Category Archives: eBird

Say goodbye to BirdLog and hello to eBird Mobile!

From BirdsEye Nature Apps:

BirdLog for Android retires on Monday, December 14

BirdLog for Android was recently replaced by eBird Mobile. In advance of this release, we reached out to BirdLog users to inform everyone that support will soon end for BirdLog, and we are writing with a final reminder. That time is nearing; BirdLog for Android will no longer be supported after Monday, December 14. Please download eBird Mobile in order to continue submitting your checklists from the field.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Submit all of your pending checklists from BirdLog. After December 14th you may not be able to submit them!
  2. Download eBird Mobile. It is FREE and the single app works globally.
  3. Log in and make sure it is working on your phone.
  4. Remove BirdLog from your phone so you don’t accidentally use it.

Read my thoughts on eBird Mobile for Android here.

Review: eBird Mobile for Android

eBird Mobile for Android was released about a week ago. I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 on hand, so I downloaded it for a test run. First impression – looks superficially similar to the iOS app and gets the job done by allowing Android users to submit observations from the field, but is different in a few ways. The process for submitting a checklist is similar to that of BirdLog, but seems a bit more clunky than the iOS app, which is smooth and streamlined.

The app follows this workflow (be sure to click on the photos in the gallery for a blown up screenshot of each step):

  1. Start a checklist – easy and simple.
  2. Choose a location – choose from a recent location, location from a map, create a offline checklist, choose a new personal location, choose a nearby hotspot, search hotspots by place, or choose a nearby personal location.
    1. A cool feature of this app, which is faster than it is in the iOS app, is that you can easily switch between list and map view when choosing a nearby hotspot.
  3. Choose date and time of checklist – this is a bit more clunky than it is in the iOS app, but is easy enough.
  4. Tallying species is as easy as tapping the area left of the species name. Doing so will give a “one” count for each tap and increase with additional taps. When actually tapping on a species to add details or high numbers, I was a bit turned off. There is a line for number observed, a box for choose “X” (which no one should do ever), and a comments section. I’m not sure why, but this feature in the iOS app seems much simpler and more appealing to the eye. This could be due to differences in iOS and Android systems. Additionally, there are tabs for all species ever recorded and also a “checked” species tab.
  5. Review and submit – the normal info, including are you submitting a complete checklist, observation type, number of observers, duration, distance, and checklist comments. The only thing missing here is the list of “checked” species, which is on the same page in the iOS app. Also, there is no tab/button on the screen to go back to the list of species. You have to use the phone’s “back” function.
  6. Submit!

Overall, I am very happy with this app from Team eBird. I look forward to future updates that make the app less clunky and hopefully more similar to the iOS app.

eBird Mobile for Android!

eBird Mobile (an app very similar to BirdLog and is taking the place of BirdLog) is now available for Android users in the Google Play store! Read more about the app over at eBird News.

eBird Mobile for Android - eBird - EN_Home_framed-270x482

Rail Status and Distribution in the lower Colorado River Valley

Note: I wrote this post back in 2013 or 2014, but never published it. I updated the eBird range maps and added song and call recordings from xeno-canto for each species. If you have any info to add, please do so in the comments. Thanks!

When birding a new place, it is helpful to have an idea on the status and distribution of various birds in the area. In this post, I’m going to discuss the distribution and identification of Ridgway’s, Virginia, and Black Rails in the lower Colorado River Valley (LCRV).

Ridgway’s Rail

ID: The largest of the three rails. Overall color is dull or grayish brown, but adults will have an orange-rufous neck and breast and have bold barring on flanks (Rush et al. 2012). The bill is long, and dusky-orange in color. Juveniles have a light gray-colored breast, no barring on the flanks, and the bill is dull gray, while the face is orange (Sibley 2003).

Habitat: Ridgway’s Rails prefer dense marsh vegetation, but will also occur in moderately dense cattail and bulrush marshes. (Rosenberg et al. 1991). Some water depth is necessary year round in order to provide optimal breeding and wintering habitat as well as residual mats of marsh vegetation (Eddleman 1989).

Territory Size: 0.12–3.59 ha – approximately 100 m x 100 m to 200 m x 200 m (Bennett and Ohmart 1978)

Status and Distribution: Ridgway’s Rails are uncommon to fairly common summer residents and breeders along the lower Colorado River (LCR) from the southern part of the valley north to Topock Marsh in Havasu NWR (Rosenberg et al. 1991). Out of the three rail species discussed here, the Ridgway’s Rail is reported on more eBird checklists than Black Rail, but less than Virginia Rail (See Figure 1. Below).

Calls and Function:

      • Kek-kek-kek-kek – primary male advertising call (Scott et al. 2012)
      • Clapper or Clatter – primary call given by paired birds during breeding season (Scott et al. 2012)

Clapper Rail - eBird - Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 11.49.12 PM

Virginia Rail

ID: Larger than Black Rail, but smaller than Ridgway’s Rail. Adults look similar to adult Ridgway’s Rails, but have a gray face rather than an all orange face. The bill of the adult is longer and thinner than Ridgway’s Rail and the breast and neck is a rich reddish color. The juvenile is extremely dark compared to juvenile Ridgway’s Rails, with dark blotches on the chest instead of a light gray-orange color (Sibley 2003). Virginia Rails apparently have more red on the bill than Ridgway’s Rails (Conway 1995).

Habitat: Freshwater wetlands with shallow water, emergent cover, and moist soil (Conway 1995).

Territory Size: No good estimate

Status and Distribution: Virginia Rail is a fairly common and local spring and summer breeder in the LCRV (Rosenberg et al. 1991). From March through June in Arizona and California, Virginia Rails are reported on a higher percentage of eBird checklists than both Clapper and Black Rails.

Calls and Function:

      • Kiddick call – primarily given by males and given during a brief time in spring (Conway 1995)
      • Duetting grunt – given by pairs and is most frequent (Conway 1995)
      • K-K-K-Keerr – probably a primary breeding call giving infrequently in early spring and may be similar to Kek-burr call given by Ridgway’s Rail females (Conway 1995)
      • Juvenile birds give one-parted squeaks

Virginia Rail - eBird - Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 11.49.41 PM

Black Rail

ID: A tiny rail, the smallest of the three discussed here. All-dark bird with white speckling on the back and a rufous nape. Also note the short, pointed tail, small, black bill, and red eye (Sibley 2003). NOTE – You will probably never see this bird.

Habitat: Freshwater marshes, wet meadows, and flooded grassy vegetation. Generally breeds in areas with shallower water than Ridgway’s and Virginia Rails. For Arizona, Black Rails prefer a water depth of < 3 cm (Eddleman et al. 1994).

Territory Size: 0.4 ha – approximately 20 m x 20 m (Rosenberg 1991)

Status and Distribution: Probably the species of rail you are least likely to detect throughout the LCRV as the population was estimated to be 100-200 individuals (Repking and Ohmart 1977).

Calls and Function:

      • Primary Vocalization: ki-ki-kerrr given during breeding season; presumably by male (Eddleman 1994)
      • Agitated Vocalization: growling call grr-grr-grr, repetitive brrr, or churr, churr, churr (Eddleman 1994)
      • Nest Vocalization: females give a scolding call of a rapid series of soft, high-pitched, nasal ink-ink-ink-ink or nk-nk-nk-nk; males give a kik-kik-kik-kik or kuk-kuk-kuk-kuk in a similar manner (Eddleman 1994).

Black Rail - eBird - Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 11.50.04 PM


According to all-time eBird records for Arizona and California, Virginia Rails are reported on a higher percentage of checklists than Ridgway’s and Black Rails. Ridgway’s Rails are reported more frequently than Black Rails, which is probably due to small population size.

Figure 1. Frequency of eBird Checklists Ridgway's, Virginia, and Black Rails are reported on in California and Arizona from the beginning of March through June.

Figure 1. Frequency of eBird Checklists Ridgway’s, Virginia, and Black Rails are reported on in California and Arizona. Image provided by eBird ( and created 2 December 2015.

Literature Cited

Bennett, W. W. and R. D. Ohmart. 1978. Habitat requirements and population characteristics of the Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris yumanensis) in the Imperial Valley of California. Univ. of California, Lawrence Livermore Lab. Livermore, CA.

Conway, Courtney J. 1995. Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: doi:10.2173/bna.173

Eddleman, W.R. 1989. Biology of the Yuma Clapper Rail in the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico. Final Report, Interagency Agreement No. 4-AA-30-02060. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Yuma Projects Office, Yuma, Ariz., 189 pp.

Eddleman, W. R., R. E. Flores and M. Legare. 1994. Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:

Repking, C.F., and R.D. Ohmart. 1977. Distribution and density of black rail populations along the lower Colorado River. Condor 79:486-489.

Rosenberg, K. V., Ohmart, R. D., Hunter, W. C., and Anderson, B. W. 1991. Birds of the Lower Colorado River Valley. Univ. Ariz. Press, Tucson.

Rush, Scott A., Karen F. Gaines, William R. Eddleman and Courtney J. Conway. 2012. Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:

Sibley, David A. 2003. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America. New York: Knopf. Print.

One-a-Day eBird Challenge – How are you doing?

Robert introduced the One-a-Day eBird Challenge a year or two ago. Since then, I have made submitting an eBird checklist a top priority each day. I submit checklists from my yard, gas stations, grocery store parking lots, state parks, etc. You get the point, right? It’s not hard to submit one checklist each day, especially with BirdLog for iOS and Android. BirdLog is a necessity and should be on every birder’s smartphone. Check out Robert’s review of BirdLog here.

Continue reading here…

BirdsEye Hotspots App – Get it!

I’ve been beta testing BirdsEye Hotspots for iOS, a co-produced app by BirdsEye Birding and Nemesis Code, for a few weeks now. I use it multiple times a day when I’m birding. It comes in handy when I’m not entirely sure where a birding hotspot is located or when I want to bird somewhere new. The app is essential for a fun-filled, smooth day of birding! (P.S. This will be crucial for navigating to spots during a Big Day.)








BIRDSEYE HOTSPOTS: Worldwide hotspot finding

BirdsEye Hotspots is a simple tool for birders. It makes it quick and easy to find nearby hotspots so you can quickly get there and start birding!

  • County listers rejoice! Always know which county you are in and which county your hotspots are in.
  • Get driving, walking and transit directions to any hotspot worldwide in your favorite apps. Hotspots currently works with many of the popular map and navigation apps.
  • Link directly to the new BirdsEye apps to view local abundance charts of the birds found at each hotspot. (requires BirdsEye NA or any of the other regional BirdsEye apps)
  • One tap button to copy the latitude and longitude of a hotspot or your current location to quickly share with others.
  • Local weather data – you need to know what the conditions will be when searching for your next birding spot. That spot that is excellent in sunny conditions can be brutal when its stormy while rainy weather can prompt you to head to nearby lakes to look for waterfowl.
  • Sunrise and sunset times so you always know how much more daylight you have to twitch that rarity.
  • World wide access to eBird hotspots

Note: Requires WiFi or data connection to access hotspot data.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Every birder should own this app. For $4.99 you can’t beat it!

Get the app here!

The NEW BirdsEye!

We use BirdsEye, a lot. Well, you can say we are addicts. The old BirdsEye is awesome and the NEW BirdsEye looks to blow it out of the water. Here’s why:

“To address these problems we have embarked on a ground-up rebuild of BirdsEye and are adding some cool new features in the process. In this first version the new BirdsEye already provides some useful new features not in the original, including:

  • import eBird life and year lists for any country, state or county
  • display local abundance charts for all nearby birds based on a radius that you select from 1 to 50 miles
  • see which of the local birds are “needs” (i.e. they aren’t already on your list)
  • provide regional versions covering much of the world
  • you can change the naming convention for birds from a large number of eBird naming options including US, UK and Australian English, Scientific, Spanish and French

The latest version of the New BirdsEye NA and regional versions are now roughly on par with the Original BirdsEye, although there are pros and cons. The latest update of BirdsEye NA in the App Store includes the ability to browse Hotspots and see recent “Notable” sightings near you.

We have not made a final decision on how to roll it out to existing BirdsEye users. The issues here are somewhat complex. First, it isn’t ready yet. Second, it will never be identical, and some people love the original just like it is, so we think many people will not want to change. Third, the model of selling apps is probably not sustainable for us in this niche market of high-end birding apps. We cannot afford to improve and support our app as much as we need to, despite relying mostly on low-paid and/or volunteer labor. At some point I believe that we need to transition to a subscription approach and the rollout of the new BirdsEye may be the right time to do that.  

We want to roll it out for Android when we have sufficient financial support to do that.  Supporting Android is likely to be unprofitable, but it is important for our mission of promoting eBird, especially among younger users and birders outside of the US.”

All information used with permission from the BirdsEye Birding Team