Best Birding Apps for South Africa

Apps have completely changed the way that people bird-watch. I remember my Father taking me birding as a youngster and we would carry along a bag of different bird books to identify what we saw, while I have very fond memories of using the back of a petrol-station receipt to list the birds we saw when we forgot to bring a piece of paper.

But there is no longer a need for such antiquated thinking, nowadays you can just bring along your cellphone.

Bird List

Types of Birding Apps

There are 2 main categories of birding apps that are commonly used, and you should really get at least 1 of each to aid in your birding. These app types are for Identification and Listing.

Identification apps are naturally there to help you identify a bird that you see, while listing apps are there to keep track of the list of birds that you have seen (and more).

Identification Apps

Bird Identification apps are there to replace the need for carrying around bird books whenever you go birding as the main function of a bird book is to help you identify which bird you are looking at, or research a bird you are trying to find. Identification apps fulfil this same function and even support features that would not be possible in a bird book - e.g. multiple photographs of each bird species and sound recordings of each bird's call.

There are a number of great bird identification apps for the South African species so we are really spoilt for choice. Unfortunately, none of them are completely free and they cost about as much as an equivalent bird book. Our top 3 bird identification apps are Sasol Ebirds, Roberts' Bird Guide and BirdPro App.

Our choice for the Best Bird Identification App is Roberts' Bird Guide. Roberts' birds is one of the oldest and most trusted sources of information for Southern African field guides dating as far back as 70 years ago, and their Bird App has assimilated all of this information into a straightforward app that does the job well. Its selection of drawings, photos and bird calls are what set it apart from the other apps which perform similarly, and the information provided for each species is extremely in-depth and will not leave your appetite for knowledge unsatiated.

Robert's Bird Guide app can also be used to track sightings and keep a lifelist, but we find the interface to be finnicky and occasionally buggy, so while we would recommend this app for identification, we would not recommend you use it to keep track of your sightings and bird lists (read below for our recommendation there!).

Roberts Bird App

Listing Apps

Keeping lists of your bird sightings is crucial to your quest to become a better birder and even contribute to citizen science. Birders used to just write their sightings on a piece of paper, but nowadays there is a good selection of bird listing apps that can do this for you, and a lot of personalised and interesting information that can be gleaned from your lists.

There are 2 bird listing apps that really stick out for us: MiBird and BirdLasser..

Our choice for our best bird listing app is MiBird. This app was a real game-changer for our birding as it offers amazing insight into your birding lists that we are yet to see elsewhere. For example, MiBird will evaluate your lists to check if the birds that you have logged are appropriate for your area and can help you figure out when you might have missed a common bird or logged a bird incorrectly.

MiBird is also able to let you research an area and see what other people are logging in that area, while pointing out which birds you may not yet have seen and that you should look out for. This process of finding "Easy Pickings" has become crucial to our research before birding anywhere.

Aside from the above features, MiBird also allows you to store photographs with the sightings you have logged, and easily view and share these sightings, all on the cloud. It even supports a neat "Coverage map" that allows you to visually view areas of the country that you have visited, and where you still need to go.

It's also free to use! Which is great. If you are a bird-watcher, and haven't tried MiBird, we whole-heartedly recommend giving this app a try on your next expedition.

Download MiBird
Twitcher Screens