iBird for Android 2.0.9 and 2.0.10 Troubleshooting FAQ

UPDATE: iBird Pro version 2.2.1 is now available on both Google Play as well as Amazon.com. It’s approved for the Kindle Fire and for any Android smartphone or tablet.  The way the installer works has completely changed. We no longer allow downloading one species at a time or all the birds starting with a certain letter of the alphabet. Instead the entire database is downloaded before the app can be used. I will be updating the blog in the next week to give more details for for now please update your current version of iBird.  We have discovered that occasionally the server we use for storing our database (MaxCDN.com) will drop a connection while its syncing. When this happens it can cause the entire db to be corrupted and the only solution is to erase the database,  uninstall iBird and start over. We have a solution we hope to implement soon that keeps track of the download of each file and if it drops the connection iBird will retry three times to reestablish the connection.  If you would like to beta test this for us, please send an email to support at ibird dot com with the title “Would like to Beta Test iBird” and reference this post.

This FAQ is written for the newest version of iBird Pro for Android: version 2.0.9 and 2.0.10.  Unless you are already a very patient and hard to ruffle person, I suggest you jump down and read my earlier post iBird 2 for Android Troubleshooting FAQ. This was written in Nov of 2011 and will not only cover issues with pre 2.0.9 iBird Pro but also help you get through the non trivial issues that arise when dealing with Android software.

FAQ You are installing iBird version 2.0.9 and get the message below:

The  message “iBird encountered an error and is unable to create or download the database….etc” means something has gone wrong during the installation of iBird. We are working on a solution to prevent this but for now to fix this you need to uninstall iBird from your device (phone or tablet), remove any iBird database folder that may have been created, and try to install the app again and sync its database. The rest of this FAQ explains how to do that and gives tips on how to make sure the sync is successful.

Tips for Downloading the iBird Database

iBird’s database is very large, pushing towards 600 MB. We often get complaints about its large size. Less frequently we get complaints that there are not enough illustrations, photos or other content. The deal is you can’t have both large amounts of data and small size. You want higher resolution? Then you have to accept that data is going to consume more space on your phone or tablet. Why not just put it on a server and download as needed some people ask? Because that means you wont be able to view it in the field where there is no WiFi or cellular connection available. Maybe someday when telecommunications is so ubiquitous that everyone has there own personal satellite in orbit a server solution will work. But for now downloading the database is the only good solution. And it’s really not that hard as long as you take a few precautions before you start. Here are some tips to help increase the odds of not running into trouble.

  1. Only download the iBird database over a fast WiFi connection. DO NOT USE YOUR CELLULAR CONNECTION. Because most cell carriers are metering the download of data, if you go over your monthly allotment you will incur additional costs.
  2. Monitor the download and be prepared to intervene if there are problems. Some networks will intentionally slow down your connection when they sense you are “hogging” the bandwidth, particularly DSL type of internet services, so you need to keep an eye on the progress of your iBird synchronization. (BTW we are not alone in the approach of downloading the database as a separate process from installing the app. The Audubon app uses the same approach.)
  3. Insure you have at least 1 GB (One gigabyte – 1,000 megabytes) of space available for the iBird database. While it only uses half that, as it downloads it may put part of the files in a temporary part of your memory so at times you can have twice the space consumed. Once the database has finished it will take up the advertised amount.
  4. Set the Display Time out setting to Never or as long as you are allowed on your device.
  5. If you have problems downloading please don’t leave a 1 star review that says “This product is a !@#$%^ and won’t download”. Instead take the adult approach and write to our support group using the form we have prepared to help us do a good job. Here is the link: iBird Support Form. If you just want to drop us a quick question you can use the email address support@ibird.com. But we warn you – if you need more help you will have to fill out the form and we will send you to it.

When Syncing My iBird Database Stalls

Its not uncommon for the database to stop downloading in the middle of the process. We are working on a programmed solution to this but for now we have put together this quick tutorial on how to cure the problem manually.

Go to the More Page to Sync the Database

Step 1. Go to the More Page to start the synchronization (downloading) of the database.

Step 2. Read the instructions.

Step 2. Read about the different ways to sync the database. You can sync in small sections by selecting then syncing all the birds starting with the letter A, then move to B, and so on. Or  you can Sync All the birds at once. You can even sync one bird at a time by just opening its species page and waiting for the data to download.

Step 3. Press the Sync All button to start the download

Step 3. Press Sync All to sync all the birds in the database. You will need to monitor the progress.

Step 4. Monitor the downloading. If the progress bar stalls press the hardware back button than press Sync All to resume.

Step 4. Monitor the progress bars as the download continues.

If the progress bar stops and does not move for more than a few minutes press the  hardware Back button then press the Sync All button again. You will see iBird verify the species that have already been downloaded and the bottom progress bar will move. Once it gets to the first bird that was stuck the progress should resume.

How to Start the iBird Installation Over

Some people have found that iBird gets in a state such that it can’t finish the installation or synchronization. Or it gives an error that there is no SD Card and you know that you have an SD Card and its got plenty of room. In this case the best solution is to start over. Here is how to do that.

Know Your WiFi Bandwidth

One of the first thing you need to do is make sure you have a good connection to the internet with a fast WiFi. We have seen many situations where the customer thinks they have a fast WiFi only to discover upon testing this is not true.

Why is bandwidth important? Because iBird is a really large database. In fact it’s too large to store in the Google Market. To understand this lets calculate how long it takes to download a 600 MB set of files over a 1 Mbps connection, which is typical of a wireless router connected to a DSL network. Assuming a byte is about 8 bits a 600 MB file is 600 x 8 or about 4800 megabits. 4800 megabytes divided by 1 megabits per second = 4800 seconds. In minutes this is 4800/60 = 80 minutes  or 80/60 = 1.33 hours. Call it 1-1/2 hours. Because there are several thousand files that make up the iBird database there is a good deal of overheard so that the actual download will be even longer. Consider a 50% efficiency the download time can double to 3 hours.  If your bandwidth is 2 Mbps you can assume your download will be 1-1/2 hours and if its 6 Mbps it will take 3 / 6 or 1/2 hour  or 30 minutes. I have a cable connected to a very fast router and speedtest.net says my bandwidth for download is 20 Mbps so should I expect it to take 3 / 20 = .15 hours or 9 minutes? I wish. The problem is the tablet or phone can’t process files as fast as my bandwidth seems to allow. The best I have been able to get is around 15 to 30 minutes.

Keep in mind that some ISPs will slow down your network if it thinks you are hogging the bandwidth and so the calculations can go out the window. Another factor are the servers that stores the files for iBird. If there is a lot of traffic on them it could slow the download time. We see this sometimes when a new update is first released and thousands of customers are attempting to update at the same time.

To test it you can download another app from the Market. My favorite is speedtest.net. Run this app a few times and make sure your bandwidth is as fast as we described in the previous section. If its lower take a look at your router to see if its using the right protocol or talk to your Internet ISP and see if they can explain why its not faster.

  1. Uninstall iBird. Use either the Market uninstall button uninstall the app from Settings using Settings→Applications→Manage Applications→iBird Pro then press the Uninstall button
  2. Remove the iBird Pro folder. Use a third party file manager app from the Market. My favorite is Astro File Manager. Find this app in the Market, download it then use it to locate the folder iBird_Pro on the SD Card. If you don’t have a physical SD Card you can find it in the folder mnt/SDCard.
  3. Now since you have already purchased iBird you can go to the Market again, search for it by typing “iBird” in the search box.
  4. Now go ahead and reinstall iBird. When it is done resync the database.

Hopefully this time your installation and syncing will work better.

If you continue to have problems please contact our support team and we will work with you.

FAQs from iBird Users


One wise user recommended disabling “automatic updates” for iBird in the Google Market. Reason? If this setting is ON (the checkbox is checked) Google Market will try to install a new update to the app in the background. That could lead to problems, for example if you are on a slow network, don’t want to incur the costs on a cellular network, or if you happened to be in the field. If  you keep automatic update OFF the Market will still let you know if there is an update when you go to My Apps in the store. But it will be up to you to start the update so you can do it when you have a fast WiFi connection. Note iBird will still let you know if there is a database update because we do that in the app. And of course you can press the Later button to do the database update some other time.

21 thoughts on “iBird for Android 2.0.9 and 2.0.10 Troubleshooting FAQ

  1. “iBird’s database is very large, pushing towards 600 MB”


    “Insure you have at least 1 MB (One megabyte) of space available for the iBird database. While it only uses half that, as it downloads it may put part of the files in a temporary part of your memory so at times you can have twice the space ”

    I think the second reference is either wrong or needs clarification.

    • Wow sharp eyes! That should have been GIGABYTE not megabyte. Thanks for catching the mistake. Did you actually need to read the article to get your database installed or just being a good proof reader (mine is currently opening Christmas presents)

  2. okay – seeing it again suggest the first refernce is the flash memory & the second reference is to the RAM – but it could still use clarification

    i got the ‘iBird requires an SD card” message on my first install so uninstalled, frustrated that it wouldn’t work onmy new kindle fire after testing it & liking it on a borrowed tablet

    then i saw someone’s comment on amazon that it installed on the second try, so i am trying again, a letter at a time

    in the meantime the price has been cut in half from what i paid, while in the meantime i have endured multiple frustrations & confusions

    eventually i hope to feel like i have gotten my money’s worth

    merry christmas

    • Just caught this second message. Let me answer best I can.

      1. You were right that was a typo.
      2. The frustration you had is something we have not seen much of on the Fire. Once we update that version from 2.0.5 to 2.0.9 it should stop that message from ever appearing.
      3. I am sorry about the price cut, it was not my idea, Amazon didn’t ask me about it – they just TOLD me that they were putting iBird on promotion. They didn’t even tell me what they planned to do until I noticed one day the price had been cut in half. It was unnerving but then the additional sales made up for the cut so its hard to complain. Still I would not feel bad if I was you, the app retails for $29.99 on the iPhone and $19.95 on Android, and has been on sale for Christmas for 50% off. So at $9.95 you are getting a killer deal. Compare that price to any paper based field guide (the Nat Geo is $27.95 and not very portable) and you can’t come away feeling bad unless the Grinch lives at your house, not to mention the average size of an illustration in that book is 1 inch square.

      If your second installation try on the Fire has problems please email us at support@ibird.com and we will help you get it working. And Merry Christmas.



  3. Mitch: My grandson, age 2-1/2 years, LOVES iBird Pro. When we go to a restaurant, he sometimes asks to see a bird on my HTC Incredible, and the photo and sounds keep him well entertained…well, at least for a few minutes. He is after all a toddler! FYI, I got the “no SD card error message” after what was probably an interrupted update. So, I’ve just followed your uninstall instructions, removed the iBird folder, activated my WiFi link, downloaded iBird, and am now updating the database. I may not know if it was successful until tomorrow, but that’s OK so long as it works as I LOVE THIS APP!

  4. Mitch: Here’s an idea for a future upgrade–give users the option on enabling GPS location in iBird, and provide a simple way for them to “report” a siting. Then, make a compiled siting list and map available real time to other subscribers. You should also include an “Alert” feature, to notify a subscriber if a bird that they have flagged is within X miles of their current location.Also, include a LIFELIST feature to maintain the users lifelist and the ability to receive notificaiton when a bird that would be a new lifelister is within X miles. I expect that such a set of features would increase your sales 10 fold. I hope that you can make this happen.

    • Good ideas here Jay, thanks for sharing them. Anyone else interested in reporting Sightings and sharing with other birders? How about alerts for birds that other birders have sighted? Our impression is that people who do bird observation and listing are not the majority of birders and tend to be the more advanced people.

      • Have used “IBIRD” since 16JAN11. LOVE IT. No problems using “IBIRD” on my “Samsung” “Fascinate” android!
        Can’t recommend getting into Alerts… National Audubon & Cornell’s “EBIRD” can’t be beat,with no downloads.
        Recommend “IBIRD” stay focused on field guide theme

  5. You might advise users not to invoke “automatic update” inasmuch as that may cripple iBird while in the field. I love this ap! I simply update and synch with a fast wifi connection when convenient.

  6. This may very well be my inexperience with Android and smartphones in general talking, but to follow up on one review I read, it would appear that it is possible to run this app from the SIM card instead of the phone’s memory. Is this as simple as copying iBird from the phone’s main folder into the SIM card folder? (When the phone is mounted on my Mac I see these two, separate folders) Otherwise, can you provide some details on how to transfer / run iBird from the SIM card? That would be very helpful. The phone I’m using is a brand new Samsung Galaxy S2 running Android 2.3.6. I don’t want to do anything stupid that would disable your excellent app, (which I agree is a complete steal at the 9.95 I paid for it).
    Many Thanks and Happy New Year

    • Don I think you are confusing “phone” memory with “storage” memory. SIM cards are only capable, AFAIK, of storing contacts and of course the specific phone number of your device. Phone memory is the smaller memory that the phone’s CPU uses to do its tricks. It usually around 1 MB or less. Storage memory is the larger area where you can put data, apps (but not always), music, videos. etc. Storage memory may be build into the device (like Apple’s iPhone and iPad as well as many new tablets) or it may be removable via an SD Card. And many devices offer both built in storage memory and external SD Card storage. Some programs won’t work in storage memory. Often these are apps that are encrypted or protected so that they can’t be copied. Or they need the fast speed of the phone memory (storage memory is usually slower). Customers want to put as many apps as they can in storage memory so that there are lots of free memory for the system to use.

      iBird automatically attempts to store the app in storage memory. The reason it won’t could be there is not enough space. If you want to determine where your apps are stored go to Settings->Manage Applications and find the app you want to know about. If the app is in storage memory you should see a button which says Move to Device or Move to Phone. If the app is stored in phone memory you may see the button which says “Move to Storage Memory”. I hope that answers you question.

  7. Is Ibird pro for android less than Ibird for the iphone. I have an android phone and only the drawing and not the pictures came down. Also no search capabilities such finding the bird with color and location, etc.

    • The Android and iPhone versions have identical content and search attributes. If you are missing any images it means the sync did not complete or there was a interruption while syncing. You can go back to More->Sync and select Sync All.

  8. Just wanted to let you know that I recently installed ibird on a new Droid Thunderbolt. Had a few issues, but overall not a big deal. One issue I noticed was as I was downloading the birds, it would appear that the program had locked up. It would show about 50% way through a particular bird when in fact it had gone past that one and was downloading others. I know this because when I would back out of it and restart the sync, there were more birds that what it had showed previously and a higher percentage of completion. Other than that it appears to work well. The other issue is that when I went to register the program, it kept telling me that my email address was invalid. This is the same email address that I received the receipt from the purchase. Not sure what is going on there. Couldn’t get past it and had to click the “never” button. Hope I still get notifications of updates.

    • This is good feedback and describes a scenario that we have seen in iBird during the download process. Apparently the progress bar gets stuck and the download is still occurring in the background. We have been working on a new update that will change the way the download process works by using a technique called “hashing” which allows us to only download files that have changed when we do an update. It also allows us to update the app without requiring the user to download the unchanged database. Last we have a feature that will retry the download if for some reason Internet connectivity is lost. This can occur when the CDN drops the connection or the user loses the connection because they moved out of its range or changed the setting while it was downloading.

      The invalid address is something I have heard about last week for one customer. We are looking into it.

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