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Tips To Complete A Successful Big Year

Birders take part in a bird walk led by the Fort Indiantown Gap (PA) wildlife staff, May 27, 2015.

The beginning of a new year brings hope, the setting of resolutions—and a fresh opportunity to complete a Big Year. A Big Year, in birding parlance, can be either a formal or an informal challenge among birders to identify as many species as possible in a single calendar year. According to the American Birding Association, a Big Year officially begins at 12:00 AM on January 1st and ends at 11:59 PM on December 31st of that same year, based on the local time of the location of the birder at each time threshold.

Many people complete a Big Year for the fun and challenge. Others participate more formally in events hosted by local birding organizations. The Audubon Society of Greater Denver (Colorado), for example, is hosting a Big Year competition in 2019 to celebrate their 50th anniversary. The event challenges local birders to spot as many birds as they can in their local county and also provides field trips and support for beginning birders. Many birders track their progress on eBird, which also serves as an unofficial leaderboard for national Big Year participants. (Our BirdsEye app can be synced to eBird accounts to help you achieve your goals.)

To kick off 2019, we interviewed three birders who have recently completed a Big Year. These birders offer their tips and advice for successfully completing a Big Year in 2019. Our birders include:

  • Tom Ford-Hutchinson (TFH), who accomplished a Big Year in 2013 in Orange County, California.
  • Betty Glass (BG), who is running and promoting the Denver Audubon Big Year competition across six counties in Colorado.
  • Aija Konrad (AK), who completed a Big Year in the lower 48 states in 2018 and spotted an astounding 577 species! You can view some of her husband Ed’s photos of her Big Year on Flickr.

Aija Konrad chasing her Big Year along the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Washington.

Why should somebody try to complete a Big Year?

BG: If you can keep at it and commit for the full year, you will learn so much about birds, conservation, habitat, other species (mammals, insects, etc.), and ecology. You will become a more involved and aware person.

AK: Doing a Big Year was so rewarding and exciting! We never expected to get to 500 species and finished the year on New Year’s Eve in Portland, Maine, looking for a Great Black Hawk. We saw a lot of the country and visited 36 states and 35 national parks and wildlife refuges.

TFH: That’s the million dollar question, and I feel like most people who have done one would say you shouldn’t, haha. There’s no prize or plaque at the end of it, so if you’re going do it, do it for yourself or use it to promote something you care about.

What kind of time commitment is required for a successful Big Year?

TFH: A big year is whatever you want to make of it and can be whatever sort of time commitment you want to make it. Proper planning and local knowledge can significantly decrease the amount of time you spend on it. In the end, I missed a bird because I went to Coachella for a weekend, and I was still working full-time. So you make it what it is. If you aren’t enjoying it, what’s the point?

BG: If you want to win, you’ll be out birding every day. If you’re going to participate and learn more about birds in your area, you can go out two to three times a week, and you’ll be successful. You can also just watch your backyard every day.

AK: It takes commitment, serious drive, and lots of time to do a national Big Year! And you have to be a little bit crazy. We ended up taking 10 major trips, drove 30,000 miles, flew many more, were away from home for 110 days.

What essentials do birders need to have a successful Big Year?

AK: Once we made the commitment, we looked up festivals and birding trips around the country. Ebird was our biggest source for what to go after. We would often recreate itineraries of tour companies. It also helps to have a partner—I could not have done it without my husband, who was as committed as I was. When we traveled, we would almost always bird from dawn to dusk. That was essential for making the most of our time. It was exhausting but exhilarating.

BG: First of all, think about the birds you are likely to see nearby, find places in your county that you can find them, and research when they are likely to arrive in the area. The other part is to be aware of when new species come to the state and know where you can find rare species. The Denver Audubon Society is putting together resources that discuss 50 birds you can see without binoculars, 50 sights you might want to check out in the region, and 50 things you can do to make Denver more bird-friendly. Resources like these can help you plan your year.

TFH: Equipment-wise, a good pair of binoculars goes a long way, as does some sort of digital camera to document your sightings. A good spotting scope (or a friend with one) can also be critical to find seabirds or shorebirds. The number one thing that birders to need to succeed in a Big Year, however, is an understanding of the status and distribution of species. This couldn’t be easier now with all the data available on eBird. Birding apps (like BirdsEye) can help someone discover what birds to look for during a specific week of the year based on previous records and/or bird sightings in surrounding counties. They can help you be in the right habitat to find them when they show up in your area. Also, being aware of the weather can also help you predict where and when to be somewhere. Lastly, the saying that the early bird gets the worm really is true—birds are most active from right before dawn to an hour after the sun rises. This is by far the easiest time to find most rarities as they search for food.

What kinds of things to birders need to plan in preparation for a big year (timing, location, etc.)?

TFH: Stakeout and find winter rarities early. Plan on May/June for Spring Migration, Late July/August for shorebirds, Late August/Sep/Oct for Fall migration, and December for anything that is found on the Christmas Bird Counts.

BG: Right now (winter), get all the waterfowl. All the ducks are out and in breeding plumage and are easy to see. Get ready for spring migration, which starts the end of April and goes through the beginning of June (in Colorado). Summer is really great for breeding birds in Colorado because you see them in their nest, and see juveniles. Fall is the reverse migration—it is exciting because you see Alaskan birds in Denver sometimes. Participate in a Christmas Bird Count toward the end of the year.

Plan carefully to capture hard-to-find birds, like the Greater Prairie Chicken. Photographed by Ed Konrad in Nebraska.

From your experience, what were some unexpected challenges during your Big Year?

AK: One unexpected challenge we faced was when we were driving to Florida for the American Flamingo in November. I was driving on a rural road in Georgia, and a large log flew off of an oncoming truck and hit my windshield. It was horrifying…I had 30 surface cuts to my face and was taken by ambulance to a hospital, but thankfully released after treatment. Our car was totaled from the glass damage. But I got right back out there and 2 days went back for the bird and got it!

BG: You can get tired by the end of the year, but remember that you’ll complete it just by definition unless something drastic happens. Even with illness and injury, you can keep it going. It’s easier to do a Big Year when it’s local because you’re not killing yourself doing field trips, camping, traveling long distances.

TFH: My first challenge was sleeping through the January pelagic trip and missing a couple of birds that wouldn’t show up again for the remainder of the year. A couple of stakeouts were particularly boring. It can also be challenging when you’re hiking through the full summer heat looking for a yellow-billed cuckoo or sitting on a distant island waiting for Lucy’s warbler to show up.

Any other words of advice?

TFH: Birders are inherently helpful and friendly. Many people like to live vicariously through others’ Big Year journeys and are more than happy to help out. Use this to your advantage to help promote and advance birding. Document your journey on eBird, share your experiences through the local birding listserves (http://birding.aba.org/), or better yet, create a blog and share your own story through blog posts. And remember to pay it forward yourself after it’s all over.

BG: One of the things I want to stress is that this is a friendly endeavor. If you find something spectacular, text other people and let them know. Be friendly, be helpful, and don’t be too competitive. Encourage others to participate.

Use BirdsEye.Photo To Up Your Photography Game

BirdsEye’s free photography website is a comprehensive library of photos submitted by a nature-enthusiast collective from across the globe. Thanks to users like you, we have amassed one of the most complete and high-quality photo collections of birds, odes, butterflies, and more!

If you aren’t already using BirdsEye.photo, here are some of the benefits of becoming a contributor:

  1. Get a free membership! For every 20 photo submissions, we will provide users with a free, one-year, BirdsEye membership of their choice. Want a second year? Great! Simply submit another 20 photos! Or, if you’d prefer, use those 20 additional photo submissions to get a different regional membership!  You could choose from any of our BirdsEye memberships.
  2. Keep track of your photo life list. BirdsEye.photo is a great way to keep track of the birds, odes, and butterflies you’ve seen and photographed. Plus, you’ll be able to easily sort through these photos taxonomically, alphabetically, or by submission date. 
  3. Share your photos and get credit. If you’re anything like us, your photos amass, unseen by the public, on your computer. Here’s a way dust off those digital photo folders and share them with one of the largest birding and nature communities on the planet! The photo site allows other users to browse, rate, and help identify the birds in your photos. Plus, your photos will be eligible for use in our newsletters, on our website, and in our Apps! (With due credit given, of course.)
  4. Educate the masses. While your photos are out there earning you credited recognition, they are also helping to educate other nature enthusiasts as they explore the world around them. The BirdsEye Finding Guide app, Dragonfly ID app, and Bumble Bee Watch app all use user-submitted photos to help nature enthusiasts identify species in the field. Meanwhile, our Daily Bird app displays user-submitted photos every day, helping birders to refine their bird identification skills.
  5. Help us make some of the highest quality apps.  Users can rate photos based on how well the bird is displayed in the photo. We want photos of animals as they appear in the field to help users identify what they’re seeing in the field. For that reason, we need to make sure our apps’ photos do just that! Can you see the bird clearly? Are important field marks present? User ratings help us determine the best photos to include in our nature apps. And, if you think a photo has been misidentified, let us know! We strongly rely on our users to help us ensure the accuracy of our apps’ photo collections.

    Dragonfly ID, BirdsEye Finding Guide, and Daily Bird all feature photos submitted by users on the BirdsEye.Photo website

Sign up for a free BirdsEye.Photo account today and begin contributing to the collection. To get started, visit Birdseye.photo and follow these easy steps: 

  1. Create a free account;
  2. Add your name and website to your profile so people can find more of your work;
  3. Submit your first photo!

By now you can tell how much we want you to contribute to Birdseye.photobut not just to help us complete our collection! While your photograph submissions will help refine the quality of our apps, they’ll also help motivate you to lengthen your own photograph life list and educate the nature-enthusiast community.

Adventuring While Birding: Safety Tips for Backcountry Travels

Photo by Michelle Walcott on Unsplash

By Avery Phillips

Sometimes a birding adventure takes you off the beaten path and beyond cell service, away from the neverending stresses and notifications of home and work. While rugged ventures on the edge of civilization can be refreshing and rewarding, they also leave you isolated and far from help should trouble arise. But fear not! We have a few tips to ensure a safe and fun birding adventure.

Adventure Safely

While birdwatching is generally a safe activity, there are still a few precautions to keep in mind—especially if you’re going off the grid. First, try to bring a friend whenever you head out on a birding adventure. Not only does a friend provide companionship and an extra pair of bird-watching eyes, but they’ll also watch your back and keep you from getting lost if you’re a wanderer.

If you insist on traveling alone, be sure to let somebody know your planned route and tell them where you’ll be and when you’ll be home. Likewise, it’s not a bad idea to pack a whistle with you, just in case.

Second, beware of trespassing on private land; look out for signs near trailhead entrances. It’s easy to get consumed by the hunt for exotic wildlife, but people can be protective of their property if you wander from public to private lands.

Finally, be watchful of other types of wildlife. Protect yourself against ticks and mosquitos with long clothes, nets, and bug spray. Also be aware of larger predators like bears, mountain lions, wolves, and moose—any one of these animals will attack if humans approach them. Depending on the animals residing in the area you plan to explore, you might need to bring bear spray or learn other ways of protecting yourself in the wild. If you do encounter a large mammal, slowly back away and try to refrain from running or making any sudden moves.

Bring Food and Water

No matter how long you plan to trek into the wilderness, packing some food and water (or a water filtration system) is essential. You will need some nourishment to fuel you through the day, but prepare for the worst (i.e., if you get lost and need to sustain yourself for a little longer than expected). When you’re out hiking and birding, bring some low-glycemic foods along with you. Foods with a low glycemic index are best because they’ll keep your blood sugar from spiking right after you eat the food and then drastically dropping, causing fatigue and hunger. Try a few of these options on your next hike:

  • Berries
  • Crackers
  • Dried fruit
  • Granola bar (protein bar, energy bar, etc.)
  • Jerky
  • Trail mix

With these snacks in tow, you’ll never have to leave a choice birding spot just because you’re hungry.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Taking breaks from technology is great for your health because it gives you the mental space to relax without constant notifications and incoming messages. Birding is a great way to get into the woods and away from technology, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use some helpful tools to your advantage! However, when you’re traveling off-grid, and you don’t have any cell service or Internet connection, how do you take advantage of the birding apps and tools you love to use? Apps like the eBird mobile app can offer offline checklists, and BirdsEye’s new offline capabilities will help you discover the birds you are likely to find around you. You’ll want to make sure and track your GPS location manually when you’re out of cell service range.

When heading out for the day, make sure to fully charge your device, even if you don’t intend to use them. Just in case you need to make an emergency call, you’ll need a fully charged phone handy.

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If birding is your hobby, then you probably spend plenty of time in the wilderness without a cell tower in sight. Birding is a great way to spend your free time, but make sure you take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and fun trip!

Birding with BirdsEye Offline

Birding in remote areas has its challenges. Though some of the most unique and diverse avifauna can be found in these areas, it is tough to lug in the field guides or camera equipment to ID them. On top of it all, little to no internet or cellular connectivity can hinder your ability to use the world wide web to identify your bird.

Hindrances no more! BirdsEye has just improved its offline capabilities! Now, all of the BirdsEye data (for every species!) can be accessed at your fingertips even when you are as far away from a cell tower or router as possible. Though it is easier than ever to access all of this data, there are a few tricks you can use to improve your experience:

  • Downloading all the BirdsEye-compiled text, photos, and sounds for the world’s’ bird species is no quick jaunt in the park. When downloading data for offline usage, ensure you have a secure and strong WiFi connection and attach your device to a charger. Through your device’s “Settings” tab, set your screen ‘auto-lock’ to ‘never’. The best download is an uninterrupted download!
  • If you do happen to find service near your remote birding location— whether this be a nearby coffee shop, hotel, or the flickering one bar of cell service atop a mountain— refresh your ‘Nearby’ and ‘Smart Search’ list. These lists will be cached into your phone and will remain accessible when that one bar disappears and you are again offline. By doing this, you can see birds that have been seen recently within your vicinity.  If you’d like a more specific list of birds, you can further narrow down your ‘Nearby’ list by interacting with the Smart Search criteria.
  • If there is a Hotspot or CBC Circle on the ‘Browse by Location’ map near your birding destination, save it to your ‘Favorite Locations’ list. This data will also cache to your device and will allow the listed birds to be accessible offline.

BirdsEye now makes it easier than ever to interact with birds and birders anywhere on the planet. We hope you enjoy the new capabilities of the app. As always, we love to hear your feedback.

Happy Birding!
The BirdsEye Team

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Birding in Papua New Guinea

By Avery Phillips

Victoria Crowned-Pigeon (Goura victoria)

Papua New Guinea is known for its diversity, in terms of landscape, culture, and species of birds. With rugged mountains, tropical rainforests, large wetlands that almost 800 different species of birds — 76 of them endemic — call home, this island country is an ideal place for birding.

Because of its mountainous interior, Papua New Guinea does not have much in the way of infrastructure. Some locations can only be accessed by helicopter or on foot, so get your gear ready. A sturdy backpack for camping, a good pair of binoculars, and a solid pair of hiking boots will do the trick.

You may also want to brush up on your photography skills and bring your camera along to document the scenery and avifauna on your adventure. You want to be ready to photograph one of the many species of pigeons, kingfishers, or birds of paradise.

Keep your camera out; in addition to the plethora of unique birds, Papua New Guinea has gorgeous scenery and landscapes you’ll want to capture on film as you work your way through the mountains, forests, and rivers. And who knows — maybe a flock will take to the sky as you’re positioning your camera for a shot! With some planning, a lot of exploring, and a dash of luck, you may be able to catch a glimpse of one of these unique birds that live in Papua New Guinea:

1. Victoria Crowned Pigeon

The Victoria crowned pigeon is one of about 40 species of pigeon found in Papua New Guinea. It is a ground-dwelling bird recognizable by its blue and white crests, maroon breast, and red irises. They are typically found at sea-level in lowlands or swamp forests and fly from the trees to the sea daily.

Victoria crowned pigeons search for food on the forest floor, often in small groups or pairs. Fallen fruit is the staple of their diet, though they will occasionally eat seeds or small insects too. Though they are widely kept in captivity, they are the rarest species of crowned pigeon found in the wild — and definitely worth seeing while birding in Papua New Guinea.

2. Shovel-billed Kookaburra

The shovel-billed kookaburra, also called the shovel-billed kingfisher, can only be found in Papua New Guinea. Their bills are short and broad, and they have dark heads, a white throat, brown irises, with rufous coloring behind their eyes, on their neck, and underparts. They also have a bright blue rump, and males have a dark blue tail while females’ are rufous.

Shovel-billed kookaburras primarily live in hill forests, though they have been sighted at sea level and elevations up to 2400 meters. Though they are not endangered or vulnerable, they are thought to be crepuscular or partially nocturnal, making them difficult (but not impossible!) to spot.

3. Black Honey Buzzard

A bird of prey endemic to the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea, the black honey buzzard inhabits subtropical or tropical lowland forests and tropical mountain forests. They are known for their almost entirely black plumage with distinct white bands on their flight and tail feathers.

Not much is known about the black honey buzzard, but they are classified as a vulnerable species by the IUCN Red List due to habitat loss. Though rare, they are easiest to spot while in flight because of their white bands.

4. Pesquet’s Parrot

Pesquet’s parrot can be found in hill and mountain rainforests in Papua New Guinea. They are large birds, with black plumage, grey scalloped feathers to the chest, and a red belly and wing-panels. They are sometimes referred to as the vulturine parrot, because of their long, hooked bill.

These parrots feed almost exclusively on different species of figs, and their bare head prevents the sticky fruit from matting their feathers. Though they are considered vulnerable due to overhunting and habitat loss, they are typically spotted in pairs or up to groups of twenty birds, making them more conspicuous than other elusive birds in Papua New Guinea.

5. Raggiana Bird of Paradise 

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the famous birds of paradise that populate Papua New Guinea. The Raggiana bird of paradise is the national bird of Papua New Guinea and is included on the national flag. They are widely distributed in the south and northeast, typically in tropical forests.

Raggiana birds of paradise are maroon to brown, with a pale blue bill, and light brown feet. The males are more majestic than the females, with a yellow crown and collar, dark green throat, and long tail feathers, which range in color from red to orange. They are known for spectacular courtship displays — hopefully you’ll be lucky enough to stumble upon a lek!

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These are only a few of the hundreds of amazing birds that inhabit Papua New Guinea. To learn more, check out the Asia Membership, which provides in-depth information and images for most of the 1700+ species in Asia, including those of Papua New Guinea. However, there’s no better way to experience the avifauna of this nation than to go birding there yourself.

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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
Australia
Mexico
Peru

Columbia
Brazil
Peninsular Malaysia

Nicaragua
Belgium and Holland
Venezuela
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.

BirdsEye Photography Tips

Custom Lists

Screenshot of Custom List in BirdsEyeWe love getting suggestions from our fantastic users, and are even more excited when we can make a request a reality! We were recently contacted via the Help Desk recently with a question about adding a custom list that would display in their BirdsEye “Needs”. John wanted to keep two separate ABA lists: one for his life list, and one for list of birds that he has photographed.  The idea is to be able to have a custom list of “Needs” for birds that John wants to photograph. Great idea, but not something BirdsEye currently supported. However, one of the great things about BirdsEye is that we can add new features much easier than before and make them available to all members.

With just a little programming magic, BirdsEye now supports two additional lists available under “Major Regions” in the region selection.

  1. Custom: maintain a list for any purpose, whether its a big day, yard list, or your ‘birds-on-a-wire’ list.
  2. Photo: use this list to track how many birds you have photographed

Here’s how it works (using the Custom list as an example):

  • From the BirdsEye Home screen select the “Life List:____” option.
  • Select the “Edit” button in the upper right corner.
  • Select the “Set Region” option.
  • Choose “Major Regions”
  • Select the “Custom” option from the list.
  • You can now choose whether to edit/view your Custom list for the current year, or as a Life List

It’s that easy! You’re all set to start adding birds to your own Custom list. Use it for keeping track of birds you’ve photographed like John, or use it for tracking any special needs. Perhaps you just want to keep a list of birds for a Favorite location, or a list while you’re traveling on vacation. All of the birds you add to the list will be filtered out automatically under the “Needs” tab in “Nearby Birds”, and you’ll just see the birds not already on your Custom list. Additionally if your birding by Location, your “Needs” will be shown there as well.

Note: Once you create a Custom list, or any other list in BirdsEye, you can easily switch between lists by choosing the “List:____” option from the Home screen, selecting “Edit” > “Set Region” and then choose from “Recent Lists” to move between your lists.

Using the BirdsEye Smart Search

So you just jumped off the plane on your dream birding trip to Ecuador. You bought the book and you’ve been studying it and think you have a handle on the 1660 species listed. Or maybe you’re just on your first trip to the Texas Coast for Spring Migration. A small yellow bird darts by. All your study flies right out the window. Where to start the search? Was it a finch? A warbler? Something else you’re not considering? The BirdsEye Smart Search can help.

smart search orioles

You can access the smart search from either the home screen or the from the nearby species screen. Touch the magnifying glass next to the search bar on the Nearby Species screen. The Smart Search lets you filter the results by colors, size and habitat. You are first asked to pick the colors. Don’t stress too much about selecting the exact colors– the Smart Search algorithm is looks for the closest colors.

Let’s search for that little yellow bird. You also saw some black on it so select black too. Did you also see some white? Select white also.

Next touch the ruler and select S for small.

Birds are usually very tied to a habitat and the Smart Search lets you select for that. Touch the tree icon and you can select by up to two habitats. You have 6 habitats to choose from: wetlands (water and cattails), grassland (green grass), woodlands (trees and hills), backyard (shrubs and birdfeeder), urban (buildings), and nocturnal (moon and soaring owl).

Imagine you’re at High Island so let’s select a woodland habitat and backyard type habitat. Touch the down arrow to hide the Smart Search filters.

Scroll down the list and you should find you just saw your life Magnolia Warbler!

Hints if you don’t find your bird:

  • Try going up and down in size by one bird. Size is often hard to judge and changing the size a little will often make your bird pop out.
  • Try eliminating one color, especially a minor one.
  • On the filter for the Nearby Birds try selecting the current month instead of Recent Weeks. The Recent Weeks uses the bird recently reported to eBird. The Select Months feature uses the eBird data for that month for the last 7 years. Maybe your bird is the first of the season reported and hasn’t been reported yet. The select month will account for that. In less birded areas maybe there isn’t much data for the recent weeks. The select months will account for that too.