In a crazy attempt to improve cataloging our bird sightings, the Birdfreak Team purchased Birder’s Diary v3.6. We bought it through the American Birding Association at a price of around $134. With that price we purchased the World license with Clements Checklist 2005.
My first impression was not that great – the product came in a jewel case with the title “North American” crossed out and hand-written with “World” edition.
It immediately looked a little “home-made”, especially because the CD was a generic, non-named burned version of the software. I loaded the CD fearing the worst. Luckily, the program is not an impression on the packaging. I’ve only had Birder’s Diary loaded on the laptop for a couple weeks now and I’ve pretty much mastered all the features.
Entering bird names is a breeze but you first need to set up a few things like: observers, birding locations, and trips. Once you’ve outlined all this, for example – I entered my name, Rock Cut State Park under Illinois and the trip for our 72-hour birding – entering birds sighted is fairly easy and straightforward. You can type parts of the name or use a checklist with narrowed down birds for your area. There is also a voice-entry method but I’ve yet to mess with that (I’m a fast typer).
You can also have multiple observers, a handy feature for us doing team and solo birding.
The reporting is probably the best feature of Birder’s Diary and there are way to many options to explain fully here. You can print out lists of birds at a particular place, birds you’ve seen in an area, birds you haven’t seen, and of course the all important Life List (plus much more).
The biggest problem I’ve had so far is trying to enter birds I’ve sighted from awhile back and to confirm whether or not I’ve already entered them. I haven’t run across any duplicate entries, so I don’t know if the program rejects them or not. A lot these problems are actually caused by the reason we purchased the software – to better organize our sightings.
We have notebooks, bits of scratch paper, and numerous computer files with bird sightings but they are all a mess. Now we finally have something to help us get organized and make our data more worthwhile.
On a funnier note, the program has a parrot (Petey) that helps you with tutorials and also notifies you of a new lifer. So far I find this to be comical and actually a bit fun – it is nice to get a little recognition for a new bird. The parrot pronounces words fairly well although flycatcher sounds like “flick-a-chur”. You can always turn off the option if it gets too much.
Final recommendation – without comparison to any other bird listing programs, I am impressed with Birder’s Diary and would recommend it to others. I originally was planning on getting AviSys, but they were doing software updates (so I couldn’t buy) and their website seemed unprofessional. Birder’s Diary has a small learning curve and I give it 8 1/2 feathers out of 10. (This would have been higher, but the price is a bit high, especially because you would need to pay more to license other lists like Butterflies, Mammals, etc. that they promote as being a feature of their program.)