MM eGuide to Australian Birds

The Michael Morcombe eGuide to Australian Birds is the perfect field tool; it goes wherever your phone goes, with no added weight or bulk. It has more information than the book version, plus it includes sound recordings of birds calls and mini-videos of flight patterns, to help you definitely identify different species.

The main menu

It includes over 3000 hi-res bird images covering over 790 bird species. Most bird species have a detailed distribution map showing any subspecies that occur. Also descriptions of almost all bird species including songs and calls, measurements and breeding behaviour.

Over 1800 carefully-selected and edited sound recordings by David Stewart, for some 600 species.  Many species are represented with multiple call examples showing the full range of vocalizations.

There is the ability to compare any two images, maps, or sounds, side by side on the screen. The ability to filter by geographic location, so that you see only the species likely to occur in your location, and to further reduce the possibilities to usual or vagrant species in the selected area.


A “Smart Search” that gives the ability to search by distinguishing features such as size, colour, physical features, habitat and exclude certain types of birds (eg. Passerines).

Taxonomic and Alphabetic searches are the most direct and simple way to find any bird species. But you must either know the common or scientific name of the bird, or look through the bird list, perhaps up to 800, in hope of recognizing the bird you have seen.

To reduce the number of possibilities, choosing in My Location, of one of the twenty land or sea regions will greatly reduce the number of species to be considered, from near 800 down to a far smaller number.

Comparing similar birds

The “Smart Search” feature, where the observer of a bird may select physical features such as long bill long legs, upcurved or downcurved bill. This further shortens the list of possible names for the bird. Likewise the colours of its plumage, the habitat, and the size. Future editions will bring in other search criteria to further refine and close in on the identity of the species.

Also from the Main Menu can be chosen My List, for recording sightings, and at the top right hand corner, access to the Introduction, under which heading are sub-menus for Help, Introduction, Acknowledgements, and Copyright.

A typical smartphone screen

The “My Location” menu allows the user to choose one of twenty regions, thirteen land and seven surrounding seas. With one of these selected, all searches are confined to that region.

The region choice limits the search for the species, to that region. This applies to all searches, Taxonomic, Alphabetic, and the Smart Search.On this screen, above the map, the user can also choose “Usual” to limit the search to those species birds usually in the region, or “All” to include also the rare and vagrant species, or pick “Vagrant” to search only among only the rare vagrant, stormblown and sometimes slightly doubtful records.

When any bird species is displayed, whether found by taxonomic, alphabetic or ‘Smart’ search routes, the first screen (right) will show in its top 2/3, the illustrations . These can be scrolled upwards to display illustrations and their identifying markings.The bottom 1/3 displays the text, which scrolls upwards. A tap on either art or text expands that part to full screen.

At top right, to right of species name, is a notebook-pen symbol, which takes user into pages where sightings can be recorded.When the music note symbol at top right of screen is touched, the song selector appears, with a selection of calls and songs displayed. When the “Compare” feature is in use, its easy to switch between calls of any two species or races, and to the illustrations.When the map symbol near the top right-hand corner is tapped, the text is replaced by the map for the species.

The Varied Sittella, shown here at left, as an example, has five subspecies (races). The colours on the map show the range for each species, with a dot of that same colour beside each illustration to link the illustration with its range on the map.

The bird images can be scrolled vertically, so that that each illustrated race can be viewed above the map.  In the Compare mode (“Comp”) any two species can be compared on the screen, eg both males together, or both females, or both in both breeding plumages, both maps, both sets of songs.

The species in the lower half remains fixed, while many different species can be scrolled across the upper half to compare with the lower species.

Whether viewing a single species, or comparing, the device can be turned on its side for an enlarged view.

This is but a short summary of the features of this application. Other abilities will be added in future upgrades, usually free.

The Michael Morcombe eGuide to Australian Birds is published by MyDigitalEarth.

Bird calls provided by David Stewart of Nature Sound.

The author reserves the right to vary, modify, reduce extent, restrict access to part or whole, or discontinue this web site at any time without notice or warning.