Notebook, camera, field guide, binocular and a safari hat – we all know the stereotypical image of a bird watcher. However, with smartphones and a wide range of birding apps available, avid birders have it much easier these days. Anyone can be a good birder with a tablet or smartphone – no matter what type or level of bird watcher you are. The following apps will make it easy to track and identify birds, increase your knowledge and impress your friends.
Audubon is your all in one go-to guide for identifying animals and birds on safari. The app covers 164 mammal species, 284 bird species, 24 species of reptiles, and uses photos instead of drawings (unlike most older bird guides) – which makes identification even easier. All images are professional high-quality and colour photographs with in-depth and accurate descriptions of species, appearance and habitat. You can use Audubon to search for birds by shape, common name or family without an internet connection and with real time access anywhere. Additionally, you will be able to share sightings with friends and followers with Audubon NatureShare’s user-friendly interface.
The Newman’s Birds app is the perfect companion for birding in South Africa. The app was launched in 2013 and is based on the 2010 commemorative edition of Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa, which has been one of the most popular and loved birding guides in South Africa since its publication in 1983. The Newman’s app is organised into 12 groups of families according to physical features, feeding habits and habitats. Key features include a range of 975 bird species, 1 000 photographs, more than 1 300 labelled illustrations and 800 bird calls with multiple call types for song, alarm, mating and duet.
The Sasol eBirds of Southern Africa app is an interactive version of the very popular and best-selling Sasol Birds field guide that has been used by families on safari holidays throughout South Africa for many years. Over 950 bird species can be found in the Southern African region with sound clips of the calls for over 630 bird species. Extra features of the app include a nifty “smart search” function that allows birders to identify any bird using habitat, bird colour, beak shape and bird size, as well as a save function to list personal bird finds on your device. If you will be visiting the Kruger, there is a specific Sasol eBirds of the Kruger National Park app available with over 500 species and 1 700 photographs.
Always remember to follow local and regional laws and consider the enjoyment and well-being of birds and other birders before playing back recordings of calls in the field. Also keep in mind that using these apps all day can drain your battery quickly, so be sure to take a portable phone charger with you.
If you want to put these apps to test, book one of our safaris to try out some of the top birding spots that South Africa has to offer for yourself and let us know if you have any good apps to add to the list.