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Birds of the World - Cornell subscription service (1 Viewer)

Cinclus2

Member
Has anyone used this, and if so, would you say the subscription price is worth it for someone UK - based? I know it’s intended to look world wide but I’m wondering - for instance - whether it is biased more toward the Nearctic and Neotropical.

And how would you rate it for the depth of information it contains?

Many thanks
James
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
Cyprus
Has anyone used this, and if so, would you say the subscription price is worth it for someone UK - based? I know it’s intended to look world wide but I’m wondering - for instance - whether it is biased more toward the Nearctic and Neotropical.

And how would you rate it for the depth of information it contains?

Many thanks
James
Bear in mind that this is the service that used to be free under HBW.
 

Maffong

Well-known member
Bear in mind that this is the service that used to be free under HBW.
That's not true. I had a subscription under HBW too and it cost like 45€ per year.
I must say that I preferred the site when it was still a HBW project, as the layout was more compact and it had certain features like life lists that the version under Cornell doesn't have. Yet, I'm happy to have access to the resource and use it quite frequently.
The information is much more detailed for Nearctic species, as information from Cornell's "Birds of North America" was merged into the site. It's also nice that the project is closely tied to the ebird database.

I would rate the information depth as good but not outstanding. Given that over 10000 species accounts need to be maintained that is certainly good enough for me.
 

mjh73

Well-known member
Australia
The Neotropical Birds website used to be free prior to being pulled into BOW.

I decided I could do without paying more for less so stopped my HBW subscription after Cornell took over. I've not missed it yet!

I now also duplicate my ebird list into Scythebill as a backup incase ebird changes to the point I decide to pull out. Given the use I get out of ebird I still prefer to contribute my own records in to it at the moment.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
Cyprus
That's not true. I had a subscription under HBW too and it cost like 45€ per year.
I must say that I preferred the site when it was still a HBW project, as the layout was more compact and it had certain features like life lists that the version under Cornell doesn't have. Yet, I'm happy to have access to the resource and use it quite frequently.
The information is much more detailed for Nearctic species, as information from Cornell's "Birds of North America" was merged into the site. It's also nice that the project is closely tied to the ebird database.

I would rate the information depth as good but not outstanding. Given that over 10000 species accounts need to be maintained that is certainly good enough for me.
I could always access the site without payment, I would often use their excellent sub-specific range descriptions in compiling my list and there was even indication as to which races would or could, be candidates for splitting. What was I not getting that you did for 45 Euros?
 

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
Scotland
I could always access the site without payment, I would often use their excellent sub-specific range descriptions in compiling my list and there was even indication as to which races would or could, be candidates for splitting. What was I not getting that you did for 45 Euros?
You could only see a limited amount of the species accounts without a subscription.
 

THE_FERN

Well-known member
Has anyone used this, and if so, would you say the subscription price is worth it for someone UK - based? I know it’s intended to look world wide but I’m wondering - for instance - whether it is biased more toward the Nearctic and Neotropical.

And how would you rate it for the depth of information it contains?

Many thanks
James
Very reluctantly I signed up to this. For a UK (only) birder it's definitely not worth it. If you're a world birder it's marginal.

Part of the problem is the adherence to ebird's taxonomy. The sensible approach would be inclusive and agnostic, clearly describing all forms regardless of who recognises them, with an option to only show species/forms restricted by a particular taxonomy (a "restrict to ... taxonomy button"). As it is, many of the accounts are muddled due to changing taxonomy. This can be confusing at best...

...They often say something like "we're in the process of updating this account...". Not what you want when you're paying good money...

(I broadly object to the "privatisation" of knowledge like this, especially for something of global common interest like bird diversity. A Wikipedia model is the right one I feel)
 

mjh73

Well-known member
Australia
Part of the problem is the adherence to ebird's taxonomy. The sensible approach would be inclusive and agnostic, clearly describing all forms regardless of who recognises them, with an option to only show species/forms restricted by a particular taxonomy (a "restrict to ... taxonomy button"). As it is, many of the accounts are muddled due to changing taxonomy. This can be confusing at best...

...They often say something like "we're in the process of updating this account...". Not what you want when you're paying good money...
Ah yes, the switch from BLI / HBW taxonomy was another reason not to continue, I'd forgotten about that. It's irritating enough being forced to use Clements on ebird!
 

Ron13

Active member
Netherlands
I'm using it and so far I like it a lot. Been using it for a few days now. I'm from The Netherlands. The information is excellent. There's a lot of content to be found on the different species. Information, data, maps, videos, photos, calls and songs. The information comes from different sources like Birds of the world by Lynx, the Macaulay Library, Ebird and others. It's easy to find information. I like the layout of the website. There is more information on some species than others.

At the moment you can get a 30% discount and pay a little over 34$.
 

Oregon John

Member
United States
I subscribe to Birds of the World and also use eBird and (from time to time) Merlin. I think they complement each other reasonably well, if not seamlessly.

The terrific wealth of photos in the BOW McCauley library I have found very useful for identification of birds with multiple similar species in cases where my own photos aren't so great.
 

MiddleRiver

Well-known member
United States
BOW is my goto when I really want to learn about a species. I have not found the in depth info elsewhere or at least not as methodically arranged, with references to research studies etc. $45 is around the cost of a nice meal and a drink these days in US, so I feel the fee is very reasonable.
 
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pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
I use it regularly and don't mind the modest fee. There are so many things these days that are so much more expensive but so much less useful, that I am really ok with the BotW cost.

What is really annoying is that you cannot stay logged in. It is "for security reasons" per Cornell but I really, really want to know details. This is not even a thing like Netflix password sharing, this is someone literally thinking that allowing users to stay logged in to BotW presents a security risk. :unsure:
 

jurek

Well-known member
My understanding is the paid text is from Handbook of the Birds of the World published 31 to 11 years ago. It is simply getting old. Updates are mostly species splits and taxonomic rearrangements. Missing is a generation of new discoveries on nesting biology, feeding, distribution, migration, conservation etc.

I also have ideological doubts about subscription services, because it is a business model balanced against private individual. You pay money but own nothing and control little. Knowledge which was originally available for free and could be further shared free (public libraries, free websites, Wikipedia etc) is instead turned into pay-per-access.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
My understanding is the paid text is from Handbook of the Birds of the World published 31 to 11 years ago. It is simply getting old. Updates are mostly species splits and taxonomic rearrangements. Missing is a generation of new discoveries on nesting biology, feeding, distribution, migration, conservation etc.

I have no statistics on how fast new information is being incorporated, but I regularly notice more up to date species accounts or accounts that have changed. I don't know if these updates have touched 10% or 30% or what portion of the accounts, but I would guess it is some number like that.

Again, I get enough value out of having all the information concisely in one place, that in this case, I don't mind the subscription. It is one of only two subscriptions I have, the other one is cloud backup space for my entire family and I to backup all our devices more painlessly. That also is worth the modest cost to me.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I have a subscription, and I regularly check it for information on systematic treatment, or just to browse the illustrations. There is a lot of detailed information in there, and of course some stuff still needs to be updated and so on. There are what...10,000+ species of bird in the world? Keeping all of that up to date is going to be a slog. For my needs, its worthwhile, but I have a strong interest in taxonomy which is not well served by other free sources.

For those complaining about the taxonomy, keep in mind that its likely that BOW, like ebird, will be switching over to the WGAC checklist which is in the process of aligning HBW/Birdlife, Clements/Ebird, and IOC checklist into one single list. So this problem should not be a thing to worry about in a few years once the reconciliation process is done.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
For those complaining about the taxonomy, keep in mind that its likely that BOW, like ebird, will be switching over to the WGAC checklist which is in the process of aligning HBW/Birdlife, Clements/Ebird, and IOC checklist into one single list.
I believe that is the stated intent from Cornell
Niels
 

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