Scythebill main screen.

Scythebill is a desktop application for birders to keep track of their life lists and birding records. With Version 13.5.0 (January 2017) Scythebill taxonomies include Clements, IOC, mammals, butterflies and herps for several regions. Users can add observation for any locations and add ancillary data and photos to each record. It provides reports for “total ticks” and finding your best “big day” or “big year and well as species level overviews. Scythebill is a cross-platform application (Java based) that runs on Windows, MacOS and Linux.

Scythebill is aimed at the birder whom wants to keep track of all their observations and likes flexible reporting capabilities.

Scythebill is available in a single version and is provided at no cost to it users.

Installation of Scythebill was easy. A wizard helps the user with installation.

Taxonomic Support

Scythebill supports two global taxonomic lists (Clements and IOC) for birds as well as other mammals, plants, insects, etc. A few of the non-bird taxonomic lists and checklists cover species in North America.  Scythebill’s help details how to add additional checklists and make changes as needed.  As new taxonomic lists become available, Scythebill aims to release these lists with updates within days of becoming available. The IOC list, for example is released several times throughout the year and Scythebill aims to quickly provide these updates. The table below compares eBird and Scythebill.

Feb 2, 2017 eBird Scythebill
Birds Clements 2016 Clements 2016
IOC 7.1
Butterflies No Yes – NA and UK
Herps No Yes – Australia
Mammals No Yes – World
Plants No See notes
Other eBird only focuses on birds NA Dragonflies
Fix lists No Yes
 Notes Includes additions such as:
Identifiable Sub-specific Group
User can add their own taxonomies. The help section provides detailed instructions.

Supports both Rock Pigeon (Feral)” and “Rock Pigeon (Wild form)”

Integration with eBird

Scythebill handles data exchange with eBird very well.

Scythebill 13.4.1 supports import of eBird’s “Download my Data” (aka all your observations), Individual checklists and Life List format. The program exports to eBird’s record format. Import of eBird files is a straight forward process. As the import progresses, the program will ask the user for input if a species is mismatched. Any future references to the same species during the same import function are handled in the same fashion as the first instance. New locations are automatically added by continent, country, state, and county (if available). This results in a very clean location structure. Adding a set of 15,993 records took one second to complete! The import process is extremely efficient.

Importing eBird’s individual checklists is easy. If the file contains a location that does not yet exists in Scythebill, the program will open a add location window. This windows interacts with eBird and shows a map of this new or existing eBird hotspot location. Species mismatches are handled in the same fashion as the eBird Download my Data import.

A cool feature of Scythebill is the check for duplicate records. During import of eBird data, Scythebill checks if observations already exists and flags them as duplicates, allowing the user to proceed or cancel the import.

Scythebill allows users to create eBird compatible checklist using the record format. Required eBird protocol information is entered as part of entering the observations, very much in the same way as eBird does.  Generating the eBird export file, the user must do at the end of entering observations, or go back to “Enter sightings” or “Show Reports”. 

Data Entry

Data entry window Scythebill (click to open)

Entering observations in Scythebill follows a well thought out multi-step path that resembles eBird’s approach. First the user needs to specify the when, where, and eBird protocol (an optional field) and finally the observations. Observations can be entered quickly using the keyboard entry or checklist approach. The keyboard entry approach is essentially a smart search process that list all species that match the (partial) species name your entered text string or banding code. For each species, you can enter comments, add photos, sex, heard only, and breeding code. At the same time the program let you know if the selected species is new for the list or region. Reading the manual and getting acquainted with the various keyboard shortcuts will speed up the data entry. Without these shortcuts, entering the count is a slow process. Data entry is very fast and with the help of keyboard shortcuts and little mouse interaction is required.

New locations can be specified as part of the sightings entry. The program allows users to use Google maps or eBird hotspot locations to be used/selected for your new locations. Existing locations can be refined using the map interface combined with Google and eBird hotspot searches.

Scythebill supports import of several CSV  formats from other listing programs including Avisys, Birdbase, Birdlasser,, and Ornitho.

Mobile Version

Scythebill does not have a mobile version. Scythebill, however, does support import from several programs (eBird, Observado, Ornitho, and BirdLasser) that have mobile applications.


Scythebill reports and data analysis functions consist of several browse options that provide increasingly more detailed information. Users can browse by species or location and as needed refine the data they are working with by applying selection criteria. Scythebill has 14 different selection criteria (date range, location, IUCN, photographed, subspecies, etc.) that can be combined to generate a report. A report in this instance is a dynamic list of species or locations. For example, if you would like to list only IUCN red list species that are endangered, Scythebill allows you to set up these criteria and show you your list. Species, lifer and family total are listed above the species or location columns. All reports can be exported to a text file, eBird or a spreadsheet for further analysis. In every report you can drill down to the individual observation as needed.

A few special reports are available, including total ticks, a big day/year report and a map. The total Ticks display your current Tick score, and you can refine this score using selection criteria. A big day/year report is available too. This report lists all your “big days & years”. When running a big year report and you birded only at a single location in that year, Scythebill will include this in the report.

The last special report is a world map. This map depicts all potential lifer (count only) that you can see in each country around the world.

The table below compares Scythebill with eBird. Scythebill offers a large variety of report, due to the selection criteria (14 all together that can be combined) to generate reports. Big day reports are part of Scythebill.

Report eBird  Scythebill
Life List
World Life/Year/Month Life/Year/Month/Day
Continent Life/Year/Month Life/Year/Month/Day
Country Life/Year/Month Life/Year/Month/Day
State Life/Year/Month Life/Year/Month/Day
County Life/Year/Month Life/Year/Month/Day
Location Life/Year/Month Life/Year/Month/Day
ABA Region Life/Year/Month Life/Year/Month/Day
ABA Ticks Life/Year/Month Country/State/County
Yard Totals “competitive” yard birding Life/Year/Month/Day
Charts Multiple species abundance
Single species frequency/group size/average/abundance/high count/totals
Species World lifer
All-time First/Last Region/County/Hotspot/IBA All-time first/last for any location
Big Year/Day/Month Big year/day
Checklist (observations for a single date/time/location) Location via report and selection
Checklists (printable) Location/Hotspot Yes

Noteworthy Features

Scythebill may not be as loaded with features as several of the other listing programs, but it still packs a punch. A few features of interest are:

The interface and application are simple and easy to use, it is easy to navigate around, and discover what this program offers.

World lifer map that shows by country the number of potential lifers you can get.

Species list which lists locations and date species have been recorded. You also can quickly access any of your individual species observations for review or edits.

From the Vendor

342 carefully curated checklists for (nearly) all the countries of the world, as well US, Australian, and Canadian states/provinces, and the reporting you can do for that as well (e.g., what species would be lifers for me in Bermuda;  what would be new for my ABA list in Nova Scotia excluding rarities).

Last updated 02/02/2017

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