As technology has advanced, the methods used in modern birding have changed greatly. Primarily, online birding lists or forums give instant access to recent sightings, and result in many more people seeing a one day rarity, or being able to discuss birding topics with a large number of people at once.
Personally, I heavily use weather radar and other maps while in the field. It’s very helpful to know if the clouds on the horizon are simply a small shower, or a storm serious enough to warrant a retreat. Additionally, Google Maps is fabulous for making custom maps with bird locations or markers, and then being able to access it on your smartphone in the field. Satellite view is also very helpful, and as long as you have cell and GPS coverage, makes navigating through areas of forest with no distinct trails much easier and safer than without. With wireless email and internet, there have been times where I’ve seen a report of a rarity nearby, and have abandoned my current plans to go “chase” that bird. This is without even mentioning the bird identification and song playback apps available. I am content with my paper guides for now, since I don’t relish re-paying for something in electronic format, especially since I’m quite comfortable with the eastern birds and have little use for a field guide while birding in my area.
I’m curious to hear how others use technology with respects to birding – please do leave a comment!