Are you a bird nerd? Well, there’s never been a better time to be one.
Smartphone apps for bird-watchers are improving daily. One of our favourites is the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s BirdsEye, an app that allows users to upload recent sitings and pins them to a map, so you can see where particular birds have been spotted recently. You can also search for birds, see photos and descriptions and hear birdsongs and bird calls. It’s pricey ($19.99) but serious birders say it’s worth it. Plus it’s available for iPad, and in a “lite” version ($1.99), which has a fraction of the species of the full version.
Another highly rate app is iBird Explorer, which comes in versions from Pro ($29.99) to Lite (free). Pricier versions cover more species than any other app (924 to BirdsEye’s 857) and produce calls loud enough to draw birds. It also has a Canada-only version.
Both iBird and BirdsEye, however, leave something to be desired in the way of detailed illustrations. Apps from well-respected bird guides like Sibley and Peterson do a better job—with several rich illustrations and photos a for each bird. They also have range maps and photos, but aside from birdsong samples they’re essentially a mobile version of the printed guides.
Bottom line: you may need two of these apps—an interactive tool like BirdsEye and a guide with great illustrations like Sibley—to be completely satisfied.