Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Helpful Bird Watching Game

     I've only been birding a little more than one year and in that short span of time I have already witnessed swift changes in the technology that allows us to have an easier time identifying birds, sharing our observations, and organizing ourselves in the field. I am not one to use huge amounts of technology while actually birding, but once I get home I do enjoy it.  There is something about carrying the Sibley Guide book with me.  It is emblazoned with my struggles and is a symbol of my journey thus far.  The book tells a story of my adventures just from a quick glance.

     To make a long story short....times are a-changing.  the resources are at our fingertips like never before.

A Fun Birding App

     I wanted to share with everyone a helpful app I was fortunate to come across last weekend.  This app is a little different than most because it a birding app that is helpful and FUN.  It is a bird watching game called birdJam Twitch.  I know I'm a little late.  The app was released in 2009 but I was not on the scene at that point.  Nor does the game show any age.  It is just as useful as it was when it was released then.

     BirdJam Twitch is a fun way for birders to practice their identification skills when they do not have the time to be out in the field.  This bird watching game can be bought for $4.99 on the iTunes app store and I recommend it to each and every birder who has access to this platform.  Keep an eye on the price because it fluctuates.  I was lucky enough to get it for $2.99

     The game focuses on the identification of North American birds.  Before you start playing the game, you are able to pick a skill level varying from level 1 to level 10.  Next you need to pick a category of birds you are going to be identifying.  You have the option to pick a setting such as the forest, fields & grasses, marshes, and urban.  You can further divide these settings by opting for east or west depending on which location you would prefer to focus on. 

     If you do not want to pick your group by habitat, you have another option. You can select the type of bird you want to practice identifying.  BirdJam Twitch offers the following groupings to toy around with: Ducks and Geese, Shorebirds, Sparrows, Warblers.  If you want to get particular about location, again, you can opt for east or west for any of these groups.

     After you make these choices you can start to have some fun.  You get three minutes to identify as many birds as possible. A black screen appears and then small pixels start to fill the board, revealing small sections of the bird.  The lower the difficulty level, the larger the squares are that reveal the bird.  Along the bottom of the screen is where you choose which bird you think is being revealed.  If you are wrong, it lets you pick again but your bonus points at the end of the round will be affected.  What is good about this game is that it lets you review each bird that you got wrong at the end of the round.  This makes it a worthy learning tool.

     At the end of the round, your points are totaled based upon how many birds you answered correctly in the allotted time.  Bonus points are awarded for getting birds correct on the first try.  There is a high score list and you can submit your score for the category you chose to play.


 The Verdict

     The only thing negative I have to say about the game is the lack of variety of photos for each species.  There is essentially one photo for each because the system will mirror an image every so often to make it seem different.  Also the game sticks to showing photos of adult males (in the dimorphic species).  It would be much more challenging to throw in photos of juveniles and females.

So if you are tired of sitting and studying your field guide or your Crossley ID Guide, go ahead and make this purchase on iTunes. I would highly recommend it.  The game has good replay value and I think everyone could get something out of it. 

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