Getting started with blueBill Mobile for Android

Please be aware that pictures in this document are not up to date with the current version of the application.

When blueBill Mobile starts, it shows the list of observations which, of course, is empty at the beginning.

A new observation is added by pressing the + button. The current time is sampled and the GPS is started to determine the current position.

A list of the most recently selected species is present. They can be picked for the new observation, or another can be selected by pressing one of the four buttons at the bottom. They allow to directly go to the list of species, or to refine the search through the taxonomy, starting from orders, families or genera.

Any list can be filtered by entering a short text, either with the physical keyboard or popping up the software keyboard by pressing the 'abc' button. There are multiple ways to filter lists that can be choosen by preferences (see below); by default you have to type a portion of the bird name that you're searching for (please note that the pictures below are depicting a different kind of filter).

Of course, the list can be scrolled up and down with your fingers, at your convenience. The next screen allows to enter the number of observed birds and the gender.


Pressing "Add more..." allows to insert further species that are considered part of the same observation. When all the species have been inserted, "Ok" must be pressed.


Now the final screen is presented, which allows to confirm the current position. If the GPS signal is good, usually the position has been already computed by the time you get here. blueBill Mobile also optionally queries a geocoding service to provide a name for the current place and shows a map of the surroundings. If you are not satisfied with the place name (it is usually accurate in urban areas, but might not be in the countryside), you can enter your own. It is possible to recompute the position and search again for the place name by pressing the two refresh buttons with the circular arrows.

The search of the place name and the map rendering must be explicitly enabled by means of the preferences (see below): they use an internet connection which can require a fee to be paid. By default, blueBill Mobile is configured not to use any pay service.

At the end of the process, you are presented again the observation screen and the latest inserted data are shown.


By long-pressing any item it is possible to edit the time and/or the date of the observation, in case it was not entered in real time.

Observations can be shared by popping up the options menu and selecting the "Share" button.

You'll be offered with a number of sharing options, depending on your phone. Email and SMS should be always available. It is possible to review the contents of the message to send.



Local names and scientific names

From the options menu it is possible to call the preferences screen. The first panel allows to control the language used for the species (this is not necessarily the language set for the phone). It is possible to pick a secondary language (which can be useful for journeys abroad) and to activate scientific names (binomial names).


Language preferences are immediately available in every screen once activated.



blueBill Mobile supports three checklists to choose bird species from:

  1. The American Ornithologists' Union checklist for North America.
  2. The EBN Italia checklist for the Western Palearctic.
  3. The Roberts checklist for Southern Africa.

You have to pick the proper checklist for your area. Please note that common names for the species are always available in english; for other languages, they depend on the checklist. If you choose a language that is not supported by the current checklist, you will only see scientific names.


Name filters

It is possible to choose between four different strategies to filter species in lists:


  • "Fast with leading" is activated by default. The first key stroke filters by initial, and further keystrokes must appear in sequence in the name.
  • "Fast" is similar to the previous one, but without selecting the initial.
  • "Initials" only selects the first lecter in every word of the name (e.g. "hg" picks, among others, the "Herring gull")
  • "Exact substring" matches any name which entirely contains the typed lecters.

Remember that filtering works on all the names rendered on the screen, including the secondary language and the scientific name. It might be advisable to disable them for fast picking - in any case, the better technique for fast filtering of names must be found by trial and error.


Cost control options

blueBill Mobile by default doesn't use any service that might require a fee, such as network connections. They can be useful for finding a location when the GPS signal is not available, or for downloading maps and other media. Enable them with care - in particular, recall that roaming abroad can be expensive!


Note: the current version of blueBill Mobile downloads a map, when the option is enabled, at every new observations. Future versions will cache maps for reducing the costs.