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TECHNOLOGY FOR

BIRDERS: AN
INTRODUCTION
Tim Krynak, Tim Colborn, Betsey O’Hagan

April 9, 2019 (7:00pm-9:00pm)


BEFORE WE START

1. Introduction means Introduction


2. Meant to be interactive – your questions welcomed
3. Examples provided are not all inclusive
4. Many birding education sites available – not covered in detail
here
5. About the Speakers:
1. Tim Colborn
2. Tim Krynak
3. Betsey O’Hagan
AGENDA
1. Overview of Technology for Birders
a. Quick History of Birding
b. Common Current and Popular Birding Tools
c. Evolution of Birding Technology Tools
d. Technology Benefitting Conservation
e. Equipment Basics
2. Technology and Birding
a. Finding Birds
b. Identifying Birds
c. Field Guide Apps
d. Documenting Birds
e. Sharing Observations
f. Improving Your (Tech) Skills and Helping Conservation
3. Technology Implications for Birders
4. Future of Birding Technology
OVERVIEW OF TECHNOLOGY FOR BIRDERS
1. Why Talk About Tech for Birders?
• Learn – increase our knowledge of birding and birders
• Improve – increase our birding skills and enjoyment
• Help – support science and conservation efforts
2. History of Birding Technology
• Guns, glass and gizmos
• Common current technology tools
• Evolution of technology tools for identification and
documentation
• Technology benefitting birders through conservation
QUICK HISTORY OF BIRDING TECHNOLOGY
1. Guns, glass and gizmos
a. Pre-19th Century:
i. Birding observations throughout history (including references in
bible, native American culture, early observations in 1500’s through
1700’s traced to artists and authors like White, Catesby, and Bartram)
b. 19th Century:
i. Age of “Shotgun Ornithology” – use of guns to collect birds for
closer observation, study, and artistic reproduction (e.g., Wilson,
Audubon, Baird, Bendire, Xantus, and Coues)
ii. Glass devices allowed for viewing without taking (first field guide in
the US was Florence Merriam Bailey’s “Birds through an Opera
Glass” in 1889)
c. 20th Century:
i. Binoculars, telescopes (spotting scopes) and cameras became
more useful and prevalent in birding throughout the 20 th century
d. 21st Century:
i. Smartphones and cameras – commonly used birding technology
QUICK HISTORY OF BIRDING TECHNOLOGY (CONT.)
1. Evolution of Technology Tools for Identification and
Documentation
a. Field Guides in written form first published in the US in 1889
(Bailey), modernized by Roger Tory Peterson in 1934,
enhanced by Sibley, and now at least a half dozen N.A. guides
b. Bird song recordings began becoming available in the 1940’s
with recordings initially meant to help capture songs of
disappearing birds like Ivory-billed Woodpecker
c. Sturdier binoculars replaced opera glasses of the late 19 th
century. Mostly of German manufacture, they did not become
common until after World War 1.
d. Quality and abundance of binoculars, telescopes and cameras
for birding increased throughout the 20th century
COMMON CURRENT & POPULAR BIRDING TOOLS
1. Social media information sharing
• Facebook Groups – Birding Ohio, Ohio Chase Birds, ABA Rare Bird Alert,
et cetera
• Twitter messages or “tweets” - rare bird sightings, club announcements,
festival bird sighting sharing (BWIAB)
2. ebird
• Technology program/site/app that allows users to document and share
their sightings, aggregates information and allows for research
3. Field Guide Apps
• iBird, Sibley’s, Audubon, Peterson’s, National Geographic – all tools that
help us identify birds in the field and usually include bird diagrams,
photos, range maps, songs and calls, and other information
• Merlin – auto-identification tool (snap a photo and let Merlin help identify
the species)

NOTE: All these sites/tools/apps are available via mobile devices


EVOLUTION OF BIRDING TECH TOOLS (WHY?)
1. Technology is ubiquitous in our world today
• Mobile technology means improved ease and speed
2. Birding has increased in popularity – more people interested in this
activity means more perspectives on how it is to be enjoyed
• Many birders look to apply use of tools into their birding to increase its
enjoyment
3. Birding is often a social activity – social media apps are tools commonly
used to share information, opinions, news, photos, etc.
• Many birders, particularly younger birders, bring a more “connected”
perspective
4. Birding has a competitive aspect – big days, big years, World Series of
Birding
• Birding technology improves ability to find birds more quickly and more
effectively document them
5. Birding has a game aspect
• Birding technology allows birders to “play” more easily (as a corollary to
birding, Pokemon Go is impressive)
TECHNOLOGY BENEFITTING CONSERVATION?
1. Data Collection
• Technology leverages ability to collect and share data and use
results
2. Communication
• Technology can raise awareness of conservation issues and
volunteer opportunities
3. Education
• Birders can be converted into citizen scientists or enhance
their enthusiasm to help the cause
4. Connection
• Birding technology can increase the sense of connection
birders feel with conservation efforts
EQUIPMENT BASICS (BIRDING 101)
1. Binoculars
2. Scope
3. Smartphone
• May include camera and audio recording capability
4. Camera
• Point-and-shoot (usually compact, easy to use, permanent lens)
• Mirrorless (high image quality, lighter than DSLR, interchangeable
lenses)
• DSLR or Digital Single-Lens Reflex (high image quality,
interchangeable lenses, flexibility between manual and auto
control)
5. Less common
• Audio Recording Equipment (Recorder, Microphone, Parabola)
TECHNOLOGY AND BIRDING
1. Finding Birds
2. Identifying Birds
3. Field Guide Apps
4. Documenting Birds
5. Sharing Observations
6. Improving Your (Tech) Skills and Helping Conservation
TECHNOLOGY & BIRDING (FINDING BIRDS)
1. Historical Overview of Bird Finding/Sharing “Technology”
A. Telegraph (theoretical)
B. Letter
C. Phone Call
D. Phone Trees
E. Listserves
F. Social Media
G. eBird
TECHNOLOGY & BIRDING (FINDING BIRDS)
1. Social Media
A. Facebook Birding Groups by:
i. Rarity
• ABA Rare Bird Alert (birds included on a state/province review list,
not found on a state’s checklist, or has an ABA Rarity Code of 4 or
5)
• Ohio Chase Birds (rare or uncommon sightings in Ohio)
ii. Location
• Birding Ohio (allow birders to share sightings, pictures, videos, and
thoughts about birds in Ohio)
iii. Bird Family
• International Turaco Society
B. Twitter and Twitter-like Birding Groups:
i. Biggest Week in American Birding
ii. Sax Zim Bog (Telegram)
TECHNOLOGY & BIRDING (FINDING BIRDS)
2. eBird
A. Finding birds by “Explore” function:
i. Species Mapping
ii. Explore Hotspots
iii. Alerts
iv. Explore Regions
i. Overview
ii. Hotspots
iii. Recent Visits
iv. Illustrated Checklist
3. BirdsEye/GoBird (via eBird data)
TECHNOLOGY & BIRDING (IDENTIFYING BIRDS)
1. Tools that help us identify species via visual or auditory cues
2. Visual identifiers include question sets (habitat, shape, color,
etc.) to provide likely species and photo tool to submit and
receive likely species
3. Auditory identifiers include recording bird song/call and
analyzing for likely species
4. Technology Tools/Apps
A. Merlin (demo)
B. WhatBird (web page)
C. Song Sleuth (demo)
D. BirdNET – Upload bird recordings for analysis or Android App
E. Bird Identifier (RBSP) – British Birds (via Web or App)
TECHNOLOGY & BIRDING (FIELD GUIDE APPS)
1. Mobile apps that provide field guides on your smartphone/mobile
device
2. Functionality from paper field guide books are all included (species
photos or drawings, descriptions, range maps, comparisons, etc.)
3. Include ability to play bird songs and calls
4. Search and filter tools provide ability to determine likely species
5. Field Guide Apps
A. Audubon Birds (web page)
B. iBird Pro (web page)
C. National Geographic Birds (iPhone, iPad, iPod)
D. Peterson Birds (web page)
E. Sibley eGuide to Birds (web page)
TECHNOLOGY & BIRDING (DOCUMENTING BIRDS)

1. Tools that help us record or document species observed


2. Many commercially available software packages that allow
for documenting and managing records
3. Technology Tools/Apps
A. eBird (documenting birds via the “Submit” function)
B. Primarily Bird Software Packages: Avi-base, AviSys, Birdbrain,
Bird Journal, Birder’s Diary, Birder’s Notebook, MyBirding,
Scythebill, Swift, and Thayer’s
C. Nature Software Packages: iGoTerra, iNaturalist,
Observation.org, and Wildlife Recorder
TECHNOLOGY & BIRDING (DOCUMENTING BIRDS)
4. Tools/Equipment for Supporting Bird Documentation
A. Taking Photographs and Audio Recordings with Smartphones
B. Audio Recording Apps: RecForge II (Android), Field Recorder (Android),
RODE Rec (iOS – Apple)
C. Adding photos/audio recordings to bird records (eBird, iNaturalist,
software documentation programs, field guide apps)
D. Sharing Photographs on Social Media
E. Current Tech for photography and videography of birds:
A. Digiscoping (taking photos with smartphone through scope)
B. Nestbox/Feeder/Trail Cameras (including night vision)
C. Monocular with Smartphone Holder
D. Smartphone Telephoto lenses
TECHNOLOGY & BIRDING (SHARING OBSERVATIONS)
1. Social Media
A. Facebook Birding Groups:
• ABA Rare Bird Alert (birds included on a state/province review
list, not found on a state’s checklist, or has an ABA Rarity Code of
4 or 5)
• Ohio Chase Birds (rare or uncommon sightings in Ohio)
• Birding Ohio (allow birders to share sightings, pictures, videos,
and thoughts about birds in Ohio)
B. Twitter-type Groups:
• Biggest Week in American Birding
• Sax-Zim Bog (Telegram)
• eBird Reporting
TECHNOLOGY & BIRDING (IMPROVING “TECH” SKILLS)
1. History of Birder Participation in Citizen Science
A. Christmas Bird Counts
B. Breeding Bird Surveys
C. Great Backyard Bird Counts
D. Nest Box Monitoring
E. Sharing observations via eBird
TECHNOLOGY IMPLICATIONS FOR BIRDERS
1. Enhancing or Harming the Experience?
2. Too Much of a Good Thing

FUTURE OF BIRDING TECHNOLOGY


1. Continued Tool Improvement – size, speed, quality
2. Drone Technology
3. Advanced ID Technology:
A. Visual
• Applying Face Recognition Technology to ID Birds
B. Auditory
4. Improved Night Vision (InfraRed) Technology
5. Virtual Birding
FINAL THOUGHTS

1. Technology can never replace the natural experience of


birding (observation of birds through the eyes and ears)
2. Technology Improvements CAN enhance birding experience
3. Variety of tools and applications can add to the fun of birding
4. More and more users of technology means understanding, if
not using, the technology may allow greater sharing
5. Technology can support citizen science efforts and greatly
enhance conservation efforts
6. Final Questions?
CONTINUING EDUCATION PLAN
1. Mobile/Ebirding Basics: A “How To” Program
2. Field Session(s): to provide in the field practice
3. Advanced Mobile Birding: Technology Serving Science and
Conservation

THANK YOU!