I've been lucky enough to be able to use the new Pizzey and Knight app for
a few days before it is released on the App Store. It's expected to be
available at the end of this week. The app can be used on both iPad and
iPhone (I've been using the iPhone version) and an Android app is also
For most of this year I've been using the Michael Morecombe & David Stewart
eGuide to the Birds of Australia, and it has been helpful to have a field
guide in my pocket wherever I go, especially for call ID. The superb sound
recordings by Dave Stewart are what made this app unique, and an important
part of a serious birder's toolkit.
The Pizzey and Knight Digital Edition takes birding apps to a new level.
This is a REAL app - it uses so much of the smartphone/tablet functionality
that a lot of what it does was really just a dream a couple of years ago:
* Bird lists based on location, using inbuilt GPS, or map search, or
* A superb Key Guide for identifying species - also uses
habitat/size/shape/features, but it can limit a search using location
services (GPS), and colours for different parts of the bird
* Multiple personal lists, and the ability to consolidate any or all into a
master "life" list. These can be sorted and searched by trip, or to show
where a species has been recorded
* Birding Sites - showing 250 of the best hot spots in the country, with
key species, full species lists, and even 7-day weather forecasts!
* Option of tagging each record with GPS coordinates
* Option of tagging each record with date and time
* Side by side comparison of species (drawings, photos, maps, calls)
As well as all that, we still get the full P&K field guide, plus calls for
most species, and multiple photos of each species. There is a glossary,
detailed help section, Parts of a Bird, and the maps showing seasonal
distribution and status.
This is a superb guide. I love the way you can access the data in so many
different ways. Yes, some people prefer a more linear approach - scroll
through taxonomic order or look up an index. Well, that's how a book works.
It's ideal for some birders because it never runs out of batteries, they
can write in it, drop it, and even sit on it. But it won't show them a list
of species recorded in any area they arrive at, or play a range of calls
for a species, or allow them to quickly build a trip list tagged with times
and GPS data.
The ease with which you can add species in real time is one of the great
features of this app. Once you have a species list for your location, a
single tap next to each species adds it to whatever list you've specified -
along with the parameters you've chosen. It's not quite so easy for adding
historical data, though, if species are recorded over several different
locations each day.
One feature that's missing is the facility to search by initials or
4-letter code, as in BirdLog, easily the best birding app for fast search
and entry (BFCS finds Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike in BirdLog, but you'll need
to use CUCKOO or SHRIKE to narrow it down to less than a dozen species in
P&K -of course, setting your location will return fewer results). This
really isn't such a disadvantage, especially when the P&K app can change
easily between IOC, C&B, Clements or Birdlife names.
You can see a detailed tour of the app on the Gibbon Multimedia website:
This gives a much better overview of what the app can do, and what you can
do with the app. And that's the whole point: the user isn't constrained to
view the field guide in one way, or in one order, but has at their
fingertips an extensive database, and several ways of finding information
in it. Different birders will use the app in different ways.
I haven't listened to a lot of the P&K calls (most recorded by Fred van
Gessel) but I do like the fact that each call shows where it was recorded,
the race or subspecies, male or female, and age where relevant - plus the
name of the sound recordist. Personally, I prefer the Dave Stewart
recordings, so I won't be deleting the Morcombe app. We're a bit spoiled to
have such a wealth of birdsong at our fingertips now!
At about $70, the P&K app is more than double the cost of Morcombe and
Stewart, but considering the feature set and incredible flexibility, it is
worth every cent. I'll be interested to look at it on an iPad mini - I
think that's the optimum size: large enough to examine photos and drawings
easily, but reasonably compact. But for me, it's so convenient to have this
amazing app on the phone in my pocket, wherever I go.
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