We 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.
- Custom: maintain a list for any purpose, whether its a big day, yard list, or your ‘birds-on-a-wire’ list.
- 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.
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.
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.
It can be intimidating to jump into a new unknown group of species, but with the Dragonfly ID app, and some good guides, you should be off to a great start. Check out the links below for some great guides to get you started on the path to learning about the interesting dragonflies and damselflies you encounter.
By Dennis Paulson
Princeton University Press, 576 pages
Dennis Paulson’s Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East is a great all-in-one guide to the 336 species in the eastern United States and Canada. The book contains helpful illustrations of the anatomical parts necessary for identification, in addition to large color photographs of each species. Also included is a glossary and index for quick navigation. Especially useful is the natural history section, which notes each species’ unique behavior for better identification.
By Dennis Paulson
Princeton University Press, 536 pages
The companion to the eastern edition, Dennis Paulson’s guide features all 348 species of dragonfly and damselfly west of the Mississippi River. The book contains large color photographs of both males and females for each species, in addition to the standard species description, identification tips, habitat, and range. Like the eastern version, it has a section on odes natural history, with detailed notes on the unique behavior of each species.
By John Abbott
Texas Natural History Guides
Just published in 2015, Dragonflies of Texas is the definitive field guide to these insects in Texas. It covers all 160 species with a two-page spread for each that includes photographs of both sexes and known variations when possible, key features, a distribution map, identification, discussion of similar species, status in Texas, habitat, seasonality, and general comments. In addition to the species accounts, John Abbott discusses dragonfly anatomy, life history, conservation, names, and photography. He also provides information on species that may eventually be discovered in Texas, state and global conservation rankings, seasonality of all species in chronological order, and additional resources and publications on the identification of dragonflies
By John C. Abbott
Princeton University Press, 360 pages
Dragonfly lovers of the south-central United States now have a guide all their own. This comprehensive tome includes the 263 species of dragonflies and damselflies that inhabit Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Covering more than half of North America’s species, it’s also useful outside of the south-central states. Entomologist John Abbott’s weighty guide is for serious enthusiasts, and includes a checklist, large bibliography, and helpful range maps.
By Sidney W. Dunkle
Oxford University Press, 266 pages
Getting up close to identify flighty dragonflies can be difficult, so binoculars are an indispensible tool to help pinpoint a species from afar. In addition to the standard identification information, Dragonflies through Binoculars offers advice on different types of optics, and how to best use them to identify dragonflies. Dunkle, a biologist at Collin County Community College in Texas, also includes tips on where to find dragonflies. The guide’s index doubles as a built-in checklist for enthusiasts to keep track of species they have spotted.
Blair Nikula, Jackie Sones, Donald Stokes, Lillian Stokes
Little, Brown and Company, 150 pages
Lightweight and portable, this guide can fit in a pocket or daypack for use in the field. The opening pages provide general information about dragonfly biology, and give tips on what to look for to aid identification. Species are organized into like groups, with a checklist in front to point readers in the right section. Although it doesn’t cover every species, this book is a perfect introductory guide to dragonfly and damselfly identification.
By Ed Lam
Biodiversity Books, 96 pages
If your interest extends to damsels, not dragons, Damselflies of the Northeast: A Guide to the Species of Eastern Canada & the Northeastern United States is your go-to guide. An artist and authority on odes, Ed Lam’s illustrations are both beautiful and extremely useful. Experts will enjoy the wealth of technical detail, while beginners will appreciate the tips to distinguish between similar species. Helpfully, Lam notes if a species can be identified in the field, or if capture and up-close inspection are optimal to pinpoint a species.
By Giff Beaton
University of Georgia Press, 368 pages
Covering southeastern species found north of Florida, naturalist Giff Beaton’s guide is perfect for dragonfly enthusiasts living in Georgia and neighboring states. The text covers the 150 most common species in the region, many of which are found in the Mid-Atlantic States and Florida as well. Large color photographs make for easy identification, and the guide also includes information on flight seasons, range, similar species, habitat, and behavior.
By Kathy Biggs
Azalea Creek Publishing, 128 pages
Naturalist Kathy Bigg’s beginner-friendly book covers the 113 species of dragonflies and damselflies of California. The guide features a bold line showing the length of each species, to help compare dragonflies of different sizes. Color photographs of both males and females are included. The descriptions are detailed but succinct, so it’s light enough to carry into the outdoors. Beginners will also appreciate the explanations of technical terms included in the glossary.
Application Tip of the Month
Using Smart Search
Whether you’re looking for dragonflies or birds, BirdsEye Nature Apps are the best apps to learn what’s being seen nearby. BirdsEye and Dragonfly ID are also great in helping you identify what you are actually seeing. Not only do they help you narrow down the possibilities by what other have reported, each app comes with 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. As soon as you start entering information about what you are seeing the list changes and sorts the species by how good of a match you have chosen.
So, if you haven’t had a chance to give Smart Search a try we think you’ll really like it. It’s especially helpful when you’re away from your home turf, or when you are just starting out as a budding birder or dragonflyer. Smart Search is included in both BirdsEye (Android and iOS) and Dragonfly ID.
You can access Smart Search from the main menu, or under Nearby Birds or when searching a specific location (iOS only). Just look for the icon that looks like a magnifying glass with a ‘plus’ sign.
BirdsEye is the best app to see what birds are being seen around you. Make sure to check in regularly with BirdsEye to see what’s being seen near your regular hotspots, or explore distant areas to plan birding stops on your next outing, vacation or business trip.
The two main views for checking on sightings are the maps view and the abundance charts.
This view is straight forward and provides all sightings of a species with eBird reports from the past 30 days. You can zoom and pan the maps to search a broader area or for a more close up view.
Abundance Charts provide bar graphs that show how frequently a species is reported based on the Filter settings for that location. Only those species within the time and distance settings are shown in the list.
How to customize the lists
Filters allow you to customize the search by proximity to your location and how recently the sightings were made. You can change the search distance, miles or kilometers, and the timeframe. Focus in on just the birds that have been reported a single park, or all sightings within 50 miles or kilometers. Tap the filter icon in the top right of the BirdsEye screen to make the adjustments. This is perhaps the most powerful feature of BirdsEye.
By working with the filter options you can adjust the view for your current location, any hotspot or one of your designated ‘Favorites’
Here’s how to adjust the filter settings in ‘Nearby Birds’, but the same instructions also work when looking at a specific hotspot in the ‘Browse by Location’ or ‘Favorite Locations’ sections of BirdsEye:
- Under ‘Nearby Birds’ tap the funnel icon in the upper right of the screen.
- Drag the ‘Distance to search’ slider to the appropriate range you want to view.
- Select the ‘Search Timeframe’ for the sightings.
- when the ‘Recent Weeks’ option is selected you’ll get another slider that you can adjust for any sightings within the past 1-4 weeks
- the ‘Current Month’ (iOS member feature) tab provides a view of all birds reported over the past 9 years or so. This option is especially useful when you are birding in a location that doesn’t have a lot of recent eBird reports.
- the ‘Select Months’ (iOS member feature) view also shows sightings for the past 9 years, but only for the specific months you select. Tap the month(s) to select the ones you want sightings for. A green checkmark will show to the right for each month selected. You can select as many months as you want the data for. Perfect for planning trips!
4. Once you’ve adjusted the filters to your liking, tap on ‘Save’ in the upper right of your BirdsEye screen.
5. The species list is now filtered according to your date and range settings, and each chart shows the birds abundance based not the same choices. You will see your current filter settings summarized in the blue bar on the bottom of the screen. These settings are maintained until the next time you make adjustments to them.
PRO TIP – When you are traveling to areas with few eBird reports, change the distance in the filter settings to 50 miles. This will combine the sightings for a larger area and give you a better idea of the birdlife in the general area.
Get ready for the Christmas Bird Count! Did you know that BirdsEye iOS shows you Christmas Bird Count circles all around the globe? (BirdsEye for Android displays CBC center points, but not circles yet.)
This is a great way to check the exact location of the CBC boundary while you are in the field.
Using latitude and longitude data from each CBC circle, BirdsEye iOS also shows the exact boundaries for each count. This is great for when you are actually out in the field and want to know how far you can go and still count the birds.
Publicly-available data about CBC circles is not always accurate, so if your favorite CBC circle isn’t showing up in the right location, please send us the correct lat/lng and we will fix it. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.