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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

The Demise of Birding Software (3 Viewers)

dixonge

Member
United States
Strange, I find managing/altering locations very easy myself.

There's an overview of BirdJournal here...
Are countries/states already set up by default in parent/child format? I'd hate to enter all that by hand...

Thanks for the video. It does seem to make more sense now. I'm evidently much more of a 'casual' birder than most, so there are a lot of features in birding software that I'll never use, but at least I have a better sense of workflow now.
 

toby

Well-known member
I have sightings from 40+ states and a few countries. :(
Would take about 5 mins to add 40 states? Don't need to add any details. The details (e.g. grid reference) would be under the actual site within the state. Countries are there automatically, so nothing to do there.
 

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
Scotland
I downloaded Bird Journal some time ago and got some records onto it.

Yesterday I thought I'd get started again. So opened up the app.

I got a message that there was a new updated version (or words to that effect) waiting for me. But I couldn't work out how to get it.

I ended up clicking on Tools, then couldn't back out of that.

This morning I tried again, this time clicking on Help, About Bird Journal. Again I couldn't back out of it. All I can do is close the app.

Clicking on Bird Journal Help does open the help page in a browser tab, but can't see instructions for updating.

Sooo... how do I get the upgraded version (hopefully those issues I've just mentioned will have been sorted?)
 

snowyowl

Well-known member
I've been using Bird's Diary for decades but it has stopped working. I don't mind too much not being able to enter data but am sorry that I can't access the years of accumulated data.
 

toby

Well-known member
I downloaded Bird Journal some time ago and got some records onto it.

Yesterday I thought I'd get started again. So opened up the app.

I got a message that there was a new updated version (or words to that effect) waiting for me. But I couldn't work out how to get it.

I ended up clicking on Tools, then couldn't back out of that.

This morning I tried again, this time clicking on Help, About Bird Journal. Again I couldn't back out of it. All I can do is close the app.

Clicking on Bird Journal Help does open the help page in a browser tab, but can't see instructions for updating.

Sooo... how do I get the upgraded version (hopefully those issues I've just mentioned will have been sorted?)
If you have a very old version you should go to the website to get the latest version. After that, updates should be automatic.
 

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
Scotland
Thanks Toby... it's version 5.1.211 that I've got.

.... and I've just seen the 'Close' option at the bottom of the About BJ LOL. These new glasses have a lot to answer for LOL
 

dixonge

Member
United States
I guess this has been going on for awhile, but I just now discovered that it seems as if most of the birding software out there, especially for the Mac desktop, has disappeared. Either the creator has died, or the web site is gone, or the software has been discontinued, or - for the few remaining, the interface appears to have been designed before the turn of the century. If it exists, it's ugly and/or very painful to navigate.

I guess that helps me narrow things down. Basically I will end up using either eBird or iNaturalist. Or maybe both. My desire to keep my own records on my own hard drive that I can access without an internet connection is evidently no longer realistic.

I hold out hope that I have missed some rare app, but I know that's just a pipe dream...
An update and a wrap-up. From the responses on this thread, it would appear that there are still two Mac desktop birding apps that are popular with birders here -- BirdJournal and Scythebill. Scythebill is free and open source, developed by an enthusiast for over a decade. I love the Flickr import process! BirdJournal is a paid app developed by a family business. The basics are free, but the 'cool' features require an annual subscription of $40 (graphs, maps, reports, etc.). I'm interested mainly in the map display of observations using photos.

I was probably a bit harsh in my original assessment of interface. I gave Adam some (hopefully) constructive criticism of my experience w/ Scythebill. @toby provided some good info on some of the inner workings of BirdJournal which helped.

At this point my workflow choices look like this:

1. Organize photos, upload to Flickr, import to Scythebill, add info, export to eBird. OR...
2. Create listings in BirdJournal manually, import photos per observation, export to eBird.

Both of these workflows feel like they have a lot of friction points. I guess I could always start w/ Scythebill then switch to BirdJournal later? Or just use both. Not sure. It still feels like the things I want out of birding software are either not present or are scattered among apps and sites. Am I being unrealistic in wanting modern UI/UX in an ancient hobby?

(related note - I often feel the same way about genealogy...)
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
Think that your experience illustrates the challenge of software development.
It is very difficult to create an interface that is welcoming to the novice while also flexible enough for the expert.
Perhaps that is why the more generic E-bird system is so pervasive, despite its constraints.

More broadly, one may worry that useful information will get lost, because there is no provision to record it.
Notebooks are unlimited in terms of what one writes down, apps not so much.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
An update and a wrap-up. From the responses on this thread, it would appear that there are still two Mac desktop birding apps that are popular with birders here -- BirdJournal and Scythebill. Scythebill is free and open source, developed by an enthusiast for over a decade. I love the Flickr import process! BirdJournal is a paid app developed by a family business. The basics are free, but the 'cool' features require an annual subscription of $40 (graphs, maps, reports, etc.). I'm interested mainly in the map display of observations using photos.

I was probably a bit harsh in my original assessment of interface. I gave Adam some (hopefully) constructive criticism of my experience w/ Scythebill. @toby provided some good info on some of the inner workings of BirdJournal which helped.

At this point my workflow choices look like this:

1. Organize photos, upload to Flickr, import to Scythebill, add info, export to eBird. OR...
2. Create listings in BirdJournal manually, import photos per observation, export to eBird.

Both of these workflows feel like they have a lot of friction points. I guess I could always start w/ Scythebill then switch to BirdJournal later? Or just use both. Not sure. It still feels like the things I want out of birding software are either not present or are scattered among apps and sites. Am I being unrealistic in wanting modern UI/UX in an ancient hobby?

(related note - I often feel the same way about genealogy...)
To my mind, it sounds like you are a photographer that wants to have lists of species photographed rather than a birder who wants lists of birds observed whether photographed or not.
Most birding software is built for birders who want the second. The Ebird app with exports to scythebill works perfectly for this, for example. Once at home you can open ebird and add photos of the birds observed. Other software is great for logging information that also includes other species.

With the photo-first starting point, have you considered using a photo-organization app such as ACDSee?

Niels
 

stuartelsom

Registered User
Supporter
United Kingdom
Just to add, as another contributor who was involved in developing/testing Bird Journal back in its infancy. This program has the ability to record all taxa, not just birds, so when I return from leading an overseas tour I can catalogue butterflies/moths/herps as well as birds. Equally, this is an important feature for me as a professional ecologist so that species lists from surveys can be linked to sites and/or photographs, both of which are very important to be able to locate quickly and accurately for future reference or reporting.

Stu
 

dixonge

Member
United States
To my mind, it sounds like you are a photographer that wants to have lists of species photographed rather than a birder who wants lists of birds observed whether photographed or not.
Most birding software is built for birders who want the second. The Ebird app with exports to scythebill works perfectly for this, for example. Once at home you can open ebird and add photos of the birds observed. Other software is great for logging information that also includes other species.

With the photo-first starting point, have you considered using a photo-organization app such as ACDSee?

Niels
Niels,

You may have a point there. But I kinda want both. Mainly, I want an easier way to take hundreds of bird photos and turn them into observations/records. ScytheBill has a way to do this, but I am put off by the way it is organized and displayed. BirdJournal has a very nice map view (in the Pro version) that would display things in a way that I like, but no way to import photos in bulk and turn them into records.

The Scythebill dev updated instructions for iNaturalist imports, so I was able to do that, which was nice.

What I would prefer for an interface is something much more like eBird or iNaturalist, which show you multiple options for both managing and exploring your listings. iNaturalist does have a bulk photo/audio import option. That is very nice. I can see a workflow where I upload representative samples to iNaturalist, then once the photos receive some level of ID verification, I can finish up locally with a combination of smart folders. I can also send albums to Flickr for mostly photo display purposes, not observation/sighting lists.

At this point this feels like a more workable solution for me.
@stuartelsom: This program has the ability to record all taxa, not just birds, so when I return from leading an overseas tour I can catalogue butterflies/moths/herps as well as birds.
I have begun recording other species as well, mainly in iNaturalist. I need to expand on this!
 

YuShan

hikingbirdman.com
United Kingdom
I love Scythebill and the ease of use has made me list more than before. I have also discovered quite a few errors when I imported my historical records for the first time. They turned out to be errors in field guides and also some splits/ lumps that had taken place since.

One feature request:
When I'm browsing species, I can see date and location of my sightings. It would be really cool if from there I can also see the map of the location (view only), like I can see when I go to the location editor. Because often my locations are GPS locations in some wilderness area so I don't have a good memory where exactly they were. I can look it up in the location editor, but it would be really cool if the location map was directly viewable from the observation without going back to editor (I don't want to edit the location, just view the map).
 

awiner

Well-known member
I love Scythebill and the ease of use has made me list more than before. I have also discovered quite a few errors when I imported my historical records for the first time. They turned out to be errors in field guides and also some splits/ lumps that had taken place since.

One feature request:
When I'm browsing species, I can see date and location of my sightings. It would be really cool if from there I can also see the map of the location (view only), like I can see when I go to the location editor. Because often my locations are GPS locations in some wilderness area so I don't have a good memory where exactly they were. I can look it up in the location editor, but it would be really cool if the location map was directly viewable from the observation without going back to editor (I don't want to edit the location, just view the map).

Interesting idea, tracking this as:


(I think I'd do it by opening up a web browser with one of Google Maps/OpenStreetMap, etc., because there isn't an easy place to fit a map in.)
 

Petersharland

New member
If you use the "Trip report" option in Show reports, you get a formatted trip report which you can copy and paste into a Word doc. Or, rather, just paste - the moment you select a Trip report Scythebill does the "copy" for you automatically. (I chose that rather than directly creating a Word doc so you could paste into your favorite editor, not just Word.)

Also, you can always select a list of species, locations, etc. anywhere in the program and copy-and-paste into an editor.
My wife uses Scythebill for her lifelist and loves it! Is there any way we can access the data on my iPad?
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I know I am late the party, but there is also always Excel. I've always just use that program to write up my lifelists and equivalent lists. Yes, it won't update automatically with each checklist update so requires more hands-on maintenance to manage, but it also give you total freedom on formatting, organization, and taxonomic decisions, and the tabs option allows multiple different list types to be stored in the same file. Then again I find tweaking and editing of my life list files strangely comforting, so maybe I am a poor person to get an opinion from!
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

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