I’ve been told there is a world outside. It has trees, they say, and birds. Lest I be caught unprepared should I ever venture out into this “outside world,” I found three Android apps that are all about birds. One covers Nordic countries, the other is about the birds of Down Under, and the third is for the UK.
I am legally obligated to make an Angry Birds reference here, so all I can say is that none of these apps has pigs in it. Additionally, I was unable to identify the bird from the Twitter logo as appears on our Twitter manual, which was a major disappointment.
We’ll start with the most native-looking of all three apps first. This free quiz features a clean and spacious layout, and two levels of difficulty. The concept is simple: You get a beautiful image of a bird, with three possible answers. Identify the bird correctly, and you score points. If you get it wrong, the game will show you which bird it was. The images are beautiful — some of them feel too beautiful, in the sense that you may not be able to get such a detailed look at a bird in the wild. Also, it lacks any bird sounds.
If the Nordic Birds quiz was a bit game-like, we now find ourselves in more serious bird-watching territory. This app features dozens of Australian birds. The first tab features thumbnails; tapping a thumbnail lets you hear a recording of the bird. This is useful if you have some idea of what bird you may be hearing — randomly running through all of the recordings will not get you very far, since they are numerous.
The next tab, Birdwatching Checklist, consists of a vertically scrolling list of all of the same birds — only now, tapping each bird will pop open a small menu that lets you play its sound, read its Wikipedia article, and run a Google Image search for its name. Both latter options require a connection, which is something you may not have out in the field.
The three last tabs are Guess the Picture, Guess the Sound, and Guess the Name. Of the three, Guess the Sound is the most useful one: The app will play a random bird sound, and give you four options to pick from. This is useful for memorizing bird calls and learning to identify them without use of your phone.
Birds Of Britain ($1)
The last app in this roundup is also the best, though you wouldn’t know it judging by initial impressions. For one thing, when you install Birds of Britain, it downloads many additional images to your device. This requires a connection and takes a long time, and it failed when I tried it for the first time. I then cleared the app’s data, restarted it, and it fully downloaded all images.
Once you’re past the slow image download phase, you get to the UI: It looks like an old iOS app. Really doesn’t fit on a modern Android device. But then when you start looking at the actual information, you will see why this app is worth the buck it costs. It is packed with bird information. The images it downloads are genuinely useful for bird watching, and thanks to the initial download, the app doesn’t require a connection to work and is fast and responsive.
You can browse birds by family, listen to the sounds they make, and read a detailed entry about each bird. The text is clear and authoritative. So while it won’t win any awards in the looks department, Birds of Britain offers exceptional value for UK-based bird watchers.
Tweet Tweet, Chirp
None of these made it into our list of the best Android apps, but the Birds of Britain one could, if only the UI was more native-looking. Did you use these to identify any birds? Share your chirps in the comments!