Swift main screen.

Swift is a listing software that focuses on keeping track of your bird life lists. Unlike other programs Swift does not use the concept of locations, which can be aggregated to various life lists, Swift is “list” focused. All sightings are attached to lists in a user defined hierarchical order. In addition to tracking your lists, Swift enables the user to add photos to observations, export/import sightings to eBird, and generate a series of reports.

Swift is aimed at the casual and serious birders whom wants to keep track of all observations and keep track of dedicated life lists.

Swift is available as a free edition and a premium edition ($79). The premium edition allows you to store multiple photos per species, unlimited life lists, export data to eBird, access to all reports, checklists and charts. A 90-day trail of the premium edition is offered at no cost. Swift has a Swift Champions Program that engages users to participate in program feedback and enhancements. Users can earn points towards free versions and other gifts. After the purchase, you simply activate the Premium edition by entering your user name and password (no re-install is needed) and all sightings saved during the trial are moved to the full Premium edition.

Installation of Swift was easy. A wizard helps the user out with installation. Update notifications are provided and the program will help you getting the latest version (on 11/19/2016 that was 2.0.15) installed on your machine.

Taxonomic Support

Swift supports two taxonomic lists (Clements/Cornell) for birds.  No other checklists are supported. The table below compares eBird and Swift.

Nov 19, 2016 eBird Swift
Birds Clements 2016 Clements 2016
Butterflies No No
Herps No No
Mammals No No
Plants No No
Other eBird only focuses on birds N/A
Fix lists No No
 Notes Includes additions such as:
Identifiable Sub-specific Group

Integration with eBird

Swift handles import of eBird My Data Download and individual checklists reasonably well with several handy features.

The import process for eBird My Data Download is straight forward and contains solid routines to match species. Any issues you may have in the import dataset you will need to fix outside the Swift environment. Because Swift handles observations by “List” instead of location, you will either need to assign a list to each location or make a list for each location. The latter can be accomplished by setting the “List” column in the import window to e.g. “Location” or “County” or “State” column in the import file. As part of the import process Swift will automatically generate those new lists for you.  A main drawback of the import routine is the date format. Days and months must be a 2-digit number, e.g. January must be represented as “01”, not as “1”. This collides with eBird’s default date format. A great deal of time of the import is spend on matching species and other checks by Swift. Adding a subset of 15,993 records took about 34 minutes to complete when assigning to the county as the “List”.

Swift handles import of the eBird individual checklist nicely. Prior to importing a selected list, it will check for mismatched species, if “X” is present in the count column, and if a location needs to be matched to a list. Any mismatched species need to be fixed or will be ignored during the import process. One interesting quirk that I encountered is Swift’s requirement to store the eBird individual checklists in your “Download” folder, but once they are there the program automatically recognizes that files are there and ready for uploading. Unfortunately, no function is available to navigate to another folder to select a file for upload.

Unique to Swift is the eBird Synchronization tool. Swift’s eBird synchronization tool enables users to compare their eBird records with the data stored in Swift’s database. It is required that the user downloads all their eBird observations prior to running this tool.

Swift generates eBird compatible checklists using the record format, that users can use to upload into eBird. Required eBird protocol information is entered as part of the export process. A bit odd is it that all observation with a count of 1 will be reset to “X” (meaning seen). After you create the eBird import file, Swift will open eBird at the upload page, which is a neat touch and save the users having to do this manually.

Data Entry

Locations in the traditional way as most birders would think of do not exist in this package. Swift uses the term “list” instead. “Locations” and “lists” are interchangeable in this program. Each list can be organized in a hierarchical way so you can neatly end up with United States > Virginia > Loudoun > Home or so. Lists at the lowest level will contribute to lists at the higher levels. The “list” terminology is confusing at times, especially since all other packages separate “Lists” and “Locations”.

Data entry window SWIFT (click to open)

Data entry is fairly easy using keyboard entry (common name, banding code or smart search) or via a checklist. The checklist is prominently displayed, but the keyboard entry option (search by species or banding code) is a bit hidden in the interface. Adding the count is less intuitive in the checklist, but easily accessible via the keyboard entry. If you turn on the SWIFT count feature in the Settings screen (Checklist tab), a box appears as you check off species and you can quickly enter the number of individuals. Photos and other information can be added after you have selected all species you saw or after each species you added to the list. 

Swift allows users to enter observation based on a location specific checklist. This lists is based data that the users have added over time. Working with a shorter checklist, speeds up data entry as you may not need to scroll down long lists. The location specific checklist approach resembles eBird’s approach.

Swift supports import of formatted text files (CSV). As part of this process you will need to define species scientific name column (required), date, number, comments and set the date format. The import process itself is easy enough, but may require significant time when importing large files. Although, the next version 2.0.16 will significantly improve on this, I was told.

Mobile Version

SWIFT does not have a mobile version.


Swift’s approach to life lists and report deviates from the expected standard lists and summary reports in that they are interactive and are updated as you drill down in the list level. Lists are instantly accessible via the main interface. By default, the life lists and totals are shown as well as the list count by year. Other information such as last life bird, best year, month with most species and sighting recorded are shown as well. Generating life lists for state, county and location is easy by drilling down to that level in the “All Lists” section.

Reports can be divided into a few groups; birder reports, checklists and species reports. Birder reports are provided in two versions. One set is based on user defined criteria and another set is based on predefined criteria. Reports based on criteria include All species life birds for regions, list comparisons, species seen within a date range and trip reports. The predefined reports focus on the traditional life bird reports for all years, this year, species record in a timer period, etc.

As part of the birder reports, 22 in total, users can generate bar charts showing an wide variety of statistics for big months, life birds by month, species count by family, seen species versus all possible species (by family), etc.

The checklist report generates checklists based on a region such as Europe or selected countries (mainly former British colonies). The species report allows the users to generate a chart with the number of sightings for a list (location) and species.

The table below compares Swift with eBird. eBird provides more information with respect to life lists and details the ABA area better. When it comes to charting information. Swift offers the users far more options to explore and display the information, not only at the species level but also at the family level. Swift’s strength lies in the continuous updates to the charts as you drill down to more location specific lists. Swift does not offer their users any maps, but big day/year reports are available as well as comparing of lists.

Report eBird SWIFT
Life List
World Life/Year/Month Life/Year
Continent Life/Year/Month Life/Year
Country Life/Year/Month Life/Year
State Life/Year/Month Life/Year
County Life/Year/Month Life/Year
Location Life/Year/Month Life/Year
ABA Region Life/Year/Month
ABA Ticks Life/Year/Month
Yard Totals “competitive” yard birding
Charts Multiple species abundance Multi species abundance chart
Single species frequency/group size/average/abundance/high count/totals Single species abundance chart
Listed species counts (by family/genus)
Listed species versus all possible
Total by list
Life by year/month
List County Biggest Month
List Count by month
All-time First/Last Region/County/Hotspot/IBA
Big Year/Day/Month Big year/month for any location
Compare lists Yes, lists and family
Checklist (observations for a single date/time/location) Location Any list
Checklists (printable) Location/Hotspot Yes

Noteworthy Features

Swift approach is different from the other listing packages in that it is a highly interactive with features and data being updated when you drill down deeper into your submitted observations. This listing software has many features, that I suspect, I have not fully explored or even discovered. Several features that are worth listing and they include:

The ability to drill down from your lists to a single species and see summary statistics, photo, abundance chart, and monthly sightings overview.

Swift meters are gauges that display your total number of recorded species in each family compared to the world count for each family. Meters are available for your life lists (overall) and each individual list.

A photo gallery that is easy to access from any page in the program. Photos are organized by species. When adding photos, you can edit them (resize and crop).

Swift offers its users to set custom bird seasons. Specifically, the tool allows you to set spring birding and winter birding seasons. These seasons can be tailored to each list (location) that you maintain.

The View Edit Sighting menu is a powerful module or report depending how you look at it. It provides the user a year/month/day drill down approach to access all information. Depending which list or level in the module hierarchy you started out with, sub lists, species and sightings are listed.  The species option displays a multiple-species abundance chart based on your observation with a quick statistical summary of the total species listed by year and the percentage of your over life list. As you drill down to individual dates the displayed information is updated accordingly.

From the Vendor

In the upcoming build (016), months and days can now be imported as single digit values. In addition, the upcoming build also contains a massively-reworked Reports/Checklists screen based on feedback from our User Group. See screenshot of reworked screen below. With the new screen, most reports can be sorted taxonomically or alphabetically, grouped by family or without grouping and can have a checkbox next to each species (for taking into the field) or left without a checkbox. We also reworked the reports so they were better laid out, more of them  are now columnar, etc. and made some speed improvements as that is always our focus.

Last updated 02/23/2017

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