Updated: Nov 13, 2020
The aim of this series of reviews is to provide an overview of the free applications available to birders. There are a number of excellent paid for applications available which we have run a podcast series on previously (https://bit.ly/2ZECfmQ), however we believe that some birders may not have the resources to access these apps. The review process will be conducted as objectively as possible as there is clearly a great divide between paid for and free applications in this genre. The rating system will only be judged on criteria consistent across all apps namely search functionality, text, photographs and ease of use. Additional points will be added to the total score for extras such as location settings, calls, offline access, distribution maps and listing settings.
As I am an Android user the applications reviewed will be found on Android and hopefully IOS too.
Birds of Southern Africa was created by Doussy Books and Reference which appears to be a South African developer.
Description of the app found on the Play Store:
“Birds of Southern Africa. The app includes 959 different kinds of birds that one can expect to find in the Southern parts of Africa. These birds are from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia and some other as well.” The language can be set to Afrikaans or English bird names.
Android and IOS – only found on Android (September 2020)
Has adverts: Yes
Current Rating on the Android Playstore: 4.7 stars with 9 ratings in total and has more than 1000 downloads.
In order to show consistency, I will search for a relatively well-known species on each app.
Searched for Violet-backed Starling which it suggested after only typing in 3 characters. This is the extent of the search functionality as this application does not offer a smart search feature as some of the other paid applications do.
*Smart Search: This helps the user to identify a species by way of location, shape, colour etc.
The text Links to Wikipedia as per the app description which is adequate given that it is pulled directly from a fairly reputable source. A feature of the application is to be able to change the sizing of the text. The text covers the basics such as description of the species, size, colouration etc.
Once again the photographs, and sometimes plates are pulled from Wikipedia. They are adequate given they are vetted by Wikipedia.
No as it links to Wikipedia (0)
The app design is very simple and straight forward which is to be expected given it is very light on features. The ability to change to size of the text is a plus and you can access bird information relatively quickly provided you know which species you are observing.
· Distribution maps: Only for certain species and not all (0.5)
· Calls available in app: No (0)
· Location settings: No (0)
· Listing settings: No (0)
. Smart ID: Yes (0)
The birds of Southern Africa is a very basic and rudimentary application. If you do not have the means to purchase a bird application, this will suffice. Be aware that you will only be able to make use of this application if you are within wifi or cellular connectivity.