• REVIEW: Pizzey & Knight Birds of Australia Digital Edition

    Pizzey & Knight Birds of Australia Digital Edition (iPad App)

    If you are like me you’ve probably been excited and desperately waiting for the release ever since the ads started appearing in Birdlife Australia magazine months ago!
    So its great news that its finally here!

    Right from the start i have to confess that i have contributed some photos to the app. That communication led me to being involved in testing the iPad/iPhone version of the app over the last few weeks leading up to its release. However I have no vested interest in how well it sells etc. I am basing my review using the iPad version.

    Pizzey & Knight has always been my field guide of choice. I have long enjoyed the realistic , well drawn illustrations, and informative text. So to have it now in App form is fantastic.

    From the home page it has 6 main options (plus a link to the usual acknowledgements/glossary etc)

    1. Field Guide
    2. Bird Guide
    3. My Location
    4. Identification
    5. My Lists
    6. Birding Sites

    Field Guide:
    The first thing I really like is the ability to look through the illustration pages of the Field Guide just like you do in the printed book. So as opposed to scrolling from one species to the next you have the ability to see a few species at the one time. Same great and familiar illustrations laid out just like you are used to if you own the printed guide. Simple but brilliant.
    From there, clicking on the illustration brings up a number of options along a toolbar at the bottom which includes Similar Species, Bird Call, Bird Guide, Tick for your list, and Home.

    Bird Guide:
    Just as I was delighted to find the Field Guide pages, I was both surprised and delighted to find the ability to choose from a range of taxonomies! Options of C&B, IOC, Clements and Birdlife are a fantastic addition in this state of taxonomic flux. How often they are updated will be interesting to see.
    You can show the bird list in either alphabetic or taxonomic order.
    Tapping on the species in the list once brings up the similar icons as the Field Guide so you can quickly access either “Similar Species”, tick it on your list, play the call, or go to the field guide page.
    Double tapping takes you straight to the Bird Guide page which is where all the information is for each species.
    This includes nice big versions of the familiar and well drawn illustrations. A great addition to my Eighth Edition book is that the distribution maps have sub-species ranges numbered, and that the map is both colour coded and density coded, with a year graph (like the atlas) and different colour for Resident/Breeding Migrant/Vagrant etc.

    Obviously I am also thrilled with the inclusion of lots of great photos of each species. Whilst drawn illustrations are always the best base for a field guide, it is great to have both and the addition of photos once again adds another layer of depth and interest. Ian Montgomery is the major photographic contributor, along with Rohan Clarke however a few of our illustrious members also feature in the app which is great! Look out for images by Fatih Sam, Greg Oakley, Chris Ross, Tom Tarrant and others! Whilst we won't be retiring on the income from submitting photos, it is great that the contributors will actually be paid for their images which I count as pretty important and commendable in these times where we are all bombarded with requests for free usage.

    Bird Calls:
    One of the big features for alot of birders with the Morcombe App is the inclusion of bird calls. The Pizzey & Knight app also brings calls to the table - mostly recorded by Fred van Gessel. They are listed with location and type of call which is great and the playback also allows looping.

    My Location:
    I love the fact that my location is actually generated from the gps of your actual location rather than simply a large geographic area. It seems to work extremely well from the limited time i have had with it; although i was surprised when Grey Falcon didn’t appear on the list while we were on the Strzelecki Track last week - perhaps Sean Dooley had some part to play in this?

    There seems to have been alot of work put into this function with a whole lot of different parameters that you can select from including Location, habitat, shape, plumage. The app then gives you a list of likely candidates. You can then bring the suggestions up and compare them two at a time. A great function for beginners trying to get the hang of knowing where to start when searching for a new bird.

    My Lists:
    My LIst function seems to work well with the ability for sub lists that report to your parent “My List”. You can even sync your list to iCloud.
    GPS functionality and a number of options will no doubt delight most listers! The first thing i did was go through and tick all the species i have seen to make sure the numbers tallied

    Birding Sites:
    Yet another aspect where this “app” really becomes so much more than just a field guide is the addition of a large list of birding sites for each state and territory. Whilst its not going to replace Thomas & Thomas and lacks the same detail/mud maps etc of a specialised book like that, it does do a great job and includes websites and GPS co-ordinates.

    Cost: $69.95
    I'll be honest and say that when i first heard the price i was a bit surprised. Alot higher than the immediate "competition" in the Morcombe App. Some people may be turned off by this but the more i have used it, the more I realise how much I like it and the cost for me isn't an issue. I recently bought the Hema maps app for $120 (on sale) and couldn't believe i was spending so much on an "app"!
    But the moment I went out to remote western queensland and used it for its intended purpose of having super detailed topographical maps without any mobile reception, i realised how brilliant it was. Just because its on an ipad doesn't mean an "app" has to be simple and cheap. I think the Pizzey & Knight Digital Edition is the same. So much more than a simple app.

    Because of the complexity of the program, getting the hang of navigation/icons isn’t perhaps as immediate as one might be expecting. However this is quickly learnt and I for one would much prefer all the other added benefits of such great functionality and depth.
    This Digital Edition offers so much more than the printed guide but still offers that most basic Field Guide look and feel which i really like.
    Nice clean layout with ability for large text and images which will appeal alot to those without perfect eyesight.
    More species, more functions, photos, bird calls, location guides, exportable listing, complex identification help, all add to the value of the Pizzey & Knight Digital Edition.

    My new favourite app?

    (available now on iTunes)
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Pizzey & Knight Birds of Australia Digital Edition started by David Stowe View original post