There’s an App for That!! Cool Nature Apps!
If you are like me, the current circumstances have me venturing outside more and more as the weather improves. Like most people, when I am off the beaten path, I have my phone along for safety and picture taking. I also have several free apps installed on my phone to use while I am discovering in the outdoors. I thought I would share some of my favorites…
What day did you hear the spring peepers first call last year? When did you see the osprey return to their nest? Here is an easy to use application that lets you log your wildlife sightings. This application does not require a photo and it gives you ample room for notes. It also automatically fills in the date and your location to help make your observation recording easier.
Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab
Curious about a bird you saw on a walk, but only can remember a few features? Designed for beginning and intermediate bird watchers, Merlin is a bird ID tool created by Cornell Lab of Ornithology in partnership with Birds in the Hand, LLC, and thousands of volunteer citizen scientists. Choose the place and date you saw the bird, its primary colors, habitat and behavior, and the app will give you photo suggestions of likely matches. Once you choose the photo of the likely bird, you are given a short description, song audio clips and a map of where they are found at different times of the year. On the other hand, if you have a photo of a bird, Merlin will attempt to ID it for you. This app works great!
What kind of plants are growing in your backyard or along the trail you are following? Leafsnap is a virtual field guide that uses visual recognition software to help you identify plants in your area. A joint project by Columbia University, University of Maryland and Smithsonian Institution is helping people identify plants with a photo. Simply take a photo of a leaf, flower, fruit or bark of a plant you would like to identify and Leafsnap will give you suggestions.
iTrack Wildlife Lite
This app can help you identify tracks of animals you see while you are on your adventures. You can put in length and width of the track you found, how many and shape of toes, whether claws are present and if tracks are symmetrical, and the app will give you suggestions for who the mystery track could belong to! Track patterns, track anatomy, gait patterns and how to measure tracks is all covered in a separate tab so you can get better at identifying them on your own.
Get rid of your paper bird list at home and track you bird sightings and see what other local birders are observing anywhere you travel. BirdsEye will give you the 100 most common birds in your current location anywhere in the world!
-Beth Heckman, Assistant Education Coordinator