5 of the Best Birdwatching Apps in South Africa

Birdwatching, or birding, is not just a pastime; it’s a gateway to a world teeming with life, color, and song. South Africa offers an avian paradise with its vast array of ecosystems—from coastal wetlands to arid savannas—each harboring unique bird species that make a birdwatcher’s heart flutter in excitement.

Best Birdwatching Apps for Southern Africa
FeaturesBirdaBirdlasserSasol eBirdsFirefinchBirdproRoberts Birds
Community     
Field Guide 
Log Birds
Find Birds     
Photo ID    
Bird Calls 
Multi Taxonomy    
Global     
App Store Rating4.64.54.74.74.84.3

But in the digital age, you don’t have to go it alone with just binoculars and a field guide. There are now innovative apps designed to enhance your birdwatching experience, making it easier to identify, log, and learn about the birds you encounter. Whether you’re a seasoned birder or a novice eager to learn, here are 5 of the best birdwatching apps specifically tailored for South Africa’s rich and diverse birdlife.

1. Birda

Birda is a birdwatching app that has been named ‘APP OF THE DAY’ in 148 countries. It is designed to amplify your birdwatching experience by allowing you to log, learn about, and identify the birds you see. The app also encourages you to join fun birding challenges and connect with a friendly community of bird lovers.

Birda is not just a typical bird identifier app. It is a platform that connects birders worldwide, irrespective of how they record their sightings. You can easily sync or import your records from other birding apps like eBird, Merlin Bird ID, Birdtrack, Birdlasser, and more to get started on Birda.
The app is designed for anyone curious about nature and birds, regardless of their level of knowledge or previous bird watching experience. Birda aims to inspire you to enjoy and protect birds. It turns your smartphone into a powerful tool that can help conservationists protect a myriad of bird species.

With Birda, you can find birding locations and the bird species that occur there, use the species guide to identify what you have seen, set and track your personal birding goals, get bird identification suggestions from the Birda community, unlock achievement badges, take part in local and international challenges, and build up your bird life lists by time and location. You can also see what birds your friends, family, or other users have spotted, help the community as a bird identifier, and log sightings and sessions even when you’re offline.

If you are coming from another platform, Birda makes it easy for you to import your records. The app currently supports imports from bird apps like eBird, Merlin Bird ID, Birdtrack, and Birdlasser, with support for iNaturalist, and more coming soon. If you want to move your records to another platform, you are free to export all of your sightings from Birda.

Birda also takes care of your privacy. You can create a privacy zone around your address to automatically hide the location of any sightings you post in your garden. This feature prevents you from disclosing your home address when logging sightings around your home.

In conclusion, Birda is a fantastic app for birdwatchers of all levels. It not only makes birdwatching more accessible and enjoyable but also contributes to the protection of bird species. So, if you are a bird lover or just curious about nature, Birda is definitely worth a try.

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2. Birdlasser

Screenshots of the BirdLasser app on the App Store

Birdlasser is a mobile application designed for birdwatchers, researchers, and conservationists to record and share bird sightings with ease. Available on both iOS and Android platforms, the app aims to make birdwatching a social, educational, and conservation-centric activity. One of its unique features is real-time mapping, which allows users to plot sightings on a map that can be viewed by other members of the Birdlasser community (not in the app though, it is only via their website). Birdlasser contributes valuable data for scientific research and conservation efforts.

Birdlasser offers user-friendly functionalities like the ability to log sightings with photos, audio clips, and textual notes, making it a comprehensive digital journal for birding expeditions. The app however lacks a built-in identification guide so this is unfortunately better suited to very experienced birders. For those interested in community engagement, Birda is a better cuoise as Birdlasser lacks in-app functionality to communicate with other users, join challenges, events, or campaigns.
What sets Birdlasser apart from other birdwatching apps is its strong focus on conservation. The data collected are often used in collaboration with conservation organizations and research institutions, thereby directly contributing to the protection of bird species and their habitats. In summary, Birdlasser is more than just a birdwatching app; it is a platform that combines technology, citizen science, and community engagement to contribute positively to the world of ornithology and bird conservation.

3. Sasol eBirds

Screenshots of the Sasol eBirds Southern Africa app on the App Store
The Sasol eBirds app is a popular mobile application designed for birdwatchers, ornithologists, and nature enthusiasts. Created in collaboration with Sasol, a South African energy and chemicals company, the app is a digital extension of their renowned field guide books. Aimed primarily at users in the Southern African region, it serves as an invaluable resource for identifying and recording bird species.
The user-friendly interface is one of its strongest features, offering an intuitive layout that even novice birdwatchers can navigate with ease. Users can search for birds based on various attributes such as size, color, and habitat, among others. Each bird entry contains a wealth of information, including high-quality images, detailed descriptions, audio recordings of calls, and distribution maps. This makes it easier to positively identify birds and learn about their habits and habitats.
One unique feature is the app’s “Smart Search” function, which allows users to input observed traits to receive a list of possible matches, greatly simplifying the identification process. Moreover, the app supports the very basic functionality for logging of bird sightings and keeping a digital “life list”. The big risk with keeping a life list on Sasol eBirds is that you will loose everything if you were to delete the app as nothing is backed up in the cloud.
Overall, the Sasol eBirds app stands out as a comprehensive and practical tool for anyone interested in birdwatching in Southern Africa. By making the activity more accessible and educational, it furthers both the hobby and the scientific study of ornithology. Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or just getting started, this app offers a convenient and enriching way to engage with the avian world.

Firefinch

Screenshots of the Firefinch app on the App Store
Firefinch is a birding app designed to ignite an appreciation for birds and the landscapes of Southern Africa. The app features illustrations, photos, sounds, maps, seasonal statistics, and helpful tips for nearly 1000 bird species. It also includes regular articles by expert birders, information on birding hotspots, and updates on the latest sightings and events.
The app aims to make birding fun and accessible to all, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced birder. It avoids scientific jargon and overwhelming technical information, presenting key information visually with artistic flair and humor.
The app does not identify birds outright, but instead encourages users to learn how to confidently identify birds themselves. Firefinch is a mix of art and technology, with illustrations and words by author and artist Faansie Peacock. The app is available for download on Android and iOS devices and offers a subscription component for regular updates and new content.

Birdpro

Screenshots of the BirdPro App on the App Store

BirdPro is an award-winning bird identification app designed for bird enthusiasts in South Africa. The app offers a free version with a sample of 100 birds, and users can upgrade to access information on birds from various regions including Southern Africa, South Africa, Kruger National Park, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

BirdPro features over 7700 images, over 2100 bird calls, and over 70 videos, along with comprehensive information on each bird. The app also includes an interactive bird distribution map and names of birds in 16 languages. The SmartSearch function allows users to filter birds by location, shape, type, colors, size, and more.
The app also includes an image recognition feature for South African birds, however, this is a paid for add-on. Users can log their sightings with trip descriptions, date, photos, and notes. The app does not require internet connectivity to operate after installation.

Roberts Bird Guide

Screenshots of the Roberts Bird Guide 2 app on the App Store
The Roberts Bird Guide App is a comprehensive mobile application designed for birdwatchers, nature enthusiasts, and ornithologists interested in the diverse avian species of Southern Africa. This app is a digital companion to the well-regarded Roberts Bird Guide book and serves as a portable, interactive field guide, offering rich multimedia content to enhance the birdwatching experience.
One of the standout features is its expansive database, featuring over 950 bird species, complete with detailed descriptions, habitat information, and range maps. This makes it easy to identify and learn about different species on the go. Users can also benefit from the high-quality photographs and audio recordings of bird calls, aiding in more accurate identifications. The app’s user-friendly interface enables quick and straightforward navigation, allowing birdwatchers to search for birds by name, family group, or even attributes such as color, size, and habitat.
Beyond mere identification, the app offers customizable lists for users to keep track of their sightings, as well as GPS functionality to pinpoint the location of each observation. This functionality is however really limited compared to more advance app such as Birda.
Whether you are a seasoned ornithologist or a casual birdwatcher, the Roberts Bird Guide App serves as an invaluable tool, transforming your smartphone into a pocket-sized bird encyclopedia that enriches your understanding and appreciation of Southern Africa’s diverse birdlife.

Connect to nature and like-minded people while you discover and explore the birdlife around you! Amplify your birdwatching experience with Birda today. 

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