Garmin Announces BirdsEye Satellite Imagery



  • Wow, that is cool. I always thought this would come to the Oregon one day. They set the stage earlier with the Custom Maps feature.

    Here's a link at

    The first time I tried this, I got an error message saying the page didn't exist. Is it not "official" until next Tuesday?
  • I don't think it will be announced until Tuesday. I think the page accidentally went live early.
  • $30 is very reasonable IMO for an "all you can eat" subscription. This looks like a shot across the bow for DeLorme. If the service is any good I'd think it could be a real threat to them.
  • I'm not sure... the DeLorme all you can eat subscription also includes b&w aerial imagery (which is often easier to see on the screen), all of the NOAA marine charts, all of the USGS 24k topo maps, etc. So the DeLorme subscription is still a better value based on the maps available.
  • Ah, didn't realize that. But now that Garmin has the mechanism in place, they can offer an products they like in the future. Certainly will make things more interesting, and provide another reason for people to update to the newer handhelds.

    Here's the info from that webpage, in case it is no longer showing up - sometimes it works for me, other times it doesn't
    BirdsEye™ Satellite Imagery

    Part Number: 010-D0699-00
    Suggested Retail Price: $ 29.99 USD

    Transfer high-resolution satellite imagery to your Garmin handheld device to get a true representation of your surroundings with a subscription to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery.

    Use your BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription with BaseCamp™ software to transfer an unlimited amount of satellite images to your Garmin device and seamlessly integrate those images into your handheld’s maps whenever you need them.

    Transfer an unlimited number of satellite and aerial images to your device with this subscription and free software BaseCamp™.

    High-resolution sub-meter color satellite imagery captures the world in brilliant clarity and detail.

    Allows you to layer the Garmin vector maps on your handheld (such as TOPO 100K, TOPO 24K or City Navigator®) with BirdsEye Satellite

    Imagery for a real-life view of roads, buildings and terrain.

    Makes it easy for hunters to perform preseason scouting, determine placement of stands and locate game pinchpoints.

    Helps hikers and campers find trails/trailheads and clearings for camping areas.

    Lets geocachers determine the terrain type around a cache and identify parking areas close to the caches.

    Allows travelers to view tourist hot spots and landmarks from an aerial view to make excursions memorable without getting lost.


    File Information
    The file size of this download varies based on amount of area selected. Downloads may be stored to internal memory or SD™ card.

    Use with 1 Device Only
    This subscription may only be used with 1 compatible, registered device. The device must be registered in myGarmin to activate the subscription on that device. Please purchase additional subscriptions for additional devices.

    Download Times
    Not for use with dial-up Internet access or satellite Internet providers. Download times may vary based on area selected.

    Product Compatibility
    Check the Products tab to see whether this map is compatible with your Garmin device. Map subscriptions are non-refundable and non-transferrable.

    Expiration Date
    The subscription lasts 1 year from the activation date. You will need to renew subscription after 1 year.

    Minimum Requirements
    You must have Garmin's free software BaseCamp™ (version 3.0.0 or later) installed on your computer before you can use this subscription. You also need a myGarmin account. If you do not have one, we will require you to create one during the purchase process.

    Windows® XP SP2 or newer
    1 GB RAM
    at least 1024 x 768 display
    USB port
    Internet access
    Any Intel-based or PowerPC G4 or later Mac OS®
    OS X 10.4.11 or later
    1 GB RAM
    at least 1024 x 768 display
    USB port
    Internet access
  • Ah, didn't realize that. But now that Garmin has the mechanism in place, they can offer an products they like in the future.
    True. Of course they can-- the question is will they. Right now they have a model whereby they offer a model without maps (300) and a nearly dentical hardware with topo maps (400t) for $100 more (MSRP). So if they started including topo maps with the map subscription, they might essentially be giving away $70 in revenue they are getting now. Perhaps they will.

    DeLorme's $30 map subscription basically gets you almost any type of map DeLorme offers.

    • Vector topo base map with 100k contours, routable roads, etc.
    • USGS 24k topos
    • b&w aerial imagery
    • color aerial imagery
    • NOAA marine charts including the Great Lakes
    • Canada topos (new)
    • high res city imagery (higher res than the standard color aerial imagery)
    • Sat 10 imagery (low res).
  • Something else that looks like a DeLorme advantage is their notion of "hybrid" maps. You can view an aerial image on the GPS and have vector data like waypoints, roads, and controur lines layered on top of the aerial imagery. So you can view the aerial image on the map and not loose the topo data. Garmin looks to be layering waypoints, but not any roads nor contour data. That should be possible, but none of their screenshots show it.
  • Well when you make your own Garmin "custom maps", all polyline and point features from the active vector based maps are overlaid on them. Polylines include roads, rivers, streams, boundaries and contour lines. Points include waypoints and POI's. Polygon features, like lakes and parks are hidden by the raster image.

    I guess we will have to see how these new maps behave after they are released.
  • I suspect they will... just seems strange that none of the screenshots show it.
  • Some excerpts from Garmin's press release:

    BirdsEye Imagery is raster-based, meaning it is compiled using actual aerial photos and images that are scanned, geo-referenced and overlaid onto the handheld GPS receiver’s display. Unlike vector cartography, the resulting images depict actual buildings, vehicles, roads, trails, and land features found nearby – giving explorers a unique understanding of their surroundings.

    The images are among the most highly-detailed available – offering 0.5 meter per pixel resolution in many areas of the United States. Users can also view imagery at every zoom level – from 12 miles to 20 feet – unlike other offerings that force users to stay at pre-determined zoom levels. BirdsEye Satellite Imagery also lets users overlay vector maps, to get a better idea of terrain contours and points of interest. The data is collected by DigitalGlobe, a leading global provider of commercial high-resolution world-imagery products and services.

    In practice, BirdsEye Satellite Imagery can help make time afield more productive and enjoyable. Hunters can easily identify potential tree stand locations, draws, and natural game funnels. Hikers can quickly locate trailheads, campsites, and scenic vistas. Geocachers can better assess terrain difficulty and parking areas close to caches. Even tourists and travelers can navigate amusement parks or historical battlefields like never before.

    This imagery can be displayed on Garmin’s Oregon®, Dakota™, and Colorado® series of outdoor navigators. An annual subscription is $29.99, and it allows the user unlimited downloads for a single Garmin device. Customers use Garmin’s free BaseCamp™ application ( for the PC or Mac to quickly load and easily manage BirdsEye data. For armchair trip planning and review, subscribers can view the same BirdsEye imagery on their PC or Mac when their applicable device is connected.

    BirdsEye Satellite and Aerial Imagery will be available in March 2010. For more information, visit
  • unlike other offerings that force users to stay at pre-determined zoom levels.
    I'm trying to figure out who they are talking about... Lowrance? Bushnell?
  • Or Garmin's own "Custom Map" feature...

    I tried making some Magellan raster imagery awhile ago, and it only displays at 3 zoom settings, which are determined by the resolution of the image. You can put multiple images at different resolutions into the same file and they will be displayed as you zoom in and out to the appropriate settings.
  • Hmm... only a few days left in March and still no BirdsEye. Several days ago on Twitter, a Garmin employee posted they were still on track to release in March. The product page at still says "Available March 2010".

    Oh well, I guess we will know in time for April Fools Day. :wink:
  • I was traveling all day yesterday, but it looks like Garmin delivered BirdsEye was promised yesterday. There is new firmware available and also a new issue of BaseCamp. I have not tried either, but evidently you can access the service using the new BaseCamp.

    Looking forward to some user reports... I am not gonna be the first one to try this. :)
  • Australia got this just before we did. Now available for purchase/download in the US store too.

    Important: The latest firmware for your Dakota/Oregon/Colorado, PLUS the latest version of BaseCamp (3.x) is required to use the Birdeye subscription.
  • There was a question whether this was compatible with the Dakota 10. It is.
  • Have you subscribed already Gator? :D
  • Yup. Do I need it? No. But can't answer the questions if I haven't seen the images. :wink:

    As a couple of early subscribers have mentioned, they do appear "washed out" but it makes perfect sense when layering with mapsets. I've only taken the time to download my immediate neighborhood as a test. Looked passable, but certainly nowhere near as crisp and clean as sat images on my Droid. If I do the Florida Trail hike thru the GreenSwamp this fall, I'd definitely use the sat overlays on my Dakota. I'm sure my son would also use them at Kissimmee State Park later this month on a trail ride (which reminds me to finish a bike trail map). But to be honest I could get by just fine without them.
  • edited April 2010
    I just played briefly with the free "teaser" downloads in BirdsEye. Here are some comparative examples from Batsto village, which is a restored 18th century village in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.

    The NJ 2007 Orthoimagery is of exceptional quality (1 foot per pixel) and can be downloaded for free from the NJGIN website. I have been using it to make Garmin custom maps and have uploaded several to GPSFileDepot already.

    The BirdsEye imagery definitely comes from this same source here in NJ. No doubt it was cheaper to get it from the state than a private company (or maybe it could even be used for free?). The quality is only slightly lower, and I'd say they have lived up to their promise of sub-meter resolution. Very nice!

    In comparison, the Google image (shown at the maximum zoom setting) looks pretty pathetic. :lol:




    Note: this post has been edited to remove earlier mis-information. :)
  • I need to update an earlier post I made. Yesterday afternoon I dropped by home, loaded up Basecamp and got the pop-up that my Dakota10 was compatible with Birdseye and did I want to download imagery (forgot the exact verbage). Requested the sample image to be sent to my Dakota, and while waiting, added the subscription to my cart, planning to "check-out" later in the day if the image looked OK on my device. Long story short, I was unable to complete the transaction last evening. It asks that I register my device, which of course I had previously done several months ago. I'm not sure if the issue is on my end, or more likely Garmin's. There's a possibility that they may have made the decision not to offer BirdsEye to the Dakota 10. If so it's marketing only as the application and BirdsEye updates were applied just fine and there's no difference in the firmware version for the Dakota 10 and 20. With Garmin closed today, I may not be able to get clarification before Monday. Other than inability (so far) to activate the subscription, BaseCamp and downloading satellite imagery works just the same as with the Oregons as far as I can tell. Just wanted to give a heads-up to any other Dakota 10 owners.
  • edited April 2010
    Wow Gator, that's too bad. Hopefully it's just a glitch. It should not have let you make the purchase until it verified that your unit was compatible (which it evidently did). Let us know how it works out.

    Looking some more, the imagery for my part of New Jersey is definitely based on the NJ 2007 Digital Orthophotography available from the state. This is very high quality 1 foot per pixel data but they have reduced that considerably.

    [edit] - this is not true actually - see below!
  • Boyd. just cofirming. You are downloading "highest" image quality, correct? The image download for my neighborhood at "highest" is really pretty good, at least in BaseCamp. Much cleaner/sharper compared to the image you've posted.

    As for the subscription, they haven't taken my money yet. I can do everything advertised, except transfer the selected hi-res image to my device. Downloading into BaseCamp not an issue. Transferring lower res sample worked too.

    But that's OK. I still got's me Droid for sat images. 8)
  • OK Gator, I'm an idiot. :oops: I was using "high" quality; didn't realize there was a "highest". It is definitely the NJ 2007 imagery, but the quality is only slightly less than the original 1 foot per pixel data. Here's an updated pair of screenshots.


    And it's pretty cool because you don't even have to subscribe to load imagery into Basecamp. I didn't realize you could resize the little postage stamp sized window to something larger. When I selected a 1GB area it told me that was too large though. :)
  • I'm going to circle this date on my calendar. The only day I've ever been able to correct Boyd on a handheld question. :mrgreen:
  • That is only because you're still learning... I suspect you will be able to circle quite a few more days on your calendar now that you're a "member of the club". :D

    I have also updated my screenshots in the earlier post here. Birdseye looks great and fulfills their promise of sub-meter resolution. Bravo Garmin! Now, just FIX THE STREETNAME BUG and I will be ready to get out my credit card.
  • I am getting the selected area for the BirdsEye map to come up as a Birds Eye View on the Base Camp. Looks real nice but I cant get it to my oregon 200. Selected Standard detail, #of images 56, # of images complete 56, Area of coverage 16 Sq. miles. Says download complete. There is a redX by the Download failed column. Thanks for any help, Bud
  • Did you purchase a subscription? I have not, but was able to send a 1 square mile demo image to my Oregon 400t without trouble. It took longer than I expected to send the file. The system indicated the data had been sent, but when I tried to quit Basecamp it said it was still sending the file. A little later I was able to quit. When starting up the Oregon, I got an error message about "invalid basecamp file" but it worked anyway.

    Are you sure the entire BirdsEye image downloaded to your computer? When you click on the image, look at the Properties box at the bottom of the screen. There''s a green progress bar while the download is in progress. I had one download hang halfway through. If you right-click the BirdsEye icon in the left-hand pane, you can stop the download and start it over from the beginning. This worked for me on the second try.

    You could try posting in Garmin's forums here, and also send an e-mail to tech support describing the problem:
  • Thanks Boyd
    The Download Again trick worked fine. It took 13 minutes to download a 16 sq. mile area at the High Detail. 700 images at 8MB. My Oregon 200 is only good for 24MB. Does this mean that I can do an area 3 times this big?
    If so that is only an area about 7 miles X 7 miles. I am scratching my head because Jolly Roger sent me a micro SD card that covers an area about 20 miles X 15 miles on my Oregon 200. Does this mean that I would have to drop to the lower detailed download to get that 20 mile X 15 mile image? Thanks, Frogman
  • Hadn't thought about that before, but the Oregon 200 is odd since it essentially has no internal memory (24MB doesn't really count these days :) )

    That is not usually an issue since you can put a 4GB micro SD card into the unit and store all you want there. Do you have a memory card inserted?

    However, for some reason BirdsEye wouldn't let me send the imagery to the memory card. When I chose the card, nothing happened. I had to select internal memory. Others also reported this problem, and the "fix" was to download to internal memory, then move the file to a memory card. But with only 24 MB internal memory, you won't be able to load much of anything.

    Try saving the download to a memory card and see if it works for you. If not, then you should contact Garmin tech support.
  • Thanks Boyd. I had plans to load a couple or 3 whole states on SD cards. If I have to load a 10 mile X 10 mile area at a time this will turn into a career. Maybe thats how they keep you on the $30 a year plan. Just let you load a bit at a time. Bud
  • Hopefully it's just a bug in the first release of the software. There are a number of rough edges, but it looks like it will be a great new service once these are smoothed out.
  • With Garmin closed today, I may not be able to get clarification before Monday. Other than inability (so far) to activate the subscription, BaseCamp and downloading satellite imagery works just the same as with the Oregons as far as I can tell. Just wanted to give a heads-up to any other Dakota 10 owners.
    Gator: were you able to activate your subscription and/or get any clarification about BaseCamp support on the Dakota 10?
  • I didn't have time to call them yesterday. I'll see if I can get to it this afternoon.
  • Sorry to have ignored this. :oops:

    No, the Dakota 10 will not be compatible with BaseCamp.

    By the way, take a gander at an excellent video where DigitalGlobe, the sat image supplier for BirdsEye, explains how their images are gathered, what info can be gleaned from them, and just how accurate their location data is.

  • No, the Dakota 10 will not be compatible with BaseCamp.
    I think you mean BirdsEye and not BaseCamp, right? Too bad Gator :( . I wonder what the logic is for that? Seems a bit arbitrary to me...
  • Thanks for the correction Boyd. Yes, that's what I meant.

    The problem according to Garmin is the lack of an SD card/expandable memory. In essence a marketing decision IMHO, as I've got quite a bit of unused storage still. 850mb is sufficient to load a lot of mapping and still have sat images for your specific treks.
  • Doesn't make much sense to me. And I was not able to send a BirdsEye download to the SD card in my Oregon when I tried - nothing happened - but it worked for internal memory.

    Was reading a report from an Oregon 200 owner somewhere, and he couldn't save to the card either, which was a problem since the 200 has (essentially) no internal memory.

    They need to do a little more homework on BirdsEye before it's ready for primetime...
  • Just pulled the trigger and subscribed, after updating my Oregon to the new firmware and seeing all the labels re-appear on the map.

    Here's something I haven't seen mentioned before. Turns out that I had never registered my Oregon, so it required me to before purchasing BirdsEye. Upon completing registration I got a coupon code for a 10% discount at I was able to apply this to the BirdsEye purchase so my final price was only $26.99. :D

    So now I'm in the process of transferring 144 square miles of highest quality imagery that I've downloaded over the past week. As others have said, this seems to be a slow process with no feedback from the program. There is no progress bar and no clue whatsoever that the transfer is taking place. But if I try to quit I get a warning that a transfer is in progress. I can see the files are being written if I look at the Garmin directory on the Oregon, although they did not appear there for awhile.

    [a little later]
    Actually that didn't take as long as I had feared, maybe 15 minutes to send 450MB of imagery to the Oregon. Looks fine on the GPS, and the detail seems to max out at 80 ft zoom level, which is the same as in BaseCamp. The Oregon will let you zoom in to 20 feet but it gets pretty blurry looking at that scale.

    Map scrolling and zooming is surprisingly responsive on the Oregon, at all zoom levels. This is very different from the "custom maps" I've made which only work in limited range of zoom levels and can feel pretty sluggish.

    So everything seems to be working. BaseCamp never gave me any indication that the files had completed transfer. Looking at the directory I noticed that the files were no longer growing, so I tried quitting BaseCamp again and it no longer warned of an active transfer. I hope Garmin will add some kind of progress indicator to a future BaseCamp update so we can tell what is happening with the file transfers.
  • heres what I found while browsing the Garmin FAQs

    Question: Can you send the BirdsEye mapping to an external memory card?

    When downloading satellite imagery for a chosen region, the user will be given the option to send the imagery directly to the device after downloading or simply keep in BaseCamp without downloading to a device. If a user would like to load satellite imagery to a microSD card, it is important to not send the satellite imagery to the device after downloading.

    Once the download is complete, please locate the chosen region on the left hand side of the BaseCamp screen.

    When you have located the region, please follow the steps below:

    Right click on the file name
    Highlight "Send To"
    Left click on the drive that represents your microSD card
    BaseCamp will then begin the file transfer process. When complete, the satellite imagery will then reside on your microSD card.

    Last modified on: 03/30/2010
  • Have you tried this, and did it work? I have downloaded quite a lot of BirdsEye imagery myself, over 1GB. So far I'm very impressed with the service but it certainly has a few rough edges.

    I have not tried to send any of the imagery to my memory card, only internal memory. But I am going to have to move everything to the memory card because I'm out of space in internal memory!

    Reading Garmin's forums, a number of people are complaining about frequent crashes and slow program response. I really haven't seen these problems yet myself, and I think this may be due to the fact that I'm running a 64 bit system.
  • No I didn't try it yet Boyd. I am just kinda learning this stuff. Thought I would leave this to U pros. Maybe my above post has already been tried, I dont know. Just thought it might be worth posting just in case.
  • Quite possible it now works as it should. One of the changes in the last application was for SD card use. Unfortunately, as the very proud owner of a Dakota 10, I can't check it myself. :)
  • I hope it is working or I will be screwed until it is. My oregon 200 only has 25MB memory. I load an area 7 miles X 7 Miles (50 sq. mi.) and I am done for internal memory.
  • Could someone give me a ballpark figure of how big of an SD card would be require to put the state of Minnesota on at the BirdsEye High Detail range?
  • I hope it is working or I will be screwed until it is. My oregon 200 only has 25MB memory. I load an area 7 miles X 7 Miles (50 sq. mi.) and I am done for internal memory.
    I just tried, and it is no problem to move your imagery to a memory card. When you download the image, be sure NOT to check the option for automatically sending it to the GPS. Then, when the download is complete, right-click on the image name (in the lower left pane) and choose your storage card as a destination. I have a 4GB card in my Oregon and it worked as expected.
  • Could someone give me a ballpark figure of how big of an SD card would be require to put the state of Minnesota on at the BirdsEye High Detail range?
    How's your math? :) Yesterday I downloaded one 233MB file at highest quality that covered 78 square miles. Just doing the mental arithmetic says that a gigabyte would cover ~300 square miles. Minnesota is about 87,000 square miles. You may need to wait a little while for 300gb memory cards to get cheap. :D

    Now you said "high" instead of "highest". I have not really been interested in those, but when just looking quickly, they seem to be about 1/3 the size of highest quality. If so, then you would probably need a 128GB card, if you can find (or afford) one.

    It is not clear to me whether you can actually access that much data on the GPS with BirdsEye. It would need to be a lot of smaller files. As I understand, there's a limit of 20,000 tiles per image. My largest download has been 13,000 tiles and it was 200MB. But I guess file size varies because I have another image with less than 11,000 tiles and it uses 233MB.

    I *can* say that it would take you a LONG time to download anywhere near that much data. Like... months.
  • Hi Boyd. How big of a state are you covering with a 4 GB card?
  • State? Haha very funny.

    I have given you the rough numbers in my post. Figure 300 square miles per gigabyte for highest quality and 900 square miles per gig for high quality. These are just rough estimates. You can do your own tests too.

    Now do a google search for the size of different states. You will see that Rhode Island is about 1,500 square miles. So you probably couldn't fit all of that on a 4GB card at highest quality.
  • Well that was fun Boyd. Just crunching the numbers comes up to an SD card for Minnesota of about 250 GB. You got one in your pocket? Thanks, Bud
  • Sorry Boyd. I missed that rough estimate for Sq. mileage that you sent me. I think your Email and Mine passed each other in cyber space. But I see it now.
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