- What is the difference between BWPi versions 1.0 and 2.0?
- Is the video footage in BWPi the same as in BirdGuides DVD-ROM
Guide to All the Birds of Europe?
- What's so special about the content of BWP?
- If I already have the BWP books, why should I get BWPi?
- What are the system requirements for BWPi?
- Does BWPi run on an Apple Mac?
- Does BWPi run on Windows Vista/Windows 7?
- Can BWPi run from the CD-ROM drive of my computer?
- Can I use BWPi in a DVD-Video player?
- Will my copy of BWPi work abroad? What about region encoding?
I have heard that DVDs bought in the UK do not work in the USA.
- Does BWPi offer any presentation features?
- Can I still compare species side by side?
- Can I add my own data to BWPi?
- I thought BWP was already available on CD-ROM?
- How do I find the species I want?
- How do I find the most useful references for any species?
- Are recently split species treated separately?
- Is BWPi available in any languages other than English?
- Can I find out where the birds were filmed?
Q. What is the difference between BWPi versions 1.0 and 2.0?
A. Version 2.0 offers the following enhancements over Version 1.0:
- Compatibility with Windows 7, Vista and XP
- The ability to add your own assets
- All BWP Update journal content included
- 700 extra video clips
- 75 new species accounts
- New and updated population and distribution data
- Various minor bug fixes and enhancements
Version 1.0 was discontinued by BirdGuides Ltd in 2006. Click here for information on upgrading to BWPi 2.0 at discounted rates.
Q. Is the video footage in BWPi
the same as in BirdGuides DVD-ROM Guide to All the Birds of Europe?
A. Yes and no! The video content of BWPi has been painstakingly selected
from the hundreds of hours of material footage in the BirdGuides video archive. Much
of the material has never previously been published in our earlier CD/DVD-ROMs. In addition,
there are a number of further improvements:
- Better quality reproduction: Much of the footage has been re-processed using
the latest video compression technology. This means the footage generally looks
better and clearer on-screen than in previous BirdGuides products.
- More video footage: The new technology not only gives a better quality of
reproduction, it also means that the same clip will take up less space on the disk.
This allows us to include at least 10 hours of footage – significantly more than
ever before. Therefore many species either have more video clips, showing different
plumages or behaviours, or have longer clips. In some cases one video clip actually
includes a montage of many different birds in the same plumage – excellent for getting
to know the variety of 'appearances' a species can show.
- Footage of more species: Of course, BWPi includes a lot more species
(over 970) than All the Birds of Europe (c. 620) – and almost 800
of those species have at least one video clip to show them in action. For most species
multiple clips are provided showing different plumages and behaviours. Video clips
give a unique opportunity for you to see what a species really looks like, so you'll
become 'familiar' with birds even if you haven't yet seen them in the wild.
- New footage of some species: In the last year we've gathered more footage
from a number of sources, adding extra material to improve or extend the footage
of many species.
- Full-screen fills any screen: In All the Birds of Europe, the 'full-screen'
option increases the size of the video clips to 640 x 480 pixels – at one time this
would fill the screen on most computers but nowadays many computers have much higher
screen resolutions in which an image of that size leaves a lot of space around it.
In BWPi if you choose to play any video full-screen it really does fill the
whole of your monitor. At the British Birdwatching Fair we were demonstrating the
video clips filling a plasma screen that was several feet wide! Viewing the footage
at this size enables you and your friends to sit back from the screen and watch
- Compare as many clips as you like on-screen at once: All the Birds of
Europe gives you the chance to compare any two species side-by-side, to watch
the videos together or to freeze them at the most interesting positions and compare
them directly. This has long been appreciated as a fantastic tool for learning the
differences between any two species but the option was limited to just two species
at a time. With BWPi you can still quickly compare two species but you also
have the option of opening more windows showing more species – great for buzzards,
eagles, gulls, warblers, etc.
- Find out more about the bird in the footage: In BWPi there is an option
that allows you to get more information about the video clip, including, if we know,
where and when it was shot. This can be very valuable to help you understand what
race or plumage it is likely to be.
Q. What's so special about the content
A. Perhaps the biggest difference between BWPi and all previous BirdGuides
software is that BWPi includes the content from The Handbook of the Birds
of the Western Palearctic (BWP), The Concise Edition (Concise BWP)
and the BWP Updates series. What's so good about that?
THE ULTIMATE TEXT
The original BWP was published in 9 volumes costing £90 each. The intention was
to produce the ultimate work of reference, distilling everything that had been published
on each species up to that point. Hence, with over 7000 pages of text, this remains
THE standard reference for every birdwatcher.
The amount of detail in this text is astonishing. If you want to check the plumage
details for birds of different ages, this text will tell you, for example, at what stage
birds in their first adult plumage lose different tracts of juvenile feathers - and
how to distinguish these juvenile feathers from adult feathers, thus helping you age
the bird. If you see a bird displaying to another and want to understand what is happening,
the descriptions of displays and behaviour will enable you identify, for example whether
it was a male threatening another male or one courting a female. If you hear a certain
sound and want to understand why that bird makes that sound, the descriptions of the
vocalisations are such that you can learn, for example, that it advertises the presence
of food. These are just a few examples of the way you can use BWP to find information
that you simply can't find anywhere else.
The text covers each of the following topics:
- Field Characters - how to identify each species, written by DIM Wallace,
in more detail than you'll find in any other bird book except in some of the family
- Habitat - including details of how it might differ in different parts of
- Distribution - detailing the status in countries at the edge of its range
- Populations - how many pairs in each country, are the numbers increasing
or decreasing and why
- Movements - which populations migrate and where do they go. Also, when and
in what numbers can they be seen on migration and when do they arrive at or leave
their breeding and wintering grounds.
- Food - exactly what are they known to eat (i.e. not just 'insects') and what
feeding techniques do they use
- Social pattern and behaviour - all their known displays described, explained
and, often, illustrated, including responses to other males, females and predators
- Voice - calls of adults and young described and put into context
- Breeding - a summary of data on things like the timing of the breeding cycle,
breeding success, causes of failure, incubation and fledging periods, clutch sizes,
descriptions of nests and eggs etc
- Plumages - every plumage described in detail, so if first adult male differs
from first adult female you'll be able to find out the difference.
- Moults - every moult described so you can find out if they moult before or
after reaching their wintering grounds and whether they change all their feathers
or retain some older ones.
- Measurements - wing lengths and weights etc. of males, females, different
populations etc - it's all here
- Structure - detailed comments on the shapes and lengths of bill, tail, wings,
etc. compared with similar species
- Geographical variation - what races are recognised, where are they found
and how do they differ; e.g. does the race balearica only occur in the Balearics?
So, this isn't just another set of information - it's THE text covering what is known
about each species. Most of this information is timeless but, of course, details of
population sizes and trends will eventually change. However, BWPi also contains
all the text from the Concise Edition of BWP, a further 1697 pages, so the population
figures are updated at least to 1998. Altogether there are approximately six million
words of text in BWPi 2.0.
THE ULTIMATE ARTWORK
Some of the plates in the original BWP were criticised for not being up to the
rigorous standard of the text so no fewer than 230 new plates were prepared for the
Concise Edition. BWPi will include all the plates from Concise BWP.
That's over 5600 detailed illustrations of over
900 species - about 50% more illustrations than in the Collins Bird Guide.
The average of over 6 paintings per species indicates just how many plumages are represented
here, including many that simply are not illustrated anywhere else. With artwork by
people such as Ian Lewington, Alan Harris, Chris Rose, Hilary Burn, Robert Gillmor,
Hakan Delin, etc., the standard is exceptionally high. No other resource offers so many
paintings of such high quality covering all the birds of the Western Palearctic in so
THE ULTIMATE MAPS
The maps in BWPi are taken from the Concise BWP. These are unquestionably
the best, most detailed distribution maps available for the Western Palearctic. In many
published distribution maps, there's a tendency to 'colour in' whole countries if a
species is known to breed there but these maps have been prepared to a much higher level
of accuracy. For example, for Aquatic Warbler, the known breeding sites in Poland are
shown exactly - you could actually work out where each site is. No other publication
has even attempted to represent bird distributions throughout the Western Palearctic
in such detail.
Q. If I already have the BWP
books, why should I get BWPi?
A. Here are some reasons to consider.
The BWP books are fantastic but even the best books in the world can't enable
you to watch and listen to birds as if you were seeing them in the field. Even the best
illustrations and photos can only go so far towards letting you see what birds really
look like but videos give you a chance to watch a bird and get a real 'feel' for that
species. There are now a number of products on the market that provide some videos of
birds but only BWPi includes over 10 hours of video footage covering almost 800
species. In many cases you'll see lots of clips of different individuals in different
settings providing a unique resource for reference purposes. The beauty of this format
is also that it allows you to watch the action over and over again, or freeze it at
any point, or enlarge it, or put any two video clips side-by-side for comparison. In
some ways that's BETTER than watching a bird in the field.
Similarly BWPi includes a phenomenal sound archive of songs and calls covering
over 580 species, giving you the chance to listen to almost any species, again and again
and compare it with almost any other. This is so much more informative than trying to
interpret written descriptions of the sounds.
THE BOOKS IN A MORE CONVENIENT FORM
Suppose you want to look up a species in the BWP books. First you have to work
out which volume it is, then find the correct pages for that species. Even then, the
text for each bird is so dense that it can be difficult to find the most relevant section.
Also, the plates with the illustrations are often on different pages, indeed you may
have to hunt through the book for several different plates of the same species (at rest
and in flight for example). In many cases the plate you find might be one of the poorer
quality ones that were redone for the Concise BWP, so you'll need to look that
up too and besides, if you want to have the most up-to-date map or more recent population
statistics you'll have to consult the Concise BWP anyway. Then, if you want to
compare your bird with a similar species you'll have further problems. Often similar
species are shown together on one plate but, to give just one example, Tree Pipit isn't
on the same plate as either Red-throated or Meadow Pipit. Even when you find the right
plate, it can be tricky to work out which of the many illustrations is the one most
relevant to you. In a plate showing 21 different Stonechats you'll have to work out
which ones refer to Siberian Stonechats, and which plumages are applicable to you. Each
image is labelled with only a number. When you look up number 9 it says "9 1st winter
female. S. t. variegata: ". However, the 'S. t. variegata' refers to the
next image, number 10, so you have to look back through the captions to find that number
9 is actually S. t. hibernans. And did you realise that S. t. hibernans
was the race that breeds in Britain? And what exactly is the difference between this
and the other races?
Of course with a bit of extra knowledge and some familiarity with how the plates
are labelled it is still possible to find just what you're looking for in BWP.
But BWPi makes it so much easier.
IT'S ALL IN ONE PLACE – ON ONE DISK
It's all accessible via clickable menus – just click on the bird's name and you can
access all the material together (BWP, Concise BWP, BWP Updates,
videos, sounds, maps, illustrations, etc.)
All the text is clearly laid out into paragraphs so it's much easier to find, for
example, the 'juvenile' section of the plumage descriptions.
All the illustrations are individually labelled AND annotated to point out what makes
that species or plumage different from the others.
Any two species can be displayed side-by-side and you can manipulate the images so
that comparable plumages are next to each other too.
There's a search facility to enable you to find quickly the parts of most interest
BWP UPDATE TOO
BWPi includes revised text that has already been published for 75 species from
EXTRA TEXT FOR SPLIT SPECIES
Since the Concise BWP was published, a number of 'splits' have been widely, and
often officially, accepted and this has generated a plethora of new information on how
these forms can be recognised. Compared with Concise BWP, there are 22 extra
'forms' treated separately in BWPi and new text, mostly covering identification,
has been written for each of these.
Q. What are the system requirements
A. In a nutshell:
If you have a Windows PC, you will need:
- Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista or Windows 7
- Pentium III processor or better
- 250 MB free hard disk space
- 128 MB RAM
- 1024 x 768 16-bit or 24-bit display resolution
- DVD-ROM drive
If you have an Apple Mac, you will need:
- Mac OS X
- G3 processor or better
- 250 MB free hard disk space
- 128 MB RAM
- 1024 x 768 16-bit or 24-bit display resolution
- DVD-ROM drive
But, for clarification, here are the answers to some further questions we've been
Q. Does BWPi run on an Apple
A. Yes, as long as it uses the OS X operating system. BWPi does not
run on Mac OS 9 or earlier.
Q. Will BWPi run on Windows Vista/Windows 7?
If you see an error message saying that the file qt-mt335.dll was not found, you have the 64-bit version of Vista or Windows 7 - a fix is available for both Vista and Windows 7.
Q. Can BWPi run from the CD-ROM
drive of my computer?
A. No, your computer needs to have a DVD-ROM drive. Nowadays almost all new
computers have DVD-ROM drives which will play both CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs. DVD-ROM drives
can also be purchased and installed separately in most computers.
Q. Can I use BWPi in a DVD-Video
A. No. It's a DVD-ROM, not a DVD-Video and therefore will only run through
a computer. Although you can play DVD-Videos on your computer (assuming you have a DVD-ROM
drive and the right software) you can't run a DVD-ROM on a DVD-Video player.
Q. Will my copy of BWPi work
abroad? What about region encoding? I have heard that DVDs bought in the UK do not
work in the USA.
A. Yes. Regional encoding issues affect only DVD-Videos, and BWPi is
Q. Does BWPi offer any
A. It certainly does. All the assets (illustrations, text, videos etc) in
BWPi are represented by thumbnails that are displayed in a browser. At any point,
you can copy selected thumbnails into your own browser to create a collection of specific
assets. These can be from a number of different species. When your collection is ready,
you can then select full screen mode and step through your material in slide show fashion,
asset by asset. This feature is specifically designed for giving presentations.
Q. Can I still be compare species side
A. Absolutely. The ability to compare species has been a popular feature since
the earliest BirdGuides CD-ROMs came out; it is available in an enhanced from in the
new BWPi software. Click here for some examples.
Q. Can I add my own data to BWPi?
A. Version 2.0 of BWPi includes a powerful new facility to add your
own content to, and to integrate it seamlessly with, the published information. This
includes photos, videos and text. You can literally drag and drop your own material
into BWPi 2.0. A facility is provided to annotate and name each item so that
it can be easily found later. Furthermore, a filter has been added so that you can choose
whether to show or hide such additional content.
Q. I thought BWP was already
available on CD-ROM?
A. The short answer is: yes there was a product which has now been discontinued.
It is far inferior to BWPi and there is no connection between the two. A longer
answer to the question now follows!
The first attempt to put the content of BWP into an electronic format was
published in 1998 on 3 CD-ROMs called The Complete Birds of the Western Palearctic
on CD-ROM produced by a company called Optimedia at a price of £235. The original
CD-ROM title was widely criticised in reviews and generated so many complaints from
customers that many retailers refused to stock it and the publishers, Oxford University
Press, eventually withdrew it from sale.
The BWPi DVD-ROM is a completely new product, intended to provide not only
what this earlier title had promised but also a great deal more.
Here are some of the key differences between the two products:
- Video footage
The Optimedia product had video footage of only 385 species. The videos could only
be viewed at a small size on the screen and, though they could be paused, it wasn't
possible to step through the footage frame-by-frame or compare one video clip with
another. Each clip was very short, usually only 5-10 seconds, and the quality of
reproduction, even at that small size, was often disappointing. This was particularly
obvious on any singing birds in which the sound was badly distorted.
BWPi on the other hand has over 2,300 video clips which are of longer duration
- over 10 hours of footage of 830 species. The videos can viewed at any size, studied
frame-by-frame and compared side-by-side with any other video clip. Some of the
videos are over a minute long giving a real opportunity to 'get to know' the species
you are watching and the quality of reproduction is such that the best clips look
superb on today's fast computers, even at full screen size. Another important point
is that in BWPi many of the video clips contain several shots of different
birds for each plumage.
Frustratingly with the Optimedia version, the video clips were labelled only with
the name of the species, so if you wanted to study a certain plumage you first had
to click on 'video' to see whether that species had any videos at all, then you
had to open whatever clip was there to find out what it showed. Once you opened
a video file it took another click to make it play and another to display what plumage
it was. In BWPi all the assets for each species are clearly laid out in Thumbnail
view so you can see at a glance what images, videos, photos and sounds are available.
- Sound recordings
BWPi includes songs and calls of over 600 species, compared with only 419
species in the Optimedia version. Again, the recordings in BWPi are clearly
laid out so you can see at a glance which recordings are songs, calls, etc., unlike
in the previous version in which the recordings of each species were simply numbered.
In the Optimedia product, the illustrations were presented in their original plates
which were intended for reproduction on the printed page, not on a computer screen.
In order to view any image at a reasonable size it was necessary to magnify the
whole plate so only a fraction of it could be seen on the screen. The illustrations
were numbered rather than labelled so it was necessary to refer to a key to work
out which bird was which. By clicking on any name in the key, the plate would move
so that that image was visible on the screen but it still wasn't obvious which of
the pictures on the plate was the relevant one. A greater drawback was the inability
to compare images from more than one plate. This made it practically impossible
to compare the images of Tree Pipit with either Meadow Pipit or Red-throated Pipit,
for example, since these were on different plates.
In BWPi, all the images are individually isolated and labelled, thus avoiding
any confusion over what you are looking at. With the images separated it is now
possible to put any 2 (or 4) images directly side-by-side - you have complete control
over which images you select for comparison and also what size you view them at:
- Corrected Texts
For various reasons, the text published by Optimedia had many typos, omissions and
confusions. With the help of a team of enthusiastic volunteers, BirdGuides has devoted
many months of effort to finding and correcting as many of those errors as possible.
- Updated Texts
Since the publication of the Optimedia version, many species accounts have been
updated via the journal BWP Update. BWPi includes 75 of the new species
texts from this journal. Another change since 1998 is the acceptance of a number
of taxonomic changes including the 'splitting' of certain species into 2 or 3 forms.
In BWPi, the 'split species' are presented separately, each with their own
illustrations, video clips, sound recordings, maps and texts where available. The
texts for the split species include the original BWP and Concise BWP
texts for the 'parent' species, plus a new 'Split Supplement' text which refers
only to that species.
- Ongoing Improvements
One major problem with the Optimedia product is that although many bugs and faults
were pointed out, there was no commitment to resolve them, so customers were stuck
with the original flawed version. If there are any errors in BWPi we are
keen to hear of them, so we can make corrections available via our website. Registered owners of BWPi can download updates free of charge.
BirdGuides have been producing software for birdwatchers for years and we have used
that experience, and the feedback from it, to make BWPi as user-friendly
as possible. This can only be appreciated by using the product but maybe the following
screen-grabs will give an idea of how the two products compare.
The Optimedia product looked like this:
BWPi looks like this:
- All on one disk
Despite having relatively few multimedia assets, the Optimedia version was spread
over 3 CD-ROM disks so it was necessary to keep swapping disks in order to access
all the files. BWPi is on one DVD-ROM disk so no disk-swapping is necessary.
Q. How do I find the species I
A. There are two alternative methods:
- By scrolling down to the species in the Navigator menu. The Navigator allows you
to scroll through by family, or through all the species, in either taxonomic or
- By typing the name of the species in the Search box and clicking the Search button.
If more than one species matches that name (e.g. 'Red-throated'), keep clicking
on the Search button to move through the species that match the name you typed.
Q. How do I find the most useful
references for any species?
A. One way would be to find the most relevant passage of text from BWP
and click on any citations that are mentioned there. By doing this, a pop-up will appear,
giving details of the reference for that citation (e.g. which pages of which volume
of which journal, etc.). If you want a broader list of references for any species then
you can right-click on the text and select Copy all References. This adds a list of
all the references in that account to your computer's Clipboard. You can then paste
this document into a word processor or similar program.
Q. Are recently split species treated
A. Yes. In cases such as Eastern and Western Olivaceous Warbler, where a species
has recently been 'split' into two, the two new species are treated separately with
their own collections of assets (videos, sounds, illustrations, etc.). In each species
the BWP and Concise BWP texts are presented in their original unabridged
state but we have also prepared 'Split Supplement' texts which include only the details
for that 'half' of the split, including a review of recently published information on
Q. Is BWPi available in any
languages other than English?
A. Sorry, but we haven't attempted to translate the 6 million words of
BWP text into any other languages. However, we have made it easy for the species
lists to be viewed in a number of languages so your Finnish friend will have no difficulty
in looking up isokirvinen to find all the assets that the rest of us see under
Richard's Pipit. The languages covered are:
We hope many English birders will like the International option. The standard English
names throughout the product are the same as were used in both BWP and Concise
BWP, in keeping with the names used in the texts. However, some birders prefer
to use names that are more easily understood in an international context, such as Great
Cormorant rather than Cormorant and Sociable Lapwing instead of Sociable Plover. If
you would rather the species menus used these names then you just have to use International
as your choice of language.
Q. Can I find out where the birds were
A. Yes. Every video clip has an associated Information dialog which includes
(if we know it) where, when and by whom the footage was filmed. There's even a search
facility to enable you to find, for example, all the footage shot in Finland or wherever.
This information is particularly useful if you want to know whether a bird is of a particular
subspecies or whether it is at an unusual stage of moult. We should add that we've gone
to some trouble to try to label all the video clips clearly so that if the bird is of
a particular race, the label will say so.
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