My plan was to wait and see if I could convince my good lady I could afford it. Not long after this I received a mail from the producers asking if I would like a review copy. Obviously having seen the app and already wanting it I jumped at the chance. Well after a couple of weeks use (at home playing and in the field) I now feel in a good place to post my review (I always want to try and get some real use out of something before I jump to review it).
Bird Songs Sunbird Images App – Review
When I first downloaded the app I was impressed by a few things firstly the size of the file, I assumed with 2817 songs it might take up some room it didn’t (it is 1.42GB but for all this that isn’t much), secondly was how easy it was to use, I’ve seen some bird apps that are just over complicated, with this you navigate by bird family and then select the bird you want. Each of the 802 species (yes 802 species songs/calls are covered) then has either the birds song call or a mixture of both, as well as and image or two, sonograms and spectograms so comparisons can easily be made. You can choose which track (song or call) and then choose which sub track to play or play them all, you can even play them on a loop.
But that is far from all, each bird also has a description (detailing taxonomy, description, size, habitat, breeding season and status details), a link to a Wikipedia page and you can add them to a list (I’ve not used this element, as I use another app for that side of things), and some have a similar species guide that you can click to compare.
Best of all once downloaded there is no need to connect to the net (apart from to access the wiki links), and most impressive of all is that updates are free, and I’m lead to believe this includes a massive update of other sound recordings from the same people including a flight calls CD.
So far I have found the app really easy to use. Finding the bird I want to hear the call of is as simple as could be, then playing the recordings works a treat (simple and loud enough for me to hear).
I’ve tested this both at home when playing about and out in the field to try and see if I can find the call I just heard and both work well. I’ve no use for sonograms etc. as it isn’t something I a) deal with or b) have a clue about (a lot of that kind of thing goes over my head I’m afraid).
When it comes to the descriptions I must again admit to not really using them as I have other apps (the Collins Bird app) which I use for ID purposes when needed. But from what I have seen (and I have had a good look) these seem very good. And the photos are excellent.
The Sound Files
Of course the real reason for downloading this app is for the bird song and calls and these are great in many ways. They are clear, and excellent quality. My only minor quibble here is that there is little information on what the actual calls are or where they were recorded.
Do they relate to flight calls, breeding birds etc. This may not at first seem an issue but there are some birds where the call will differentiate subspecies (Yellow Wagtail for example), so without that information then you cannot really rely on the app to distinguish the sub species.
Is this a problem? Well maybe but it depends on what you are using the Bird Songs Sunbird Images App to identify. If this information was included then the app would be even better.
Other Down Sides
Now I hate to write bad things about things (I usually try to look for the positives) but there is one massive downside to this app for those of you out there thinking of purchasing it, and that, I’m afraid to say is the cost.
Retailing at £54.99 it is a very expensive app.
Now you can justify the price when you realise there are so many songs and calls. But I doubt many people will want to pay that huge price. I understand that if you were to buy the 17 set CD collection it would cost you more but the fact is that many people (myself usually included) will balk at paying high prices for an app. And there is competition in the form of the Collins Bird Guide app, which has bird calls and comes in at a much lower price. This is the only downside though to what is an excellent app.
Firstly don’t be put off by the price, buying this app will give you access to huge amounts of data and bird calls at your fingertips and for many of us this is worth it’s weight in gold, everything works well and is easy to use, and you wouldn’t be able to find anything this good for less.
The Bird Songs Sunbird Images App does what you need from a bird call app (without being Shazam for birds which would be a dream for anyone like me who is rubbish with bird calls). Can be used in the field or at home (as preparation for days out). And has all the bird song from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
It is the most comprehensive tool you will find out there and is in reality well worth the money.
DISCLAIMER: I was provided with a free version of this app, but the words and thoughts are my own, I was free to write what I wished.
This app (and the Collins app) are the reasons I am sticking with my iPhone. It has helped me no end to identify birds by call alone, not least recent Hawfinches flying overhead.
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