Bird watching gets tech

Bird watching gets tech

No longer the preserve of the laidback hippy or the elderly, bird watching has hit the mainstream in the 21st century and South Africa is a popular birding destination as it hosts one tenth of the world's bird species - over 900 in total.

The Kruger National Park is home to the Big Six birds: the lappet-faced vulture, martial eagle, saddle-billed stork, kori bustard, ground hornbill and Pel's fishing-owl. The rest of the country also hosts a wide variety of both large and small birds, from turacos and penguins to ostriches and sunbirds.

Technology has made identifying birds a lot easier with smartphone apps that allow you to search by location or appearance and then let's you compare birds side by side on your screen, with audio files of bird calls, illustrations and photographs to help you make the identification.

The Sasol ebirds app is an interactive version of the best-selling Sasol Birds of Southern Africa field guide. You can select a region of Southern Africa, so that the lists of birds throughout the program display only the birds in your region. The app includes GPS detection of your current location and allows for GPS location tagging of bird sightings. For more, click here.

The Roberts App uses your location, habitat, bird shapes and plumage to identify a bird, as well as  sounds and bird nests and eggs. Click here

The South African National Parks invites birders to share their sightings and questions on their online forum. The forum can be particularly helpful in making tricky identifications of often endangered raptors, as these birds change appearance quite dramatically over their lifetime. Click here.

To keep track of your sightings, Birdlife South Africa provides a free 29-page checklist for South African birds that you can download and print out. Click here.



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