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Highland Rookery turns wetlands into a home for birds, outdoor classroom

Crowned heron

Carol Harsh, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Schererville, still uses her first bird log book with bird sightings dating back to 1976.

But Harsh also enjoys the convenience of using bird apps on her phone.

“You answer five questions about the bird — location, size, color, behavior, etc. Behavior is a big part of identifying a bird — was it sitting on a fence? Soaring?” Harsh said. “Or you can upload a photo of the bird and it comes up with a list of possible matches based on your location and time of year.”

Harsh uses the Merlin Bird ID app from Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It’s free and can help identify more than 1,500 birds in North America and Europe. The app is available for both iPhones and Androids.

Steve Sass, director and field trip leader for the South Bend/Elkhart Audubon Society, uses the Sibley Field eGuide to Birds of North America app. It’s $19.99 and is available for both iPhones and Androids.

The app has nearly 7,000 images of 810 bird species and there are more than 2,000 audio recording calls and songs.

“The Sibley Guide is one of the most popular books out there. The app is like having the entire Sibley Field Guide to the Birds of North America in my pocket. Plus, it plays bird songs and calls, which is something that the book doesn't do,” Sass said.

Nathanael Pilla, project coordinator for Save the Dunes, uses the Audubon Bird Guide app. It’s free, has 821 species and has “Find birds with eBird.”

According to the eBird website, eBird is a real-time online database from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. It was launched in 2002 and by May 2015, participants reported more than 9.5 million bird observations across the world.

“eBird is free and it lets you track bird lists and the birds you’ve seen as well as provide pictures and audio,” Pilla said.

This bird app is available for both iPhones and Androids.


Features Editor