The Iberian Peninsula is the funnel of one of the most important bird migration routes in the world —from the Scandinavian Peninsula to South Africa—, which makes it a perfect territory to spot all kinds of birds. Spain is also the second European country with the greatest variety of birdlife: more than 600 species have been registered in the latest bird guide prepared by the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/Birdlife). This environmental NGO, founded in 1954, is the representative of Birdlife International in Spain, a federation that brings together associations dedicated to the conservation of birds from all over the planet.
As Pablo de la Nava, ornithologist and SEO/Birdlife technician, explains, any time of the year is good for bird watching, “although spring is when they are most exhibited.” “It is the breeding and breeding season, and the songs of the males can be heard to attract the females.”
One of the objectives of this NGO is to encourage citizen participation in the preservation of biodiversity and, to this end, they have developed different mobile applications that modernize the traditional field notebook in which ornithology professionals and enthusiasts collect information about these animals. From apps to become an expert on avian songs to encyclopedias with all kinds of information, to versions for monitoring that help the census and the protection of endangered species. In addition to facilitating the observation and identification of birds, these digital tools and the data collected by their users help scientists to x-ray the state of their habitats and plan the necessary conservation actions.
Mobile applications have become, along with binoculars, the essential material for bird watching. Here are some of the most used, available for both iOS and Android systems.
Available in a desktop version and in a mobile application, Spain’s Bird Guide is the most complete tool created by SEO/Birdlife. An encyclopedia of birds that offers relevant information on the life and behavior, distribution and conservation status of the more than 600 species that, regularly or occasionally, are present in Spanish territory. It also provides routes through 25 enclaves of great ornithological importance. The information in text is completed with sound and graphic resources: songs, videos, photographs, illustrations and maps.
eBird is the world’s premier birding app, available in 41 languages. Developed by the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology (Ithaca, New York), its millions of observations around the planet have made it the largest ornithological database. Thanks to this information registry, it has been possible to create other applications such as Merlin Bird ID and Birdnet, which identify birds using the mobile’s camera and microphone.
Avefy is perfect for practicing identifying birds by their songs. SEO/Birdlife regularly updates this mobile tool that provides the songs of 140 species of the most common birds in Spain and a search engine for species and habitats. The organization has been carrying out specific censuses since 2004, which have made it possible to discover the evolution of the populations and their state of conservation.
Avizor is very useful for learning to count birds. By means of a game of virtual censuses, it allows practicing the count of individuals for the moments in which the user encounters large groups of birds. It provides three levels of training from lower to higher difficulty —according to the number of birds to be counted— and a competition mode. Another tool to learn by playing and aimed at the little ones is Play with the Birds, which provides up to nine activities for colouring, matching pieces, forming pairs or recognizing nests.
In the case of the Bird Tracking App, its use is limited to the voluntary participants of some of the tracking programs carried out by SEO/Birdlife. Programs such as Sacre, Noctua or Sacin have become a key tool for collecting data on the trends of different bird species in Spain over the years.
The Census App is more specific and allows you to record all the locations of bird colonies and territories during the breeding season and their roosts. The registry of their nesting places is very useful to protect these species, avoid the destruction of their nests and the disappearance of their breeding places. This initiative is part of the SEO/Birdlife SOS Nidos urban project.
For the census of aquatic birds, the most useful application is the Aquatic App, which allows you to record and consult the species of all the wetlands in Spain. It has a census history going back 50 years. The data is provided in the form of tables, graphs and maps. It also includes a guide that allows you to locate the closest wetlands on field trips.
From SEO/Birdlife they recommend the ICAO App to record the mortality of birds in coastal regions, an action coordinated by the Seabirds Working Group of the environmental organization. This information is very useful to identify conservation problems of the seas and coastal sections with threats to the fauna and the species that suffer from them. There are also similar apps for registering rare, scarce and exotic birds.
The Natura Alert application focuses especially on the registration of threats in areas declared as Important Areas for the Conservation of Birds and Biodiversity (IBAs) and allows knowing the state of conservation. The NGO has identified 469 IBAs in Spain following a series of scientific, standardized and quantitative criteria that allow locating the best preserved bird populations.
Lastly, the Infrastructure Mortality App allows users to report the finding of birds or any other species of injured or dead fauna in any type of infrastructure, mainly on roads, railways, power lines, wind farms and glass buildings. In this way, the identification of black spots is facilitated and it allows monitoring of the fauna most affected by infrastructures.
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