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Birding apps

Smart phones with birding apps are becoming a standard tool for bird watchers

When you’re looking for a birding app for your smart phone, ‘Angry Birds’ doesn’t count. There are dozens of interactive and informational bird watching apps for people who want to learn more about their avian friends.

Bill Thompson is a birding expert, and editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest. He says the first apps that came out were field guide-oriented to use either on their own or in tandem with a printed field guide. They also included bird sounds to help you identify what’s singing or to lure birds in so you can get a better look.

Thompson says technology is constantly improving, and so are the technical capabilities.

"Now increasingly you’re seeing apps that allow you to log your bird sightings, to share them with one of the big online data bases. And also there’s some apps now that allow you to find birds based on sightings that other people have put in," says Thompson. "You can use an app like “Birds Eye” to look at recent sightings of say, brown pelican. And it’ll help you locate places near you where that bird either has been seen or is likely to be seen."

Thompson says when he’s asked to recommend a birding app, it’s like telling someone what car they should buy because there are so many variables. It comes down to personal preference, but there are some key points to consider when you’re looking for a birding app.

"I think the number one thing that most bird watchers look for in an app that they’re going to use out in nature is, is it easy to use? Can I get to where I want to go quickly? So it’s all about utility," says Thompson. "Is it easy for you to use, is the interface something that you get? And that’s really different for everyone. You may try 3-or-4 apps before you find that you think, wow, this one’s really the right one for me."

Not all birding apps are free and some can be rather pricey. If you follow the app developers, you might find a window of time when the apps are offered at a reduced price.

Click here for more tips on finding a birding app

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