My First Paid App

I finally broke down yesterday and bought my first app for the iPad.  Those who know me might guess that I bought some sort of productivity tool, a game, or even a spiritual type item.  However, my first purchase was a reference tool for one of my lifelong passions – birding!

I have the free version of iBird on my iPhone – its created by the same folks who made the great website,  If you’ve ever wondered what bird that is, flashing by your window, or waking you at 5AM with its cheery song, then the website is a great place  to start.  With the ability to narrow down a bird by color, size, shape, habitat, bill shape and size… and more, its not just fun its useful!

iBird for the iPhone/iPod touch, comes in a number of different paid versions ranging from free to nearly $30 for a professional version.  So far, it appears that iBird for the iPad only comes in the $5 “backyard birds” edition.  So that’s what I got – and it has already been worth the investment.

There has been this particular bird who has woken me at 5AM for some time now with his amazing variety of songs (though I know know them all fairly well – he is thematic and does use patterns a lot).  I actually figured out “who he was” using the website version.  However, I really enjoyed seeing the song sparrow listed in iBird, and learning more about him.

The iBird interface is great.  Not only can you see both artist paintings of each bird, but you can also see the Wikipedia info for the bird without going online.  I had actually read a lot about this little tune-maker on Wikipedia a while ago, in my search to find out more about him.

One of the coolest features of iBird is that it lets you compare birds side by side.  From this comparison chart, you’ll understand why it was such a challenge to figure out who was singing on my porch every morning.  There are many sparrows who make their home in PA, but it it is the Song Sparrow who has the most unusual songs.

So what does this all have to do with art and technology you ask?  Well I’m actually inspired to learn more about bird-song and composers who have used birdsong in their work.  I’ve used my iPad keyboard to work out the key and notes that the Song Sparrow uses, and have even tried to remember a bit of my composition skills to write them down.  I’ll need either David, Jamie, or Rosemary’s help to do more than that!

Anyone up for a collaborative musical creation on the Song Sparrow theme?

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