Birds, Birds, Birds! DVD [Revisited]
Birds, Birds, Birds! [An
Indoor Birdwatching Field Trip] by John Feith author of Birdsong Ear Training Guide DVD Video Guide ISBN 0975443410
http://www.caculo.com Buy this DVD online for $24.95 send payment to: John Feith, 1225 East Mifflin Street, Madison WI 53703. Orders
will be shipped December 14th First Class (1-3 day). Contact email@example.com if you need a rush order. Profits will go to the
Wisconsin Society for Ornithology & the Nature Conservancy.
it is not often that I am asked to re-visit a review – but there is a first time for everything I guess. It appears that I had a pre-release version and that some of what I said might well have been different if I had had the full commercial version at the outset. Here is what I said before: There is nothing wrong with the sounds, song and images of the birds on this DVD. There are selections of both giving a visual feast of still photographs in various plumages and video clips of singing or flying birds etc. accompanied by the fine wine of bird songs and calls. The narration is, for the most part clear too but would benefit greatly from the addition of written phrases on screen to reflect the mnemonics given in the narration. I have already forgotten most from one viewing and I would surely have retained more if the way the songs are described were there in script as well as said – moreover, once or twice the phrase was said quickly and just once so I wasn`t sure what the phrase was.
However, this is not the
major problem of the product. There are in fact two problems.
Firstly the instructions for navigating the disc are written on the disc and not repeated anywhere on the cover or by way of insert. There is no index either except on screen at the beginning if you care to access it. Now I`m a pretty clever fellow, ask anyone, but even I can`t read instructions off a disc that is already in the DVD playing slot! Pretty fundamental eh guys?
The second problem for me is that there seems no rhyme or reason for the order in which the birds appear – please tell me if I`m missing something here. I know that there is controversy about the exact order of the phylogenetic tree but having passerines mixed up with non-passerines and in no particular order makes the product seem messy and amateurish. What is more there is no intuitive navigation – scooting through to look for corvids and assuming that they would be after waders was a mistake.
So, from my point of view this is a good idea spoilt by a couple of howlers that could easily have been avoided.
Having said that I could have done with seeing the DVD before my recent trip to Texas and Mexico – any help on song ID would have stopped me assuming that distant Brewer`s Blackbirds were Common Grackles and Bluebirds glimpsed briefly were Indigo Buntings. It would have saved this European birder from a little embarrassment. And, as the proceeds go to good causes; I wish them luck with the sales.
So, have I modified my views
on a second viewing of the full release version? The answer is a little, but only a little. I still think that it is a useful
addition to any birders array of guides but that it has flaws. The two I pointed out remain, one in part, the other more or less the
same. This time I played the DVD on my computer rather than my DVD player and it was easier to navigate. The author tells me he
wanted it to be intuitive… well it still isn`t quite that. The index etc., made navigation a lot easier but it was not obvious how to
get back to the index once I had navigated to the place I wanted to be. My mouse back button didn`t get me there and the only
recourse I had was to stop and start over. This was not a major problem but to me it was evidence that the use is not 100% intuitive.
Menus are easier and having an index certainly made getting to where I wanted to go straightforward, but getting back
The second criticism I had, about the order of birds, remains. I am still completely convinced that a standard taxonomic order is best – even if this means giving an explanation for novices. Indexes can then be alphabetical just as an index is in a book… but there is nothing wrong with everyone getting to know about taxonomy early in their birding career.
I am grateful for it being pointed out to me that I had not mention other features like the quiz and soundscape; the latter being as entertaining as the former. I am happy to hear that future editions will have some sub-titling too – this in my view doubles the value of mnemonics, that way the eye reinforces the ear. So, I still recommend the product, but I still have reservations.
Created: 20th Mar 2005