New Smart Phone Apps Revolutionizing the Study of Birds

The revolutionary advances in the study of bird populations and migrations made possible by the Internet have now found their way into birders’ hands.

BirdsEye, a new iPhone app, gives birders instant access to the National Audubon Society’s and Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird, the largest open-source database of bird sightings in Mexico and North America.

Once users identify their locations, BirdsEye generates a list of all the resident or recently reported migratory birds within a designated radius. Confirmed sightings of rare or notable birds are also mapped and directions to their locations provided.

By making its resources available in the field, eBird says the Internet’s importance to bird studies will continue to grow. When eBird was started in 2002, bird sightings were in the thousands a month. eBird now receives more than 1.5 million sightings a month.

The increases, says Brian Sullivan of eBird, have made possible a new wave of statistical analysis and ecological studies.

Once the app is able to report sightings directly to eBird through cell phones, the database is expected to become even more useful, especially in countries where there are plenty of phones but little access to the Internet. The eBird model could also be used to study other migrating taxa, such as bats and butterflies.

Article by Bruce Stutz appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

photo: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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