Response from Birdsight AU Developer

To: Dave Torr <>
Subject: Response from Birdsight AU Developer
From: Carl Clifford <>
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2009 18:31:41 +1000
I suppose that you could note the subspecies somewhere on the record (does it have a notes or comments spot?) and when you back up the data into a spread sheet etc., make a field for ssp.

On 12/08/2009, at 5:46 PM, Dave Torr wrote:

I am too primitive to use an iPhone, but one issue I have with many
recording systems which I guess applies to this one as well (maybe I am
wrong) is the inability to record at subspecies level. I know we can't
always pick the subspecies and there is no "official" list of subspecies for Australia, but in a world where species regularly get split it is useful to record the subspecies when you can in case you can get an "armchair tick"

2009/8/12 Russell Woodford <>

Hi everyone

Here is part of Charles Mezak's reply to some suggestions I sent about the iPhone app BIrdsight AU. It is great to get such detailed responses from a developer, and even better that we are likely to see some enhancements to the next update. Please feel free to send your suggestions to Charles if you
have ideas for the app.

Russell Woodford
Birding-Aus List Owner

Geelong   Victoria   Australia

Begin forwarded message:

From: Charles Mezak <>
Date: 12 August 2009 2:04:34 AM
Subject: Re: BIrdSight AU

Hi Russell,

I'm so glad to be hearing from you. Please share my happiness with the birding-aus list, both for the fact that they are finding some use in my app
as well as for their willingness to share this feedback with me.

We don't allow commercial messages on Birding-Aus, but we do debate new
birding resources, so you might like to read comments by members who have
used BirdSight AU. You can subscribe at

or read the messages online at - click the
Archive link or search using the search box on that page.

Thanks, I'll look into this soon. If and when I do post, I'll try to stay
within the bounds of propriety vis-a-vis the commercial issue.

A couple of suggestions after just a few days of using the app:

1. Can the Add Sighting control be placed at the TOP of the Observation,
rather than the bottom?

Very good idea! I do try to think about making things quick and easy, but this had not occurred to me. I'll have this change in the next update.

2. There does not seem to be a way to delete a single species from an

You're absolutely right. This was a tremendous oversight. It's already
fixed in the code, and will be in the next update.

3. A lot of other iphone apps have an alphabetic short cut (like in the
address book or Phone Contacts) - instead of clicking the search box for every species, it would be good to be able to click a letter and then scroll
to the bird.

Can do. I'll get this done for the next update.

4. A lot of birders keep longer term lists for a favourite site - such as
a month list for home or work, or a trip list for a holiday. Is there any way that Observations can be tagged as multiday, not just for a single day?

Yes, I can make this happen.

5. I agree with David that it would be good to have no number as the
default for each species record. I know you are storing that as a numeric field, but is there any way you could allow for species to be tagged as Heard only? I suppose we can do that through the notes - but another field of just a few alphanumerics might be useful - H for Heard, J for Juvenile, M
for Male, F for Female, N for nesting etc

On the sighting count issue, yes I'll do that. (Technically, what I'll do
is have the default count be -1 in the database, which the app will
translate as "unspecified".

About the Heard, Juvenile, Male, etc. options, yes that is something I should add. Perhaps at the bottom of the sighting details there can be a row for each of these options that can be checked of unchecked. So, if a birder sees a mated pair of finches, she can check both the Male and Female rows to indicate that both male and female birds were sighted. Does that make sense?

One question I have for you: In the latest version, when a user adds a sighting for a bird, the app returns to the Observation page. I chose this because it allows the user to quickly add a new sighting for another bird (sometime one sights multiple species at once and wants to enter both sightings in quick succession.) However, another option would be for the app to immediately present the detail page for a newly created sighting. This would allow the user to enter details like count, etc. right away before
they are forgotten. Which do you think is the better way to go?

6. Links - I suggest you add the Birdlife INternational data sheets:

and perhaps a link to the IUCN Redlist

I think most people using this app would prefer this type of site (as well as Flickr and Wikipedia) rather than the "popular press" sites like Encyclopedia of Life (which doesn't have a lot of Aussie birds!). The Cornell Lab site also fails to find some of the very common Australian

Good to know! I think I'll remove the EOL and Cornell links then so as not
to clutter up the interface. I'll see about adding these two.

7. A link to birdsong resources would be fantastic to have - but I guess
there are all sorts of copyright issues there!

Usually there are, yes. And when they are available for public use they are usually not located in such a way that the app can automatically find them. Wikipedia does have some bird sounds in their articles, but I've yet to find a way to integrate them into the application. That's something I
intend to do in the near future.

With the next update, you'll be able to cache downloaded wikipedia
articles so that they are always available to you without an internet connection. I may try to extend this caching to other websites if it seems appropriate. It wouldn't work for flickr for several reasons, but I have another idea for that one. With this next update, you'll just need to have access to a fast connection for the initial cache of the data, which will then be ready on your device anytime you want to access it. Even if data usage were not an issue, loading from the device is much quicker than from
the web.


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