An iPhone 4S is an amazing tool for birders, as Sharon Stiteler has already let readers of 10,000 Birds know. And while using the iPhone in conjunction with optics is pretty cool, I have discovered that sometimes you don’t even need to use anything but the phone itself. Still pictures are fine but using the video function not only allows you to capture the bird or birds in motion but also their songs. For example, here is the video of a ton of birds working a treeline on Saturday morning in Chicago. It is certainly not an excellent video but you can see the quantity of birds in the trees and, more importantly, you can hear what is singing.
How many species do you hear singing? What species?
An even better example to try out the video capabilities of the iPhone was on a recent visit to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. There was some kind of insect hatch and the swallows were in a feeding frenzy. Though the phone wasn’t sensitive enough to pick it up we could actually hear the swallows’ beaks snapping shut as they tried to grab bugs. It was awesome.
Pretty cool, no?
Of course, if you want really good video of birds with an iPhone you will either need to have incredibly cooperative birds or you will have to do what Sharon has been doing and digiscope.
Have you been using your iPhone to bird? How?
In Sharon’s earlier article she mentioned the Meopta Meopix attachment which easily connects an iphone to a spotting scope or binocular eyepiece. The Meopix was released this week. There are 2 sizes at this point- geared for Meopta 10 X 50 bins and the Meopta S2 spotting scope, but really they will fit most 42 mm or 49 mm eyepieces. They slide securely over the eyepiece but can be easily removed so your scope isn’t “tied up” with clamps and screws.
Meopta will be adding some test shots and videos to their Facebook page (Meopta Sports Optics-Nature Observation) over the next few weeks.
Disclosure- I work for Meopta, but not in the consumer optics division!
Absolutely I use an iPhone when birding. I have 4 of the field guide apps. I have a favorite which I use first, but will also go to one or more of the others to compare range maps, field mark details, or listen to songs and calls to cinch an ID. I use these at home too when I quickly want to look up information about a species. I use Birdwatcher’s Diary for recording sightings, keeping lists, sending to eBird, etc. Finding a bird in a field guide app is usually as fast or faster than finding it in a book. And recording on BWD is much faster than writing on paper. I hold binoculars up with two hands, one of them also holding the iPhone. Once you get some practice, you can tick off sightings with one finger. That said, the reference books still get used, not out in the field but later. Just got a new telescope and may get an adapter for the iPhone camera and do some digiscoping.