Monday, January 16, 2012

BiF! Reviews

BirdNote Podcast

I just recently discovered BirdNote when web content manager and writer Ellen Blackstone started following "Birding is Fun!". I'm so glad she did, because I really enjoy these podcasts. They are short and sweet, two minute vignettes for National Public Radio. They cover a wide range of fascinating birding subjects and have great voice people. The intro and concluding music is nice too. also has supplemental information for each podcast. What a great outreach program to spark birding curiosity!


For those of you, like me, that want a fun and entertaining way to learn bird sounds to increase your field identification skills, Larkwire is a fantastic resource. You can try it for free online and purchase additional bird songpacks as you wish. I have been using it in on my iPhone and the website somewhat imitates a clunky app. Playing the bird sound games is challenging and addicting and you actually do learn the bird sounds well. I recommend playing it online for user-friendliness until a true and smooth functioning app is developed.

Peterson Birds of North America

This app has some really cool features that I've not seen on any other birding apps, like blurring out the other images on the plate when you tap on a specific bird illustration. It stays true to the Peterson field guide book. I found this app to be much less intuitive than other birding apps. It seems that you have to do a little more drilling down to find the birds you want information about and the icons aren't always self-explanatory. After some time with Peterson Birds of North America, it does become a pretty good little tool. Nigel from Appweavers is one of the friendliest, most likeable, and hardest working app developers and promoters out there.

A Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand

Julian Fitter, along with the late Don Merton, have pulled together a comprehensive and compact guide to "the land of birds." The guide contains over 600 photographs of more than 350 species that can be seen in and around New Zealand. This field guide also serves as a wonderful advocate for birding tourism for New Zealand and includes great tips for visitors. This is a place high on my list of beautiful places to see before I die and the birding there is spectacular.

Can anyone explain to me the segmented charts included with each species profile? They look important and interesting, but I couldn't find a key to understanding them anywhere in the book.

Disclosure: The developers of Larkwire kindly provided me with a free account to access more of the songpacks for this review. Appweavers provided me the Peterson Birds of North America app for this review. Apps are regularly being updated and improved, so I will likely revisit many of my birding app reviews in the future. Princeton University Press provided me a review copy of Birds of New Zealand.


  1. Robert, Larkwire looks pretty good. I have been looking for a system like that. I think I will take the plunge. Thanks.

  2. Do you mean the weird-looking diagrams to the left of the species name in the field guide? Those are keys to the species shown in the photos on the facing page. It took me a long time to figure that out, I didn't see it mentioned anywhere either.

  3. Some cool apps and podcasts there, BirdNote podcast and larkwire in particular.