A couple quick taps combined with BirdsEye’s knowledge of the species in your area will let you spend more time enjoying the birds, and less time looking at the screen.

Birding a new area? You’ll appreciate the ability of Smart Search to sort the local species by abundance to narrow your options to the most likely species in the area.

New to birding? Smart Search is easy to use and a great way to narrow down the list of possibilites to just the species birds that match the one you are looking at.



Help us with the Dragonfly ID app!

The new Dragonfly ID app is a collaborative effort made possible through contributions of time, effort and money from hundreds of people. A project like this is by its nature a work in progress. Our immediate goal is to be able to provide users with high quality text and at least one good photo for every species in North America.


Would you be willing to contribute text for a common species in your area? Or maybe a photo of a missing species? Thanks to John Abbott who has generously offered to review and edit contributed text. Let’s keep him busy!

Description and ID text

Species text should be a minimum of a couple of paragraphs. There is really no upper limit to how much text the app can handle, but in general we should try to keep it brief enough that users in the field can quickly find the information they need.

Our goal is to have text for every species of around 50-200 words for each of the following sections:

Description: include a description of each of the field-identifiable adult forms
Identification: include a description of differentiating this species from similar species
Habitat: especially information that will help a user in the field find this species
Natural History:
(Optional) Seasonality and Distribution
(If applicable) Taxonomic or Nomenclatural notes

A great place to start is by reviewing Odonata Central’s “Identification pages” such as this one for Vivid Dancer. Note that the text on the Odonata Central “Identification pages” were originally targeted to the southwestern US, and so sections such as comparison species and range descriptions are not adequate for an app targeting all of North America.

It would be great to get some text contributions in French and Spanish as well. Or, if you are interested in helping with translating into these languages, please get in touch.

Of course, we would credit you in the app and anytime your text was used. The credits will look something like this (Note that this example is made up!)

Contributed: Dan Tallman Aug 30, 2015
Expanded: John Garrett Aug 31, 2015
Edited: John C. Abbott Sept 5, 2015
Revised and expanded: John C. Abbott Sept 30, 2015

So, if you’re interested head to dragonfly text submission form where you can find instructions to submit the text. If you have friends or colleague who might be interested please share this information with them and encourage them to get in touch with us. Everyone who contributes text for at least one species will also be eligible (if they wish) to participate in beta testing.

Thanks in advance,

The Dragonfly ID team


BirdsEye Bird Finding Guide 2.3

What’s New in Version 2.3

We’ve spent a long time working on BirdsEye behind the scenes to make it run faster, smooth, and offer better tools for world and local birders. Some of the more exciting features are listed below.

BirdsEye Smart Search

Find New Birds


Use color, size and habitat to quickly narrow down the list of nearby sightings to find what you are looking for. Just stepped off the plane in Sydney, Australia and want to know what that blue and white swallow hawking insects around you is? A couple taps and you’ll know that you are looking at a Welcome Swallow!

Smart Search is targeted to the traveling birder and new birders, helping you quickly learn the birds wherever you are in the world.

Not happy with one of the Smart Search results? Just swipe left over the entry and click the Feedback button to let us know! We’ll keep improving the data behind the scenes to make it all work perfectly.


BirdsEye xeno canto viewExpanded Sound Library


A link to this amazing resource of bird calls and songs is now available in BirdsEye.  Tap the link icon on any bird description or map screen to get a direct link to xeno-canto recordings for that species!

As in earlier versions of BirdsEye, you also have links to see bird pictures in Flickr and to additional information on species in Wikipedia.

No Internet Required


Offline content like images and sounds are now more robust, so it is less likely to be deleted by your phone if you are running low on storage. We want to make sure you can always access the data you need no matter where you are!

Tools for Trip Planning


You can now select any month, or group of months, to filter sightings when checking out Hotspots or a spot in your Favorites. We love this feature for planning trip – create a group of Favorites along your route and choose the month you’re travelling – all of the species reported in the last 5+ years for those months and location will be shown along with their abundance for the locations. Plan ahead to get the most out of your birding!


  • lots of bug fixes, tweaks, and improvements for improved performance and stability
  • updated icons and images across the app

Enjoying the update? Reviews and ratings get reset for each release. If you are feeling generous, please leave a review. Thanks in advance!

We love hearing from you! Have a question, concern, or suggestion? Get in touch with support at, view our FAQ at, @birdseyebirding on Twitter, and

August updates to photo site

In mid-August we released an update to the website where we curate the images that appear in the various BirdsEye apps. These updates were targeted towards making it easier to see what is available in the apps, and supporting photo submissions for Dragonflies, Butterflies, and Bumble bees. As you can see in the gallery below, each category of species now has its own homepage if you are interested in just seeing submissions and photos from that category. When you submit your photos for dragonflies, you’ll now get a list of variants that make sense for that category, such as adult male, female (male-like), teneral, and more.

A mobile icon is now superimposed in the bottom left corner of any photos that appear in the apps. You can curate the best photos to feature in the apps by clicking on “Suggest Changes” under a photo and suggesting that a photo be included or excluded from mobile apps. Our goal is to include several high quality images for each class of a species (adult male, male in non-breeding plumage, female, teneral, immature, etc.) in the app, and you can help us get there!


Another improvement is that your photographer page now lists how many of your photos appear in the app, as well as how many photos you have in each of the categories (birds, dragonflies, butterflies and bumble bees). Another great way to track what you have been photographing!

View which photos of yours appear in the apps, and how many photos of each category you've submitted.

View which photos of yours appear in the apps, and how many photos of each category you’ve submitted.


Rare Bird Alerts come to Android!

Finding rare birds in your area is one of the most exciting aspects of birding. Now, with the BirdsEye Rare Bird Alerts, you can have your own portal to notable birds being seen nearby (anywhere in the world) as well as the rarest birds being reported across North America. If the update hasn’t automatically downloaded to your device yet, it should be available for you to download in the next couple days.

Rare Bird Alerts shows you notable birds being seen nearby (up to 250 miles away from your current location if you are a member). These sightings are flagged by eBird as out of range, or out of season. Each alert also has a direct link to the eBird checklist to see comments and photos that the observer included in the checklist. 

Additionally with a membership, BirdsEye provides all the true rarities being seen through out the ABA region*. This includes recent species like Sinaloa Wren in Arizona, Slaty-backed Gull in Washington, and Common Snipe in Newfoundland.

There are still a few differences between the Android and iPhone versions of BirdsEye. We’re trying really hard to make sure the same great features are in both versions. We’ve made a major step in that direction with the addition of the Rare Bird Alerts. Look for more to come.

*The ABA (American Birding Association) area covers most of North America north of Mexico. The BirdsEye ABA Rare feature includes species with ABA codes 3, 4 and 5.


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