Wednesday, 1 October 2014

App review: The Bird Songs of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East - Sunbird

After using the CD version of The Bird Songs of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East for the last year I was excited by the prospect of having the use of it in App format rather than a little MP3 player, although it’s a pretty hefty download; you've got to take into account it’s holding 2817 songs and calls, at least one picture of each species described (in most cases 2 photographs) and a sightings log to use on the move.

Once downloaded and installed you will be immediately struck by how quick and responsive the app is, there’s no waiting around for pages to load or songs/calls to start, you press the button and away you go. Navigating my way around was extremely simple, you've got three options of main screen and a search function, the default screen is split into taxonomic folders making it easy for you to search for that tacking Sylvia or whooeeting Phyllosc. The design is impressive too; it’s very easy on the eye and clear to see with white text on a green background. Each species has a description; a spectrogram (visual representation of the spectrum of frequencies in a sound) and sonogram are also included as is the option to loop the recording, which is a great function for those trying to memorise new calls.

Most species covered within the App have both a song and call attached, it was a little disappointing to find that some species such as Blyth’s Reed Warbler and Paddyfield Warbler didn’t have the calls attached and only the song was included, for the budding rarity finder that’s at least two classic autumn vagrant vocalizations missing. 

The wiki function doesn’t work unless you are connected to the internet in some way, it takes a while to load and being open content it’s possible for anyone to edit and include wrong information. In short this is a good App, condensing lots of CDs into one package and is great for anyone who doesn't own the set, however there is some very stiff completion out there now and at £54.99 it’s not the cheapest on offer either.

-Joe Stockwell
Joe is 23 and an ex Portland Bird Observatory Assistant Warden. He's a birder, ringer and now living by the sea but not in a lighthouse. He loves finding decent birds, and is currently looking more in depth at vocalisation and how to read bird sounds.

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