For some, bird watching is an obsession; for others, an excuse to get into the great outdoors and really look around. Whichever category you fall into, odds are you know the Peterson Field Guides that help identify the winged marvels you’ve spotted. Now information from eight of those guides has been compiled and adapted for iPhone and iPad. And even those of us who don’t know a wagtail from a warbler will be impressed by the interface and seamless transition from this most non-techie pastime to iOS. Peterson Birds of North America is so intuitive that nothing beyond knowing how to observe, tap and type is required.
At launch, the app presents a legend explaining what each icon does, and right from there I was impressed. This app does much more than help identify birds and log their spottings. Once you get past the menu, icons representing various types of birds from around the world appear. These can be arranged in any order, and they have pictures for those who don’t know species. A touch on any brings up the traditional guide information and illustrations, along with a sighting log, Life List, maps showing migratory patterns and audio clips of the individual bird sounds.
The log and Life List can be viewed and edited in their own sections, and the field guide itself has pointers including bird watching basics, an ethical guide, habitats, nests, subspecies and detailed molting information. The app also allows users to enter their own photos from the camera roll to the logs. The app’s presentation is rich, yet still has a paper guide feel. If bird watching is your thing, or if you only want to know what just flew past your window, this app will fill the bill.