Bird Journal

Bird Journal allows you to enter bird and wildlife observations, photos, habitat and more with customizable data entry. The current version is 5.0 and was released in March 2016. This version supports a wide variety of ornithological checklists (Clements, SACC, IOC) as well as amphibians, bees, butterflies, etc. Many lists are available for individual countries, continents or the world. This program enables users to look back through their data with reports, lists, graphs, maps and photos. Because your data is synced with the cloud, you can access your full dataset from anywhere.

Bird Journal is aimed at the serious birder/naturalist whom wants to keep track of all observations and explore their data in a multitude of ways.

Bird Journal is available as a free version and as a premium version ($39.99 per year). The premium version includes advanced analysis, insightful graphs, maps and reports. A 14-day trial is available. Existing users can earn credits for the premium version if they refer the program to a friend via links/email or social media.

Installation of Bird Journal on the desktop was very easy. One click after downloading the installation file and you are ready to roll. Mobile versions are available for iOS and Android and can be installed from iTunes and Google Play respectively.

Taxonomic Support

Bird Journal supports a large number of taxonomic lists for birds, mammals, plants, insects, etc. Many of the taxonomic lists are provided at the global level, but subsets for many individual countries are available too. Several of the bird taxonomic lists are unfortunately out of date. Many of the non-bird taxonomies and checklists focus on species in Europe and (former) British Colonies. The table below compares eBird and Bird Journal.

Nov 19, 2016 eBird Bird Journal
Birds Clements 2016 Clements 2014
IOC 6.2
ABA 2014
SACC 2014
SEO 2014
BOU 2016
C&B 2014
CBRO 2014
IRBC 2014
Butterflies No Yes – EU, UK, Australia
Herps No Yes – EU, UK, Belize, West Indies
Mammals No Yes – UK
Western Pelagic
South Africa
Plants No
Other eBird only focuses on birds Dragonflies & Damselflies
Insects (several tax lists)
Orchids, Cetaceans & Sharks (UK)
Fix lists No No
 Notes Includes additions such as:
Identifiable Sub-specific Group
Mostly older taxonomic lists are currently available.
Most taxonomic lists focus on EU, UK and (former) British Colonies.

Integration with eBird

Bird Journal handles data exchange with eBird well, but is currently incomplete.

Bird Journal 5.0.1203 supports import of eBird All Observations and exports to eBird’s record format. Import of all eBird Observations is a straight forward process and a special window listing all mismatched species and unknown locations makes it easy to fix these data issues before all data are committed to the database. Most time during the import process was spend fixing issues such as mismatched species or new locations. Adding a subset of 15,993 records took about 11 minutes to complete.

The inability to import eBird individual checklist, is a drawback that becomes obvious when trying to keep Bird Journal and eBird in sync. However, this is not a bottleneck if Bird Journal is the primary bird listing software you use and you just need to keep eBird up-to-date.

Bird Journal allows users to create eBird compatible checklist using the record format. Required eBird protocol information is entered as part of entering observations into the program.

Data Entry

Bird Journal Data Entry Window (click to open).

Before users can start entering observations, locations will need to be created. Adding a new location is easy. For each location you will need to specify a parent location, which could be a province or state. Bird Journal will attach it to the correct country. Locations can be geo-tagged via a build-in map interface, which allows the user to navigate to a location and get the latitude and longitude coordinates.

Entering observations is accomplished via keyboard entry or selecting species from a checklist. Both data entry options support smart search and via the keyboard entry use can enter codes as well. Given that some taxonomies have hundreds of species, there can be a lot of scrolling involved in checking all species seen. However the likely filter that is available, will shorten this list. Entering additional information regarding your observation such as count, notes, add photos can be done after you selected each species or after you have built your complete checklist. Once all data has been entered the program does a nice job of keeping the information displayed on the screen. If you so desire, you can specify your own fields to be included in the data entry form. As part of entering your observations, you can also specify the used eBird protocol. Support protocols include area, casual, stationary and traveling. Overall data entry is easy and is fastest via the keyboard approach.

In addition to the eBird import, Bird Journal supports the import of Bird Journal record, Avisys, BirdTrack, and Wildlife Recorder. No other formats are supported at this time.

Mobile version

Bird Journal supports both iOS and Android platforms. This review is based on the Android version. The application opens up with an overview of your various lists and a short summary your entries and all species seen in the designated tabs. Also, the app includes a species list screen, and both entries and species screens are filterable by year, month, etc. Via the mobile app, you have access to all your observations, because your data is synchronized in the cloud. Only Bird Journal appears to be offering this feature.

A “+” button starts the process of recording your observations. The application allows the user to set a specific location and to enable or disable “Live Time and Position”.  Data entry is easy using the mobile app, because of the embedded smart search function. Adding count and other information require that you open another window. Adding the species count is perhaps the most awkward function of all. The species counter comes up with 4 dials, with the default being the left most dial. So extra work is required to set the count. A handy “Done” button gets you back to the main species selection window.  You can review and update your observations as needed before synchronizing your data with the cloud (and by extension your desktop). If you want to keep track of each location in which you record an observation for e.g. Carolina Chickadee, you can do so, by simply entering a new record. If you do not want to do this, just update your first record.

The mobile app works fine when off-line. Each observation is geo-tagged with GPS coordinates, although you can easily set a single location (GPS coordinates) for all your observations.


Bird Journal provides a large variety of reports and summaries that include life lists, access to checklists, a photo gallery, species listing, graphs (9), maps (3), and reports (4). Many of these reports and analysis charts can be refined based on users choices. For example, the species year count charts can be refined by location, checklist or family and property (gender/heard only). All together 19 different options are available to look at your submitted observations.

When you access the entries (aka checklists), photo gallery and species you will see a quick overview of all your data. In the checklist overview, Bird Journal will indicate if the species is a lifer or new for the year. Any attached photos are shown too.

The graphs module of Bird Journal is intuitive and provides many options to generate counts charts, checklist, but also inter and intra year population (number of species seen) charts. Summaries by family and species order are also available. Many different life/seasonal or monthly data charts can be generated in this module. Interesting are they inter and intra population charts, which show you the progress you have made with respect to seeing new year birds and the progress chart depicts the total number of lifers over time.

Three different maps are offered to the users, including observations submitted, locations and photos. As you zoom in on a specific area, the displayed information is refined for the locations within the area. This is a novel way of looking at your own data.

In the report section users can generate observation reports, a species report (with first and last observation),  a firsts (aka your life list) and a checklist. It is possible to create custom taxonomies, checklists and synonym packs via the library on the desktop application. Any  checklist does indicate if a species is a potential lifer for you.

The table below compares eBird reporting versus Bird Journal. Both programs are offer a similar set of reports and maps. Bird Journal delivers a lot of customizable charts. eBird however is more “community” focused and delivers good maps and hotpot information, whereas Bird Journal focuses on the individual birder.

eBird Bird Journal
Life List
World Life/Year/Month Life/Year/Month
Continent Life/Year/Month Life/Year/Month
Country Life/Year/Month Life/Year/Month
State Life/Year/Month Life/Year/Month
County Life/Year/Month Life/Year/Month
Location Life/Year/Month Life/Year/Month
ABA Region Life/Year/Month Life/Year/Month
ABA Ticks Life/Year/Month Life/Year/Month
Yard Totals “competitive” yard birding Life/Year/Month
Charts Multiple species abundance Year count
Single species frequency/group size/average/abundance/high count/totals Month count
Location count
Intra year population count
Inter year population count
Species Progress
Family Distribution
Species Order
Species Locations
Hotspots Observations
All-time First/Last Region/County/Hotspot/IBA First & last observation by species
Checklist (observations for a single date/time/location) Location via view/edit window
Checklists (printable) Location/Hotspot Based on taxonomy only

Noteworthy Features

Bird Journal has several features that are worth listing and they include:

Bird Journals users interface is modern looking and probably one of the easiest to navigate with quick access to checklists, the photo gallery, species, and locations.  A hidden feature in this interface are the back and forth arrow, that function very much like the back and forth buttons in a standard web browser.

The location page provides detailed information on the location, recent entires, a nice looking chart with species order distribution, and the species count by year. In many ways this is a summary report. Each module on the page allows you to drill down a little deeper in the data.

A photo gallery that is easy to access from any page in the program. Photos are organized by month, but users can refine their selection via a range of user defined criteria.

The Sync functionality that enables you to synchronize your observation between your desktop, the cloud, and the various devices (smart phone, desktop, etc.) you installed Bird Journal on. Due to this functionality you have access to all your observations and lists (excluding photos on hand held devices) on any device.

From the Vendor

Custom taxonomy, checklists and synonym packs are available.  Much of the content in the library is user created and shared with other users via the Publish button.  These items have a quick review, and are then made available in the library for other users to enjoy.  Updates to these items are easy to install and appear much like app updates in an App Store with badges:

The desktop app updates are as seamless as mobile app updates.  They download in the background and install automatically.

Last updated Jan 24, 2017

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