The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds is undoubtedly the most innovative avian reference guide to come along in many years. In fact, the guide represents such a bold leap forward that reading it makes one wonder what the future of bird guides holds. This is why we asked readers to share their views on the NEXT big step in bird guide design, philosophy, or technology as part of our Fun, Fun, Fun Crossley ID Guide Giveaway. This is the first entry in a three-part series discussing those predictions:
Almost every prediction about bird field and reference guides agrees that the future is digital and portable, featuring full multimedia capability…
I think the future of field guides is advancing the digital versions. While there are a few (nat geo, sibley, etc.) I can’t get a good feel for them (I still prefer my book version). Although, I do like having bird calls handy. I think the digital guides need to improve in user-friendliness.
The future definitely will be electronic. A complete guide would have pictures, audio, and video (something like Thayers birding software).
Based on the many references to how Apple products impact the future of birding guides, one has to wonder if Steve Jobs isn’t a bird watcher himself!
I think the future of ID guides is video. With the availability of ipods, etc. videos of the birds would help out tremendously.
The future of ID guides in is handheld digital format. Ipods are the big thing and can hold a lot of information you can’t possibly have in a physical guides.
The future of ID guides is digital. With ipods and iphones you can carry a lot more information than multiple books. Digital guides still have to reach a better caliber (in my opinion) to really make books obsolete however.
Digital guides (for ipod, etc.) are the future of field guides. Not only are there super portable and contain loads of information, they include audio of bird calls/songs.
A field guide run on an ipod or phone that not only shows pictures and audio butgives video of diagnostic behavior. This and giving more audio options such as chip calls.
The future of ID guides will be electronic (ipod, iphone, etc.) with (hopefully) more extensive audio (chip notes, non-vocal sounds, etc.). Video clips would be good too.
Some visionaries have a clear idea of how various technologies might converge to facilitate field birding…
An online version (and for the iPad)
- with sound files (including spectrograms) of birdsong associated to the pictures, and videos of birds in flight.
- The birdranges geotagged (I love GoogleEarth), so that when you visit an area, say Braddock Bird Center on Lake Ontario, you get the list of sitings for that site, I.e. a kind of where-to-eat app for birds. And in .kmx files
- as well as the bird counts, if available for an area, done each fall and spring
- and information about the status of the birds that come through a given area
Others understand that, in this brave new world of birding, there will be customization…
The increasing ubiquity of handheld computers like iPhones and Kindles and the imminent completion of the Handbook of the Birds of the World will create a new kind of guide. With a library of every single bird on Earth at their disposal there will be an app that allows you to “create your own guide” based on your location. Off to the Amazon? Download the relevant images and info into a location specific guide. No need to page through dozens of plates of similar looking species anymore. On a day trip to Oregon for business? Access all the local birds straight off the web.
And some lovely dreamers imagine the day that technology will once and for all solve ALL of our field identification issues…
I think the future bird books will have some sort of digital component that you can take out into the field and identify birds. Perhaps a chip that you insert into your digital binoculars, look at the bird, and it identifies it for you.
Many thanks to everyone who submitted their predictions about the future of birding field guides. How do you imagine technology will impact the future of bird field and reference guides?
While watching a bird watching program this weekend on TV, the host was using an Audubon Mobile app. http://marketplace.audubon.org/videos/audubon-mobile-apps-demonstration So I went online and checked them out. They run $9.95 for an Android application, which I was tempted to get. If I were traveling from my local area, I certainly would invest the few bucks for this mobile phone app. Personally, I do believe that is where the future of digital birding guides is heading. People are using their phones more and more like personal computers now days.
Thank you for your continued informational blog. I really enjoy visiting. Chirp chirp.
In addition to my prediction about HBW creating a customisable guide, I also predict that 10,000 Birds will release an app. It will be called 10,000 Brags. People will be able to blog their latest best sighting while still in the field, which will show up in the side bar above “RECENT POSTS”.
I may be growing old, but I am very suspicious of the “digital age” because we become more and more reliable on this very delicate technology. I would NOT like to see old fashioned book field guides to vanish for a few simple reasons:
It takes a whole lot of effort to render a field guide completely useless. It takes only a single raindrop at the right place to render an electronic device completely useless.
If you are in remore and/or dangerous places, like Somalia or Miami, and you get robbed, a book or (paper) notebook will likely be left in your posession by the robbers (saving all of your bird observation notes), an electronic device will be taken – that’s what they are after.
Where do you charge your batteries in Namibia’s Kaokoveld during a longer trip away from lodges and hotels? Where is your internet access along the upper reaches of the Rio Negro?
How do you operate a tiny touch screen in -13°F with your numb fingers stuck in thick gloves? Will any electronic equipment even work under these temperatures?
It is easy to lose a small and tiny computer-thingy during a hike, it can just fall out of your poket when you bend over a creek to have a drink. A field guide? Nope, you’ll usually notice that.
How much will it cost you to replace a broken electronic device, possible abroad during your birding trip, and how easy or not is it to find a shop selling these things in, say, Burkina Faso. How many days of your trip are you willing to lose? A field guide won’t cost you a fraction of this and you can usually find a book store in any of the world’s larger settlements.
If you want to promote birding abroad in areas where this is needed, you can show locals a bird book and they’ll be interested in the birds it shows. Show them the same birds on an electronic device and they’ll only be interested in the electzronic devise.
Okay, and so on, and so on.
Look, I am very partial to modern digital technology (if I had the money, that is), but it just isn’t the answer to EVERYTHING in life. You just can’t replace everything with digitally-run components. Life just can’t be all about I’s and O’s.
I’ll turn 40 in a couple of weeks. This might explain this comment.
One of my ideas of heaven is to have every possible fieldguide available on something like an I-pad. I mean fieldguides for mosses, lichens, moths, wildflowers, ferns, birds, repties, etc. etc. It never fails that if I have my mushroom guide with me, I see some unusual fern that I can’t ID (and vice versa). Sometimes even a digital photo doesn’t help me ID the plant, mushroom, fern, whatever, when I finally get back to my hardcopy guide. I’d so love to have all that info at my fingertips when I’m in the field.
I agree for the most part with Jochen. My trusty sibley (east edition) fell one day under water from the boardwalk of magee marsh in Ohio, and although it took me a couple of hours to patiently dry every single page of the great book, I am still using it nowadays.
Taking care of cameras and optics is quite enough a challenge for me, that I don’t have to deal with another water and cold sensitive item.
I am expecting technology to make my life easier, not more complicated. I want good Binoculars that reduces hand vibration, that weight very little, and that can withstand underwater immersion, a drop from a cliff, and the teeth of my 2 years old, without loosing alignement. I want a camera that can focus automatically on the warbler, not the tree. I want some mp3 CD’s (or files)that does not miss flight calls. I want a pen that can write on any kind of paper, under pouring rain, or by -10F, and that does not need sharpening.
Then, maybe we can talk about how a IPAD or other device could improve my skills on the field
Snowing here in Michigan.
Although i agree with Jochen and I’m such a non gadgety person i don’t even have a mobile phone, I did put together (for a compatition organised by WWF and Sony) an idea for a fully integrated bird id kit, which would enable the birder to id birds in the field. The judging panel all thought it was a great idea but it didn’t win because the idea is being patented currently in the US – so someone else had totally independently come up with the idea. I don’t think it will supersede field guides in book format, at least not yet.
I have quite a number of bird books and guides and I find parts of all of them very useful. I don’t see a problem with carrying my trusted field guide along with an electronic version. Field guides can’t produce bird calls, which to me is the missing piece. Using a field guide to identify the birds I can’t see is pretty difficult for me. IPods, etc are easy to carry so when an electronic guide comes out that I think is worth the money I’ll be carrying both. I don’t believe it’s ether, or…
ABOUT BIRDING CLASS 101, I would be interested what experienced birders thought about the site. Thank you.
S. Robert. Filer