Give wing to your birding with iBird Yard Plus

by Tim McLain

iBird Yard Plus is a bird watcher's best friend. Your next nature hike or research outing will be greatly enhanced by this fully interactive digital guide to the birds you see and hear along the way, all for less money than a single full-color birding book.

Easily search this massive collection of 234 common species by habitat, shape, color and more. Click a button to hear bird songs and sounds, then as a bird comes into view, utilize the extensive collection of photos and drawings to verify identification.

Earlier versions of iBird were a little light on the listings. The current Plus version finally matches its popular iPhone cousin in both listings and data. That said, there’s room for improvement. Not all birds you hear or see in the real world are in the app. Yet.

As a casual birder (to say the least!), I found the interface to be spot-on. A small picture of each species is listed next to its common and Latin name. Changing the sort order to first name, last name or family name is a breeze.

Clicking on a bird opens a data card of sorts, starting with a large, full-color drawing, along with a side-scrolling list of other information at the bottom. Selecting the small speaker icon plays one or more species sounds, and information about range, identification tips, facts, ecology, similar birds, cross-links to the Birdpedia, Flickr images and family data is available.

Professionals will love the ability to “favorite” any species of interest or study for quick access. Plus, the built-in note-taking pane can auto-insert date and time stamps, along with any information you care to enter via keyboard. Open the Settings menu to back up and restore favorites and notes data, and even set the app to remember your location as you journey through the field.

It’s been a bit of a rough few months for this app, but in its current form, the features and data available to DROID owners is well worth the $10 price tag. And with a lifetime of free updates thrown into the mix, the time to start birding, taking notes, and tracking sighting locations with your smartphone is now.