Birder's Guide

DEC 2015

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 31 of 43

30 Birder's Guide to Gear | November 2015 10 Tech Essentials was a game-changer because you could en- ter your sightings di- rectly in the feld with your smartphone. It is a simple, yet inge- nious app. BirdLog was recent- ly acquired by the eBird team at the Cornell Lab of Ornithol- ogy. The iOS version is now offered for free as eBird Mobile. The Android version is still available through BirdLog, free for South America, Central America, Mexico, and Europe, but not yet free for North America or the World ($9.99–$19.99). Proceeds go toward developing an An- droid version of eBird Mobile. Whether eBird Mobile or BirdLog, the app has worldwide coverage, email of checklists from within the app, and access to edit your eBird checklist. The Trip Summary feature is excellent, automatically tallying daily or customizable totals. This app is a gem. I can't imagine a bird- er who owns a smartphone and uses eBird not using the eBird/BirdLog app. 5 e-Essential Field Guide Companion | In 2006, Pete Dunne wrote an Essential Field Guide Compan- ion. Nearly ten years later, there is still nothing comparable to this book and Dunne's eloquent language for describing birds. It delves into insider identifcation tips for 691 regularly occur- ring North American species using habitat, behavior, fight, cohabitants, and so on. The title says it all: This book is essential, and it's now available as an ebook. The original hardcover version is 736 pages and weighs three pounds. The ebook, available for iBook and Kindle, weighs nothing and is always handy on your smartphone. It's completely search- able, so you can type in "bobo" and im- mediately see a touch-sensitive list of all pages that reference Bobolink. And on want to carry a heavy, expensive DSLR, then a compact "ultra-zoom" camera is in- dispensable. For a camera, it's as close as one can come to "dispensable": with back models available for less than $250, it's a better risk for a kayak dunk, a cloudburst, or a hotel theft. Nikon and Canon both make compact ultra-zooms that are popular among bird- ers. The latest Nikon CoolPix model P900 has 83x optical zoom, comparable to a 2000mm reach in a 35mm lens. Yes, you read that correctly: 2000mm of zoom for $600 and 32 ounces. The Canon Power- Shot SX60 HS has 65x zoom, equivalent to 1365mm, and weighs a paltry 23 ounc- es. Various models include extras such as RAW format, geotagging, and WiFi con- nectivity to transfer images directly to your smartphone. The weakness of these "prosumer" ultra- zoom cameras is their slow lens speed. The focusing time and shutter mecha- nisms are no match for professional-level DSLRs. But they pack a lot of cheap reach for identifcation and documentation. 4 eBird Mobile | The origi - nal release of the BirdLog app couldn't have been timed better, with the rising popular- ity of eBird and the proliferation of smart- phones. For dedicated eBirders, BirdLog calls. I no longer own a print version of The Sibley Guide, and I'd fght beak-and- talon to keep my Sibley eGuide app. But everyone has different feld guide preferences, so if the Sibley guide never clicked for you, then substitute with iBird Pro or iBird Ultimate (iOS and Android, $9.99–$19.99) or with National Geo- graphic Birds (iOS, $9.99). iBird is more encyclopedic than Sibley, including more reference text material and photos. Na- tional Geographic Birds includes brief cov- erage of some rare North American species absent from the Sibley app. I'd suggest purchasing a portfolio of feld guide apps, nabbing them as they regularly come up for sale. 2 BirdsEye | Self-described as a "bird fnding app," BirdsEye is a must-have (iOS and Android, free with in- app purchases). I wrote about BirdsEye in ABA's Birding magazine — twice, it's that fundamental. (See "The 'New' BirdsEye: A Second Look," Birding, Nov/Dec 2013, pp. 56–58.) BirdsEye taps into literally millions of eBird reports and presents rich graphical and spatial details on which birds are be- ing seen where and when. The app is now available for free, with optional in-app purchases if you'd like additional location markers or more regional content. With it, you can see what species other local bird- ers are fnding, where birding hotspots are located, and whether any life birds have been reported nearby. 3 A Digital Camera | If you already tote a long-lens DSLR camera, then you're all set. If you don't own, or don't

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