Anyone used ornithopedia?


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Anyone used ornithopedia?

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Afternoon everyone. Hope you're all well and greetings from springy Switzerland. Both my partner and I have the eGuide to Birds of Britain installed on our Android phones. Recently on a trip to Tuscany a guide at a private reserve administered by WWF used (I think) ornithopedia. We were just wondering if anyone has any experience of this app? Many thanks and best regards - Dave
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  • Hello Dave, welcome from the very top of the north of Scotland, in Caithness. Sorry do not know of their app, hopefully someone can help, this will bump the post up for you.

  • I'm afraid I can't help you, Dave, as I wasn't aware of its existence. It seems to have had generally favourable reviews on Google Play although like all Apps it's not perfect. There seems to be some discussion about needing a WiFi internet connection to be able to download new content. I don't know whether this is a major impediment.

    I notice that it uses sound clips from the xeno-canto website which I use independently so if they are linked directly to the App it could be useful.

    It's free so you've nothing to lose by downloading it to your phone and giving it a try. If you do, I think we'd appreciate some feedback on what you think of it.

  • Thank you Catlady. I feel bumped.

    Thank you too TeeJay. Good point regarding it being free; reminds me of an old joke about God, Moses, and the Ten Commandments, but I don't think one can tell those old jokes these days.

    Yes, I noticed the hook up to xeno-canto (great and very useful site). I'll install it and when I've had a moment, let you all know what I think.

    Off for a walk with the Wood warblers...

  • So, as TeeJay suggested, I installed the app and had a nose around. First point, I had no stability problems with my phone following the install. Ornithopedia uses a mix of material that it pulls together from various sources, and for which Ornithopedia does not own the copyright. Some of this material requires an internet connection, which is potentially problematic due to (a) cost issues (when roaming abroad) and (b) connection issues (where no 3/4G connection is available). Images come from ‘independent authors over at Wikipedia Commons and Flickr’. This means that while you get a number of images per bird, these images can be a mixture of photos and, say, oil paintings. You also get the odd wing, which I personally find disconcerting. Another issue with the images is that without installing an additional module, images are cropped automatically, so you’ll get an excellent picture of a Goshawk, but with the head cropped out. Fortunately, the module is free to install and can be picked up directly from within the app itself. Sound is a link to xeno-canto, direct to a selection of recordings. But, of course, this requires a 3/4G or WIFI connection. There are no ‘onboard’ sounds. There’s a ‘search-by-name’ function, which is well set up, picking up all related names in a scrollable list. Once you have picked up the record for an individual bird, you basically have three tabs: one with images (onboard), one for sounds (that link to xeno-canto), and one that provides information. The information tab contains no description, but does—usefully—have a multilingual name list from the IOC world list (a help, for us at least, while abroad; or even at home as Switzerland has four national languages). Another useful feature is a bar graph giving distribution in your chosen location (this from ‘Ebird data’). There’s an ‘Ornitho-Trainer’ feature, but once I’d seen what seemed like a thousand photos of Chaffinches (much as I love them), I gave up on that. Finally, there’s help with identification, which is actually relatively well thought out. You can establish (from drop-downs) up to 19 elements, including zone, body form, body size, body pattern, chest pattern, wing pattern, body colour, wing colour, head colour, chest colour, beak colour… So, for example, if I search for a forest bird with a grey beak and generally brown, I do pick up a Hawfinch (among 16 direct hits and 41 indirect hits). Overall opinion, Ornithopedia gives me very little that I don’t already have in the eGuide to Birds of Britain, other than the distribution graphs and multilingual name list (and perhaps the identification function). It does, of course, cover birds that the British guide does not cover, including the European Roller and the Short-toed Eagle, both of which we saw in Tuscany last week; much depends, really, on where you’re watching/seeing. Hope you all find this helpful. All the best – Dave