Have you ever heard a bird singing and wondered what kind of bird it was? Or passed a beautiful flower and couldn’t quite place the name? Wonder no longer. Identifying birds, flowers, trees – even mushrooms – is now a click away with a range of smartphone apps designed to enrich your experience of the natural world.
We all know (and research has proven) that spending time outdoors, close to nature, has a range of health benefits, and is a great way to de-stress and recharge your mental, emotional and physical batteries.
Here’s a roundup of five handy nature apps to help you get the most from your walk on the wild side:
- Plants and Animals (free). iNaturalist Canada. This crowdsourcing app is also a social network for nature lovers that features thousands of species of plants and animals. Simply snap a photo of your natural find, share it on the site and discuss with the community. A partner app, Seek (free), will help you identify the species you come across when you take a hike – just hold your camera up to the species you’re curious about.
- Birds ($14.99). iBird Pro. Recommended by Scientific American magazine, this app covers 926 species of North American birds, and its “iBird Photo Sleuth” add-on will help you identify species from even poor quality photos.
- Trees, plants, flowers, fruits (free). LeafSnap plant identification. The result of collaboration between Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution, this new app can help you identify, and learn about, thousands of trees, plants, flowers, and fruits. Simply take a photo of a leaf, bark or flower and LeafSnap will provide a list of possible matches.
- Bird song ($3.99). BirdGenie birdsong ID. When you hear a bird singing and are curious about what species it is, simply hold up your phone, record the bird singing and this handy app will help you identify it. The BirdGenie database includes up to 200 vocalization types for 100 North American species that are most likely to appear in your backyard, park or on a hike at any time of year.
- Mushrooms (free). Shroomify Canada. Select the characteristics of the wild mushroom you’re looking at and this app will draw on its database of over 400 common fungi and 1,000 images to help give you an ID. Other useful info includes the edibility of all mushrooms listed, and a geo-targeted dataset that shows only the mushrooms that grow in your area.