Offline maps

BirdRing default uses Google Maps. However, this only works when there is an internet connection available. To use a map without internet connection, BirdRing can use offline map files that you have preloaded on your device.

You can activate the use of offline maps BirdRing menu: tap the three dots in the upper right corner and then choose Settings. Then you are guided to download a map of the country of your choice. You can also download multiple map files. Map files of some countries can take up quite some space on your phone or tablet. For the largest countries, you can choose to download one or more smaller regional map files instead.

The map files are based on OpenStreetMap data in MapsForge format.

Changes from August 2021:
Soon it is required that Android apps in the Google Play Store have implemented new security standards. In recent versions of Android, the use of files that have been stored on the device has been changed. The purpose is protecting your privacy: prevent apps to view all files on your device.

This means that BirdRing can’t use map files that have been downloaded with older BirdRing versions.

To use offline map files, you must go to Settings in BirdRing  and then create or choose a  folder (directory) for map files. That folder can for security reasons not be the Downloads folder from Android version 10, but you can create a subfolder like Downloads/BirdRing or Downloads/maps. You can also create a folder on a different location or choose an existing folder. If you like, you can move existing .map files to this new folder. Download new map files from BirdRing is also possible of course. Your map files will be completely up-to-date.

Hint: map files can be quite large. Therefore, if you also have other apps that use the same OSM MapsForge map files, choose the same folder for map files in all those apps.

Can I use BirdRing without internet connection?

Yes you can, for most things BirdRing works just fine without an internet connection. So you can use BirdRing on a device without a SIM card. However selecting a location on a map is kind of ‘blind’, as you don’t actually see the map, just your own position.

Of course you can send your observations once you have a Wi-Fi connection to the internet.

Tip: if you have another device (like an iPhone) that has mobile internet, usually you can setup a Wi-Fi hotspot that enables you to access the internet from your Android device that does not have a mobile internet connection itself.

What does ‘previous’ mean on the location screen?

By pressing the button ‘Previous’ on the location screen you copy the exact coordinates of your previous observation to the new observation. That is easier to use and it has another purpose: this is the way in BirdRing to indicate that more ringed birds belong to the same group. These identical coordinates are used to group the observations in one item when you upload the observations to or when the CSV file is automatically processed by researchers.

How can I change my favourite species?

You can learn BirdRing to always show your favourite species first, so you can choose it faster. When you start a new observation, BirdRing first shows your favourite species list. You can remove a species from your favourite list by clicking the star. To add a species to your favourite list, you can add a species in the search screen (through magnifier) by clicking the star.

Why must I manually enter the location?

By request of several researchers the observer is asked to enter the exact location of the observed bird. In certain situations it is very important to know whether the bird has been seen on one side of a road or the other.

When you observe more than one ringed birds in a group, you can choose the “previous” button on the location screen. This will give the new observation the exact same coordinates as the previous one.

There is an option (in settings, see three dots on the main screen) to disable the location screen completely, to make it possible for you to enter observations even faster and easier. The observation will get the coordinates of your own position. Usually not precise enough, but in some circumstances you may prefer faster input above more precision.

How do I choose the right ringing system?

BirdRing supports some general ringing systems and some that are tailored to a specific species. While entering a new observation, BirdRing shows the most common ringing system for the chosen species. By clicking the name of the ringing system on the bottom of the “ring” screen, you can choose another ringing system. When none of the available ringing systems is suitable, you can chose ‘Enter code’. This gives no help but all the freedom to enter a ring code.

How do I use the location description on the Map screen?

When you enter the location of a bird on the Map screen, a red marker is shown. At the same time there may appear a description of the area at the bottom of the screen. You can change it as you like. The description is saved with your observation. This enables you and researchers to quickly identify the location of the observation.

BirdRing uses several sources when it tries to fill the description, in this specific order:

  1. Using a self learning function by BirdRing. You could consider it to be artificial intelligence. 😉 This function uses descriptions that you have manually entered in previous observations. For any new observation within 500 meters from a previous observation, the area description is copied. You can override the suggestion by BirdRing. Then BirdRing will remember the new description with the new coordinates for future observations. This way BirdRing learns the names and borders of your favourite areas just by using it.
  2. Using the ‘Reverse Geocoding’ service offered by Google gives an address based on coordinates. This option is available on most but not all Android devices and only working when you have an active internet connection.

When these three methods don’t give a description, you can (and sometimes must) enter a description yourself.