Bird Journal (Wildlife Recording software)
Cost €44.99 / Year (for Premium) Try Bird Journal Premium for one month FREE!
or Free Version (with limitations)
Back in 2011 I was on the lookout for a decent wildlife recorder to house my records and I luckily found Bird Journal by Bluebird Technology Ltd. If any of you read that review, which you can still see it here, you will know I waxed lyrical about it and found little to criticise. As that review covers most of the data input functionality, I will talk mainly about the addition of newer technologies in this review.
Well that was v2 and Bluebird Technology Ltd have gone from that version to v3 and now v4. And it is not just as good but better than its previous incantations. Not that it does what it is meant to do, for the most part, better than v2, although there are some improvements that I will come to later. No, it is that Bluebird have taken modern communication and storage methods and run with them, to the degree that it will make any techie Naturalist walk around with a big grin on their face.
When you load the new version and open it for the first time, it takes all your entries and settings from the old version, so that when you enter the new version you feel right at home, this for me is a plus, I hate it when new versions of software I use change dramatically with every new release.
Data entry is much the same, which means you can carry on as usual. One of the features that is new in the data entry is the GeoTag, which allows you to pin a Google map to show the location of sightings, this is a nice touch and provides much needed information to official Trusts who use recording data for statistical records and habitat research.
But now we come to the new good stuff.
When you purchase Bird Journal Premium you can download to all your devices (providing they are yours) with the same account details. V4 is now available for Windows PC, Android and iPhone/iPad. There is no Mac version as yet and I could not comment on, if or when one might become available.
We now come to the best bit. Although you still backup your records to you PC, you also have your records constantly saved to the Bird Journal Cloud from all your devices. This is such a nice touch because it means that with one click of the now present Sync button in v4, you have your new records for the day, that you recorded on your Smartphone (and foolishly left and turned off at Aunt Agatha’s house when you dropped in for tea on your way home), at your fingertips.
Next is the new Library (& button) , which, replaces the older Edit Checklist button, takes you to the Library area where all the available Taxonomies (former Checklists) are shown. They are not all pre installed, only those that you were using in the older version. Next to the title of each Taxonomy is either a tick in a green circle to indicate it is installed or an install button, which when pressed, will install that Taxonomy (and quickly too) from the the Bird Journal Cloud.
In the Library section there is an Update area, this will only be populated when new Taxonomies become available as they are published. Which is a nice link to the next subject.
Staying in the Library, you will still see an add new list button. So as with the old, the new version still allows you to create your own Taxonomies, either for your own use that you can build as you go along, or to “Publish”.
The Publish feature is one that I have tried, as I was asked by Bluebird to publish from the new version (as were others I would think) my Taxonomy on Fungi of Europe, which I made available back in 2012 and stored with other peoples on the Index section of the Forum.
A nice touch when you are ready to Publish your new Taxonomy, is an area for you to enter Release Notes. I found this helpful as it allowed me to request that others, who use the Taxonomy, report back to me if they find any mistakes or know of any amendments to the information in the species list. Once your new Taxonomy is published, it is checked by Bluebird for any errors or, one would imagine, any inappropriate language. Now published, it will become available in the update section ready to install for whoever desires it.
Filtering now. The Data search Filter, to search for specific Species, recording dates or anything else you are searching for is much improved. The old filter was a Little limited and small niggles like the species dropdown are now quicker to use. Now, if you choose a date before the species, it shortens the dropdown to only show species recorded on that date. The filter is one area though, I hope will improve more over time. I would like to see the option to choose more than 1 Property, so you could, for example, choose not just a particular Observer but also one of your custom properties, like Moth trap or Wine rope when searching for moths caught by that person using that particular trapping method.
Lastly Export. V4 comes loaded with the default export file type of “Bird Journal Record Format” but can be added to from the Library section, where you will find both, “Bird Track Record Format” and “eBird Record Format”.
One can only hope that Bird Journal will become the standard for record submission and we will soon see other options to add to the Export Format, like, “Linnaean Record Format”, “BTO Record Format”,” RSPB Record Format” and so on.
One more thing to mention with the Premium version, is the ability to gain yourself up to 12 months free use of the software. When logged on to your account on the Bird Journal website, you have the option to share links to BJ across social media or through Email…or any other method you can think of. If you get people to join you are rewarded with free subs, the more you get to join the closer to 12 months free it will get you.
I know what you are thinking, what about the poor person who is the 7 Billionth to pay for BJ, they will have no way of gaining free subs. I think however, by that time Bluebird Technology Ltd, will offer the 7 Billionth member a free lifetime membership?
To finish, I will mention that there is a Free Version of Bird Journal but with limitations, it lacks, in depth analysis features and the full Library access and limits you to one country, but you can still export, share and sync across all devices.
an english birder in france