TIPS & HOW TO USE

What's new in version 1.5?

Quick Start:

My Location allows you to select a state or province. After a selection is made all subsequent browsing and searches will be limited to birds found in that state/province. (more details here)

Taxonomic Index is recommended as the entry point for browsing, typing a few letters in the search box should allow you to find any species quickly by its English name, or use the scroll bar at the far right to jump down the list. (more details here)

Alphabetic Index lists birds alphabetically by last name (group name), and can be a handy quick search to look up a species, but all subsequent browsing will be in alphabetic sequence. So, for example, Mallard appears between loons and Martin, not with other ducks. (more details here)

Compare: From either the Taxonomic or Alphabetic index, tap the “Compare” button at top right, then select any two species, which will show on a split screen. (more details here)

Smart Search is a set of filters which can be used to eliminate some species, thus reducing the number of species to consider for identification. It is not a meant to be a key which will lead to a single species. Search results are always shown taxonomically, and browsing the search results (by tapping any species in the list) will be limited to the species matching all checked filters. It’s quick and easy to go back to the selection page to modify your filter choices. (more details here).

My List links to the List screen and allows browsing species you have entered in lists, while the list icon in the upper right corner of each species screen leads to a form where you can enter information and add a species to your list. (more details here)

Having Problems? View this list of answers to common problems (more details here)

Species Screens

On each screen images are "stacked" and can be viewed by scrolling up and down. Text at the lower part of the screen can be scrolled up and down. Swiping your finger across the screen will move to the next or previous species (as determined by any current search and location filters) - swipe from right to left to move to the next species and from left to right to move to the previous species. It might take a few tries before you get used to this swiping technique. Tap once on the image and it will expand to fill the entire screen, tap again to return to normal. If you rotate the device horizontally (landscape mode) the images will expand further to fill the new width of the screen. Tap once on the text and it will expand to fill the entire screen. If you rotate the device horizontally (landscape mode) the text will become larger and fill the new width of the screen. Map icon links to a range map. Edit icon (top right of screen) adds current species to "My List".  The musical note icon links to audio recordings. Please use audio recordings sparingly in the field, at low volume or through headphones for listening, and at low volume and very sparingly for attracting birds. DO NOT simply walk around broadcasting a sound. Back to Top

HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE:

1 Taxonomic Index 
2 Alphabetic Index
3 Smart Search
4 My Location
5 My List
6 Having Problems?

Taxonomic Index

  The recommended entry point for browsing, typing a few letters in the search box should allow you to find any species quickly, you can type an exact name eg.crest... or a family name eg.owl. Use the scroll bar at the far right to quickly jump down the list. Back to Top

Alphabetic Index

Lists birds alphabetically by last name (group name) then first name, and can be a handy quick search to look up a species, similar to the index of the book. All subsequent species browsing will be in alphabetic sequence. So, for example, Mallard appears between loons and Martin, not with other ducks. Use the scroll bar at the far right to quickly jump down the list. Back to Top

 Smart Search

Tips on using filters:

Show only common birds

Checking this selection will limit the list for each state to about one hundred of the most frequently seen species in that state. Obviously this list is somewhat arbitrary, but it should provide a good starting point for beginners. Note that this selection only works when a state or province is selected first.

Exclude saltwater species

Checking this option hides species that are found only in or near salt water, such as such as shearwaters, Pelagic Cormorant, American Oystercatcher, Brown Pelican, etc. This should be checked “on” when you are birding inland in a coastal state. If you are in an interior state without an ocean coastline, such as Nebraska or Pennsylvania, you should leave the saltwater exclusion set to “off”, so that you will be able to view a few species such as Long-tailed Jaeger, which are rare visitors to inland lakes. A few species are included in the “saltwater only” list even though they are found on fresh water in some parts of their range: e.g. Arctic Tern, Pomarine, Parasitic and Long-tailed jaegers, which all nest on fresh water tundra ponds well away from the coast, and Surfbird nests on rocky ridges in central Alaska, but during migration and winter are very rarely found away from salt water. A few species such as Harlequin Duck, Piping and Snowy Plovers, and Least Tern, are exclusively coastal in much of their range but are commonly found inland in other parts, and they are not included in the salt water exclusion.

In a landlocked state, selecting “exclude saltwater species” will exclude some species that are rare but regular visitors such as Long-tailed Jaeger. If you are looking at a very large body of water your chances of seeing these species rises, although some such as Sabine’s Gull show up at small ponds in the desert.

Bird type wheel

Bird type wheel - allows selection of the general type of bird as defined by overall shape and proportions, especially bill shape. Selecting “all types” will include all species, or you can select “all water birds” or “all land birds” or subsets of each of those.

Most bird types are self explanatory but these few require a bit more explanation:

Flycatching - small upright-perching birds that catch insects in mid-air in short sallying flights, often sitting on one twig for 15 seconds or more, true flycatchers have broad flattened bills

Water bird - A few species like Upland Sandpiper and Mountain Plover are included in water birds (and not in land birds) because they are clearly sandpiper-type birds, even though they do not associate with water.

Aerialist - Species that commonly spend long periods in flight, foraging from the air. This excludes species like herons that might fly long distances but generally do so in a straight line for the purpose of traveling. Killdeer and other shorebirds are excluded even though they have conspicuous circling courtship displays, but otherwise fly only as means of travel. Hummingbirds are excluded, simply because they are so distinctive.

If you are struggling to work out which birds fit into which bird type category turn "My Location" to All and leave all the Smart Search fields blank (off), except for the chosen "Bird Type". This will then show you all the bird you can expect to see in the bird type category.

Bird size wheel

Size search wheel - allows selection of a size category, which will then show a list of species within that size range. The size filters are broad and inclusive by design, with some overlap between the size selections. The purpose is to safely exclude species much larger or smaller.

 Distinguishing features list 

Color search - some species are placed in color search because of one age, sex, or seasonal or subspecies plumage. In the images that come up in results may show e.g. a mostly white Swainson’s Hawk when the search was for a mostly dark bird. Scrolling through the images reveals that Swainson’s Hawk has a dark morph.

Color refers to plumage only, not bill or legs or eye

Note that color search does not distinguish between seasonal variation, age variation, or regional variation. So Great Blue Heron will appear in search results for “mostly white” in any state or province, even though the white morph is found only in southern Florida. If any variation of a species matches the search criteria, that species will appear in the results.

Mostly white birds - keep in mind that rare individuals of any species can be abnormally pale and even white

Mostly black and white = species that are black and white in about equal amounts with little or no other color

Wing patch = a contrasting bright patch visible in flight, Usually white (sometimes yellow) often a stripe along the length of the wing, but can appear in many shapes and positions on the wing depending on the species.

Bright white or yellow rump = a patch contrasting with surrounding dark areas. Many shorebirds have a narrow dark stripe down the center of the rump, with white sides, but are not included in this list. All or mostly white species with a white rump are not included in this list unless the rump contrasts strongly with surrounding darker areas.
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MY LOCATION

Selecting a state or province is a global filter that will restrict the program to the species listed for that state until you return to the entry page to change the filter. Turning My Location “Off” will show every species in the guide. 

State lists include all of the species that are more or less expected in that state. This is not a complete list of all species ever recorded in the state and does not include extremely rare or accidental visitors.
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COMPARE

From either Taxonomic or Alphabetic index, tap the “Compare” button at top right, then select any two species, which will show on a split screen. It is then possible to scroll through the various images, browse other species, even compare sounds or maps. The first species selected for the comparison will be fixed in the lower part of the screen. The second species selected appears in the upper window with arrows to go to the previous or next species in the list. You can rotate the device horizontally (landscape mode) to slightly enlarge the images and make it a bit easier to move through both species.
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 SOUNDS

Two-letter codes indicate state, province or country of original recording.

Alabama (AL)
Alaska (AK)
Alberta (AB)
Arizona (AZ)
Arkansas (AR)
Australia (AU)
British Columbia (BC)
California (CA)
Colorado (CO)
Connecticut (CT)
Delaware (DE)
Florida (FL)
Georgia (GA)
Idaho (ID)
Illinois (IL)
Indiana (IN)
Iowa (IA)
Japan
Kansas (KS)
Kentucky (KY)
Louisiana (LA)
Maine (ME)
Manitoba (MB)
Maryland (MD)
Massachusetts (MA)
Mexico (MEX)
Michigan (MI)
Minnesota (MN)
Mississippi (MS)
Missouri (MO)
Montana (MT)
Nebraska (NE)
Nevada (NV)
New Brunswick (NB)
New Hampshire (NH)
New Jersey (NJ)
New Mexico (NM)
New York (NY)
Newfoundland (NF)
North Carolina (NC)
North Dakota (ND)
Northwest Territories (NT)
Nova Scotia (NS)
Nunavut (NU)
Ohio (OH)
Oklahoma (OK)
Ontario (ON)
Oregon (OR)
Pennsylvania (PA)
Prince Edward Island (PE)
Quebec (QB)
Rhode Island (RI)
Saskatchewan (SK)
South Carolina (SC)
South Dakota (SD)
Spain
Tennessee (TN)
Texas (TX)
Utah (UT)
Vermont (VT)
Virginia (VA)
Washington (WA)
West Virginia (WV)
Wisconsin (WI)
Wyoming (WY)
Yukon (YT)

Intervals between calls have been shortened in many recordings

Please use this sparingly in the field, at low volume or through headphones for listening, and at low volume and very sparingly for attracting birds. DO NOT simply walk around broadcasting bird songs. This will disturb the birds and your fellow birders. Locate a bird first (or a location where you think the bird is likely to be and where it might be attracted into view). Play the recording quietly (each recording on this program is just a few seconds long). Wait. If there is no response or a weak response try two or three more times, but no more.
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LIST

In keeping with a reliable and stable application the rudimentary list-keeping features of the application are limited at this stage. However this is an evolving platform and future versions of this application will offer more features and a more useful list-keeping service. The current listing feature might be helpful to some users, but it is no substitute for a more feature-rich and loss-proof system such as pencil and paper, or ebird online, or a robust list-keeping software program on your home computer. That said, read the following descriptions of features, and something here may be helpful for you to keep track of daily bird sightings.

To delete a record - select the species, press “edit” then tap “delete” in upper left corner. tapping the small red circle next to the entries on an individual record will offer an option to “delete” and tapping that will delete that entire record no matter which field is highlighted. Repeat for any records to be deleted.

Records can also be deleted by swiping right to left across a field, which will call up a “delete” button.
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HAVING PROBLEMS?
Problem: I cant find a specific bird species.
Possible solutions: Try setting "My Location" to "All", the species might not be in your selected location. If you are typing the name of a species in the "Quick Search" textbox make sure that you have the correct spelling or type just the family name.

Problem: I don't hear any bird calls/sounds.
Possible solutions: Make sure that your volume is turned up when in the application. The volume control (on the side of the device) works differently when in and out of apps. When you are not in an app it only adjusts the ringer volume, when in an application it only adjusts the application volume.

Problem: The application quits unexpectedly back to the main iPhone menu.
Possible Solutions: Turn your iPhone/iPod Touch off completely and then back on again, hold the power button until you get a menu saying "Slide to power off". The iPhone/iPod Touch only has limited memory available for applications and this can sometimes run low and cause problems with apps. If this does not help and the app continues to quit unexpectedly please let us know about the problem on: support@mydigitalearth.com
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