A birding app with conservation benefits

BirdLasser makes it easy to record your bird sightings with a central database, says Greg Miles.

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BirdLasser is the brainchild of South African duo William Harris and Henk Nel, two avid birdwatchers who wanted to bring the convenience of technology into their favourite pastime. The free app is intended to make birdwatching more interactive, while improving conservation efforts through ‘crowdsourcing’.

As keen birders know, birds are indicators of a healthy ecosystem. When avian species become endangered, there is good reason to take note and make an effort to conserve the environment. This is where an easy-to-use app enters the picture.

“BirdLasser is a fun way to keep track of your own sightings while contributing to conservation causes,” explains Nel. “It’s also important that sightings – particularly in Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) of South Africa – are recorded to ensure the survival of these threatened birds for generations to come.”

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Easy way
The app makes the geo-locational recording of birds as simple as selecting the bird on the screen. It also provides an easy way of submitting your sightings to a central database (SABAP2). An added benefit is that sightings of threatened species are fed through automatically to BirdLife South Africa’s Threatened Species Cause.

As the app’s purpose is sighting and conservation, it does not have a reference library of pictures. This keeps it compact and easy to use. Nel suggests that new birders use it in conjunction with an app that does have photos for identification.

Big Birding day
On 28 November, BirdLasser held a Big Birding Day across South Africa: more than 80 teams across the country logged their sightings during the day. A total of 623 birds were sighted out of a possible 854 species.

Team Zonke iNyoni narrowly edged out Team Hamerkop with 322 species identified compared with the latter’s 311 species. Wat-kyk-jy came third with 289 sightings. The full results are available at bit.ly/bigbirdingday.

Click here for a video of how to take part with BirdLasser.

The app is available for download at iTunes, Google Play and the Microsoft Store (for PCs).