iBird Pro on the iPhone is the best app when you are out in the field and need portability. iBird is our best selling field guide to birds of North America for the iPhone. iBird has much of the same content as Waite’s Guide to Birds of America (WGBA) but because it’s on a small device you can slip in your pocket, you will most likely always have iBird with you. People often say the best camera is the one you have with you, and field guide apps follow the same rule. This portability makes iBird perfect for field trips. However when you are sitting at home using iBird for study the small screen is not ideal. And of course iBird is missing many of the powerful features found in WGBA.
Waite’s Guide to Birds of America is the best app when you are mainly learning about birds. We like to say WGBA is ideal for armchair birders. Because it is designed to run on the iPad, with its large and high resolution screens, WGBA is not ideal for the field. It’s too heavy and hard to hold with one hand. But it’s the perfect app for the study of birds. It is also ideal for identification at home because it has a way more powerful search engine (using SAVE) than any bird app, including iBird. The search engine takes full advantage of the processing power of the iPad CPU and won’t work on the iPhone. Waite’s Guide also has many more features than iBird Pro. Here are a few of them:
- Field Marks on every image that can be turned on or off
- Topography maps that define anatomy
- Landscape mode as well as portrait mode which makes for more comfortable viewing
- Advanced slide show that lets you choose any photos, illustrations, bird families, artists, photographers and display the accompanied by the birds song and call.
So bottom line is the apps are complementary and have different goals. You can’t really pick one as being better than the other. For your field trips iBird works great since its so easy to carry around. You can use it on a iPod touch as well so you don’t need an iPhone. While you can use the iPad in the field most people find that its kind of unwieldy, harder to read in the sun and requires you use two hands to operate (one to hold it and one to press buttons).
Note that the iPad Mini can make a good compromise device since it has almost the same portability as the iPhone coupled with the larger screen of the iPad.