Review: Peterson Birds of North America, by Appweavers Inc. (Universal Binary)
Peterson Bird of North America, by Appweavers Inc.
$14.99, ***1/2 (universal binary)
• Comprehensive listing of birds of North America
• Includes lots of detail, and even bird songs
• No video or real life pictures
• No assistance in bird identification
*To all who are awaiting reviews – I apologize about the lack of reviews recently, but I hope to post a steady stream of app reviews of the next few weeks. If you have contact me regarding an app review, I will try to get back to you as soon as possible. Please note that contacting my (even sending a promo code) does not guarantee a review. If you have not heard from me within the next week or so, please send me another PM*
The region of Texas I live in is a huge bird watching area. We are right in the fly zone for migrating birds, and every year we have hundreds, maybe thousands of people coming to this region for bird watching. I am not a birdwatcher, but I thought I would take look at the Peterson Bird Guide. This universal app includes hundreds of species of common and rare birds, and is an import of the primary field guide for bird watching.
The app is very easy to use – open it up, and start taping on the bird types. You get imported text from the Peterson field guide about the different types of birds, along with the images of the birds (presumably from the text as well). But you also have the option of listening to the bird’s song – something a book can’t do, and something that can help many novice bird watchers. Taping on a bird can give you more detailed information about its habitat, nest, breeding range, egg description, and more. Unfortunately what it DOESN’T give you is actual photographs of the bird, or video. The addition of the bird songs make good use of the iPad/iPhone/iPod, but actual pictures and videos would have been much better as well.
Along with the general listings, you can develop your own checklists and sighting lists. With the check list, you can basically just tap off any bird you see, and then later go back and look at your life long list (I know this is a big thing with birders). The sightings list lets you put more details information about when/where you see a bird – weather, date, place, how confident you are, etc. Basically it let’s you act as an amateur naturalist to record you information. Unfortunately, the life list and the sightings list are two separate items, not linked to each other, so you can have a bird appear in your sightings, but it won’t automatically appear in the life list!
One of the big areas where I felt this app let me down was in the process of identifying birds. When you start the app, you get a general list of bird types (owls, warblers, jays and crows, hummingbirds, etc.) An inexperienced birder might not have any idea what kind of bird it is (especially for ones that look similar, like wrens, thrushes, and wagtails, all of which are very similar). It would be great to have a “I don’t know” option, where the guide tries to help you identify the bird (is it bigger than a iPad or smaller?). This would enable people to LEARN how to identify birds, which would be a great way to get more people involved. As it is, I feel you already need to have at least some experience in bird watching. Another great feature to include would be to use the location option to identify probably birds in your area – a person could get a list of likely birds, and see if the one they are looking at matches with any of those.
All in all, the Peterson Birds of North America app is a handy import of the well-known field guide. It provides lots of information about birds, and even makes use of some of the multimedia potential of the i-devices. However, this universal app falls well short of taking full advantage of the capabilities of the iPad or iPhone. Lacking video and pictures, as well as not having automatic use of the built in GPS or camera is a severe drawback, especially for people who may not be familiar with birds already. For birders on the go, I recommend this app at $14.99, but for the novice I can only give it three and a half out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.