Compare

Compare iOS Birding Apps (Update October 18, 2013)

For the Android version, see iBird vs the competition (Android).

On iPhone this table is best viewed in Landscape mode. Tap the Earth icon in upper right of iPhone screen to open table in Safari. Bold = best, most, etc.

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Feb 2013

iBird Pro Guide to Birds 6.1

Waite’s Guide to Birds of North America

The Sibley eGuide to Birds of North America
1.7.1

Audubon Birds
- A Field Guide to North American Birds 2.0

National Geographic’s Handheld Birds 2.0

Peterson’s Birds of North America 1.2.2

BirdsEye NORTH AMERICA

BASICS
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iBird Waite’s Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson BirdsEye
Developer/Publisher Mitch Waite Group Mitch Waite Group Cool Ideas LLC NatureShare National Geographic Society Appweavers Inc. Birds in the Hand, LLC
Icons
Latest App Update Sept 2013 Jan 2013 Jan 2013 May 2013 Aug 2013 Jul 2013
Universal App?
(works on iPhone and full-screen iPad)
Yes No, iPad only Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of updates to date 14 1 8 13 5 6 3
Number of species 938 937 814 820 995 810 915
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MAJOR INCLUSIONS
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iBird Waite’s Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson BirdsEye
Geographical range North America + Hawaii North America + Hawaii North America North America + Hawaii North America North America + Hawaii (1) North America + Hawaii
Hawaii included? Yes Yes No Yes No Yes (1) Yes
Includes Drawings? Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Includes Photos? Yes Yes No Yes No No Yes
Includes Drawings and Photos? Yes Yes No No No No No
Includes field marks? No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Includes Search Engine? Yes Yes Yes (2) Yes Yes Yes No
eBird Hotspots? No No No Yes No No Yes (3)
Observation System? Yes (4) Yes (4) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (5)
Size of database 620 MB 1190 MB 447 MB 908 MB 855 MB 535 MB 4 MB (6)
Original Launch date Dec 2008 Jun 2013 Feb 2010 Oct 2009 May 2009 Dec 2010 Apr 2013
Species Pages
Click on a thumbnail to see how each app handles its “species” information pages. These all use the same bird: the Peregrine Falcon.












CUSTOMER FEEDBACK
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iBird Waite’s Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson BirdsEye
App store Stars (current version as of 2-14-13) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ New ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
No. of Ratings (current version) 538 New 20 460 16 14 12
No. of Reviews (current version) 242 0 13 214 8 8 10
App store Stars (all versions) ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ★ ★ ★ ½ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
No. of Ratings (all versions) 3344 58 158 1651 115 228 42
No. of Reviews (all versions) 1526 18 101 720 68 166 34
IDENTIFICATION BENEFITS
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iBird Waite’s Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson BirdsEye
Automatically shrinks list while typing bird name Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Search engine? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Number of searchable attributes 38 36 4 13 6 13 0
Taxonomic search? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Band Code search? Yes Yes No No No No No
Latin name search? Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes
Shape Yes Yes Yes (7) Yes No Yes (7) No
Size Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Month Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No
State or province Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (8) Yes No
Observed State/Month Yes No No Yes No No No
Region No No No Yes No (8) No No
Habitat Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No
Primary color Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Secondary color Yes Yes No No No No No
Backyard feeder Yes Yes No No No No No
Family Yes Yes No No No No No
Order Yes Yes No No No Yes No
Length, weight, wingspan Yes Yes No No No No No
Search by song and song pattern? Yes Yes No Yes No No No
Leg color Yes Yes No No No No No
Tail shape Yes Yes No No No No No
Wing shape Yes Yes No Yes No No No
Flight pattern Yes Yes No Yes No No No
Bill shape and length Yes Yes No No No No No
Ear Tufts Yes Yes No No No No No
Pattern related: Head, breast, belly and back pattern Yes Yes No No No No No
Game Bird Yes No No No No No No
Head related Crown, forehead, cere, throat, nape, eye color Yes Yes No No No No No
ARTWORK, PHOTOS & SONGS
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iBird Waite’s Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson BirdsEye
Multiple photos per species? Yes Yes No Yes No No Yes
Slideshow Feature? Yes Yes No No No No No
Multiple illustrations per species? Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Multiple songs per species? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Zoomable Images? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Zoom range 200% 200% 10% 200% 100% 200% None
AUDIO FEATURES
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iBird Waite’s Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson BirdsEye
Animated Waveform? Yes Yes No No Yes No No
Animated Spectrogram? Yes Yes No No No No No
Detailed Vocalization explained? Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No
Similar Sounding? Yes Yes No No Yes No No
Phonetics Text? Yes Yes No No Yes No No
Loop Sounds? Yes Yes No No Yes No No
IDENTIFICATION AIDS
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iBird Waite’s Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson BirdsEye
Range maps? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Similar birds? Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No
Similar song links? Yes No No No Yes No No
Conservation details? Yes Yes No No No No No
Family descriptions? Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No
Flickr? Yes No No No No No Yes
Wikipedia? Yes No No No No No Yes
Interesting/Cool Facts Yes Yes No No Yes Yes No
Depth of database High High Low Medium Medium High Low
MISCELLANEOUS
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iBird Waite’s Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson BirdsEye
Compare 2 Birds No No Yes No No No No
Camera to add photos Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No
Gallery Yes Yes No Yes No No No
Favorites/checklist Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No
Species notes/life list Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Quizzes No No No No Yes No No
Online or iTunes backup Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No
Embedded help Yes No Yes Yes No Yes No
Previous/Next for illustrations Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Previous/Next for photos Yes Yes No Yes No Yes No
Previous/Next for range maps Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Previous/Next for songs Yes Yes Yes No No No No
PERFORMANCE
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iBird Waite’s Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson BirdsEye
Responsiveness Excellent Excellent Excellent Typical Typical Typical Fair
Page Refresh Very Fast Excellent Quick Typical Typical Typical Typical
Lookup Speed Very Fast Excellent Very Fast Sluggish Typical Typical Typical
Startup Time Quick Excellent Very Fast Typical Sluggish Very Fast Very Fast
No Internet Connection Required Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
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iBird Waite’s Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson BirdsEye
Strengths Beautiful images and slideshows with excellent bird sounds. Bird feeder search feature for hobbyists. Outstanding search engine, large amount of data per species. Unique Birds Around Me (BAM) feature. High-resolution photos and illustrations designed for the iPad Retina Display. Excellent search features and field marks. Sibley is the only app that offers a comparison feature. Superb art. Plenty of images. E-bird hot-spot locator. Search by song vocalization, Thorough details for each species. Multiple song vocalizations. Detailed species information. Quiz feature allows users to test their knowledge. User-friendly toolkit. Real-time news-feed. Peterson’s illustrations include multiple side-by-side variations with explanations. Observation list allows users to “check off” birds that they’ve seen. Recent and real-time sightings via eBird. Displays eBird observations around your GPS location.
Weakness No field marks. Needs more female and juvenile illustrations. iBird Journal not yet available. Not good for outdoor field use because app was specifically designed for the iPad. No version for the iPhone or iPod. Few search features. Weak zoom feature and database depth. No illustrations. Many photos are fuzzy. User interface not very intuitive. Illustrations are fuzzy when zoomed. Limited search features. No photos. Illustrations are fuzzy when zoomed. Difficult viewing on the iPhone for some species. Limited search features. Offline functionality is limited as it relies on data stream from eBird.
FOOTNOTES
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(1) Peterson includes Hawaiian birds, however, their information is noticeably incomplete — including non-existent range maps.
(2) Sibley’s search engine uses broad categories including distinguishing features, all water birds, sparrow size, etc.
(3) BirdsEye is the only app that shows hotspots on a range map.
(4) Waite’s Guide and iBird offers the iBird Journal where birders can save observations.
(5) BirdsEye’s My Bird List requires the use of an eBird account.
(6) BirdsEye’s database will grow as images and sounds are downloaded from eBird’s data stream.
(7) Petersen and Sibley use a “Type” search attribute in place of “Shape.””
(8) National Geographic’s Region search attribute search by State instead of Region”
iBird Pro

In iBird the illustration and all the data about it are accessed by a sliding array of 14 buttons at the bottom of the page.

Each button opens a large scrolling screen full of information about each topic.

There are over 14 full pages of data per species.

iBird Full Screen

A single tap opens the illustration in full screen.

The details displayed with the image are crisp, comprehensive and easy to read.

At a glance you will see the Latin name, family name, order, bandcode and overview of the species.

iBird Photo

In addition to beautiful hand drawn illustrations iBird also provides several thousand photos.

In this case we see a detailed flight view of the Peregrine falcon. iBird is the only app that offers BOTH illustrations and photographs.

 

Sibley

In Sibley the only detail is provided in a short paragraph under the drawing.

Range map and audio are accessed by two buttons.

This lack of information is somewhat compensated by the larger number of drawings of each species.

However the drawings are the same tiny size as those in his book.

Sibley Full Screen

Here is the Sibley drawing after tapping it once to make it full screen.

Note how small the image is and that it can’t be zoomed any larger.

Other than it being an adult of the Pacific variety no additional information is provided.

To read about the bird you need to close the screen and scroll the tiny half devoted to text.

 

Audubon

Audubon has a static menu of 8 buttons at the bottom of the screen.

To read about the species you close the photo and tap the section called Description.

The quality of the information in the app is very good.

The app uses only photos, there are no illustrations like are found in Sibley and iBird.

Audubon Full Screen

Here is the Audubon photo after tapping it once to make it full screen.

Note the image does not use entire screen of the iPhone.

While the photo can be zoomed it becomes fuzzy.

 

National Geographic

The National Geographic app has a single scrolling page.

To access the remaining information about the bird you scroll down to 5 categories for describing the bird.

The information is adequare but not as extensive as other apps. Suprisingly the company that produces the finest printed field guide on the market did not put the same effort into their app.

National Geographic Full Screen

To see the larger version of the illustration you tap the Images menu.

Unfortunately when the image is zoomed it pixelates and becomes fuzyy as you can see here.

The National Geographic app is also one of the smallest with only about 83 MB while the others are all around 500 MB.

 

Peterson

Peterson can be a perplexing app to navigate. There is no single isolated image of the species, instead its part of a collage of other drawings.

It’s the only app that has no search box where you can access the bird by typing its name. Instead you must manually scroll though “pages” of drawings until you find the composite containing the species you want, tap it, then tap an icon to see the illustration full size.

Peterson Full Size

Here we see the largest view of the species.

Unfortunately Roger Peterson drew a collection of birds which overlap so its not possible to isolate just a single view of any species.

As you can see the head of the female is cut off. There is no way to pan the drawing to bring it into view nor can it be zoomed to see more detail.