Is that a Purple Gallinule in your pocket, or are you happy to see me?

2016 March 2016 Nature Señior Tech

By Manzanillo Sun Writer from the March 2016 Edition

Birds, bees, mammals, trees; at some point we want to know more about them. On my phone and tablet, I have a number of apps that provide such information.

The National Audubon Society has a number of apps that deal with specific topics; Audubon Trees, Audubon Insects and Spiders, Audubon Wildflowers, Audubon Butterflies, Audubon Reptiles and Amphibians, Audubon Mammals, Audubon Mushrooms and the list goes on. Each app is a field guide complete with photos, habitat, range, season, and discussion. Once purchased and installed, the app does not require internet access to research the data. For example, Audubon Mammals features in-depth information on 273 species with a gallery view for easy search and species comparison. The app has drawings of animal tracks, high quality photos, sounds and range maps. The user can track and annotate personal sightings using the “Journal” feature.

If you are connected, then there are a number of additional options. NatureShare allows you to post photos of Flora and Fauna or view other members’ posts.

The Audubon Bird North America Field Guide (free app) lets the user identify 821 species with
information on appearance, habitat, seasonal and migratory range maps and behavior. Over 8 hours of recorded bird sounds are included. A word of caution: this app is under 100 Megabytes, but if you choose to download all the data for offline use, the app will take up close to 1 Gigabyte of space on your device.

Now the good stuff. If you allow the app access to your location, it will list birds seen nearby in the past 30 days. When I activated the feature, 144 different species sighted in the Manzanillo area were listed. When I clicked on the American White Pelican, there were 2 posted sightings. One was in Barra de Navidad and the other Cuyutlán. The Brown Pelican, on the other hand, listed 50 sightings, a number of them just down the beach from our condo. Of course, we have seen hundreds from our terrace, diving in the water for fish.

As an aside, there were even a couple of Purple Gallinudes sighted by the ZLO airport. When I started this article, I had never heard of a Purple Gallinude, but they apparently are close by.

I also have the iBird Pro Guide to Birds which I purchased years ago for $0.99. This app currently sells for $20.99. It has information on 940 species. What the app lacks is the journal feature, which they sell separately for $21.99. Or you can spend $27.99 for the iBird Ultimate Guide which also includes all the information included in the Pro Guide, the journal app and a “Birds near me” feature. The Audubon Bird Guide discussed above has all of these features, for free. The iBird Pro Guide to Birds presentation may be a bit more polished, but not worth $27.99.

There are currently 12 field guides published by the Audubon Society. Most sell for $6.99 ($4.99 US). They offer their 4 Bird Field Guide apps at no charge. There is no reason that you cannot have a field guide for topics such as Wild Flowers, Fish, Butterflies, Insects, Mammals, Birds, Reptiles or Trees with you at all times on your phone or tablet.

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