Darwin's finch.

On your next trip to Galapagos, don’t forget to bring your SmartPhone!  You can be CDF’s “eyes and ears” as you visit these beautiful islands – after all, our ornithologists are very talented but they can’t be everywhere at once.  We are working hard to find out as much as possible about our native and endemic Galapagos land birds; where are their habitats, how they are doing.  These two brand new Apps will mean you can feed lots of information to our project via one App – which birds you have seen, where and when you saw them, what they were doing – as well as learn more about the birds found in Galapagos from the second App.   

The CDF Landbird team, in coordination with the GNPD and with funding from Galapagos Conservancy, worked with Birds In The Hand, LLC to create the recently-launched "BirdsEye Galápagos", an App for users to learn about birds in Galapagos. See our press release about the launch of the App here. The second App, eBird, can be used to upload monitoring data from observations made in the field.

The BirdsEye application.
The BirdsEye application.

Perhaps you wondered how this BirdsEye Galapagos App, the App with all the info, was created. How was its remarkable content collected? How many people were involved? What’s it like to merge science, tourists, and technology? Well, CDF scientist Birgit Fessl explains a bit of behind-the-scenes aspects as to how these two Apps came about and what it was like for an ornithologist to enter the tech world and came out with Apps for science in Galapagos.

This BirdsEye Galapagos App is the result of several of CDF’s remarkable collaborations. Birgit tells us that all the recordings used in the App were collected by CDF collaborator Erwin Nemeth, who works on studying the dialects of Galapagos finches as well as many other aspects of the project. Years of study and recording meant that the App contains a feature for using these recordings to recognize birdsongs. (But Birgit says, always use headphones when listening to them in the field so as not to confuse the birds around you!)

Flycatcher.  Photo by: Sam Rowley/CDF.

For the pictures used in the Apps, Michael Dvorak, another CDF collaborator in bird monitoring, was a wonderful asset. Since 1997 he has been passionate about the collection of baseline data for landbirds. Through his work and his photographic skills, we are now collecting this baseline data and images of the birds are available for audiences all over the world. His photos supplemented Birds In The Hand’s collection of bird images on mainland Ecuador.

It’s been a long process, but the Apps continue to improve and receive (automatic) updates. “We are also excited that a Spanish version of the BirdEye Galapagos will soon be released, so that the App can be used by a wider variety of citizen scientists and interested travelers.”

Shorebirds. Photo by: Sam Rowley/CDF.

When asked what it was like to work with people from such a different world (the tech world that is), Birgit replied, “It was really great! Birds In The Hand already had a good link between tech and science and it made working with them very easy and productive". She says the collaboration was natural and that it was a joy to work with them – despite the million and millions of emails exchanged to bring this App to life.

Whether you’re traveling to Galapagos and want to collect data for the project, or simply wanting to see what it’s like from the comfort of your home, these free Apps are great additions to your phone. If you are traveling to Galapagos and want to be part of this project via the Apps, we recommend you download it before arriving in the islands; the internet moves at Giant Tortoise speed. The CDF team certainly looks forward to seeing your data!

Looking to make your phone cooler? Download the BirdsEye Galapagos app here:

Apple Store (Iphone)

Google Play (Android)

Looking for more information to make your brain fuller?

More information about the Landbird Program.

Crater of Alcedo Volcano, Isabela Island.

If you would like to see the world from the comfort of your house, we have good news.  Through the new project 'Galapagos 360', you can view spectacular images of the islands without leaving your chair.  New geographic technology, online accessibility of large amounts of information and recent growth of interest in citizen science have come together to present a unique opportunity.  In association with other institutions, this project will develop the tools that will serve in future as a platform for the development of inbestigations, education and citizen science in the archipelago.

The Galapagos Street View Project was begun in 2012 with the idea to provide the scientific community and the world with panoramic, georeferenced, 360-degree images of the Galapagos, freely available through the Google Street View platform.

IT team working to improve connectivity at CDRS.

Do you take your internet connection for granted?  Can you remember what it was like in the days of slow dial-up connections?  That's a bit like how it is in Galapagos now. 

Our internet connection has to make the 600-mile journey from mainland Ecuador and then get through cabling and connections that suffer from minor earth movements, salty environment, and marauding wildlife.  So we are really grateful to the incredible efforts of a team of experts from the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC), in collaboration with the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP). Thanks to them, the CDF now has a re-wired and re-configured IT network at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS), as well as improved wireless connectivity.

Foto por: NSRC.

All this work means improved network performance and communications for the visiting scientists and support staff, working in this incredibly remote part of the world where good Internet is hard to come by.

The NSRC funded the travel costs and time for the team to work at CDRS for an entire week, and donated 300 kilograms of new networking equipment, fiber optic cables and connectors for the CDRS network. CDF staff couldn’t spend five minutes walking outside without seeing one of the team members run or zoom by on their bikes working between the buildings of the research station. From the marine biology lab on the sea shore to the invertebrates lab at the top of the hill, this remarkable team worked incredibly hard in every corner of the CDRS, their only aim being to improve the physical infrastructure of our station’s connections and improve our Internet services.

Foto por:  NSRC.

The team that carried out the infrastructure improvements included from NSRC Carlos Armas, David Teach, Jeff Hite and Ermanno Pietrosemoli (ICTP), experts with extensive experience helping build Internet infrastructure all over the world to improve scientific capabilities, particularly in remote areas such as the Galapagos. 

The international team worked closely with CDF staff members Jesús Jiménez, Israel Castro, Luis Cobos and Francisco Martínez, now with Galapagos Endemik Technologies. 

CDF Geographic Information Systems, Jesús Jiménez says: "The IT team worked very well, covering access to most of the campus of the station. The internal network is much better now, and I see an improvement in web browsing and internal administration. With this investment and proper maintenance of equipment, CDF can ensure some stability to improve the quality and range of services offered to scientists."

(From left to right) Ermanno Pietrosemoli, Carlos Armas, Jeff Hite, Israel Castro, David Teach, Luis Cobos and Francisco Martinez.
(From left to right) Ermanno Pietrosemoli, Carlos Armas, Jeff Hite, Israel Castro, David Teach, Luis Cobos and Francisco Martinez. Foto por:  NSRC.

Without a doubt, this endeavour is appreciated by all CDF staff, visiting scientists, collaborating scientists, and anyone who in the future shall work at the CDRS. Improving our connections allows us to continue our vital work that aims to protect and conserve this gorgeous Galapagos Archipelago.


The BirdsEye Galapagos application.

The Galapagos Landbird Conservation Program, conducted by the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD), is developing strategies to monitor and assess the status of landbird species in Galapagos.

Thanks to the teamwork of Birds In The Hand, LLC, CDF, the GNPD and the support of Galapagos Conservancy, "BirdsEye Galápagos" is officially launched this week. This is a new application that will support the identification of birds in the archipelago. The application is free and is available in Apple and Android  versions in English, a Spanish version will soon be accessible.

CDF and GNPD have worked together with Birds In The Hand, LLC not only to make this application user friendly and to assist in the identification of bird species in Galapagos, but also the application provides the user with interesting facts about the unique birdlife in the islands and the conservation efforts being carried out in this amazing World Heritage Site.

The BirdsEye welcome screens.
The BirdsEye welcome screens.

Birgit Fessl, Charles Darwin Foundation ornithologist, who has been leading the development of the content of the app, said: "This will be a key instrument for monitoring through "Citizen Science ", encouraging everyone to pay close attention to the small land birds, and to identify and report their observations with more confidence. Undoubtedly, it will become a very important tool for monitoring bird populations, the basis for developing conservation measures for native and endemic bird species in the Galapagos Islands."

"BirdsEye Galápagos" contains photographs and descriptions of each bird species that can be found in the Galapagos Islands, and information is regularly and automatically updated. An interesting component of the application is the addition of songs for hard-to-identify species.

Birgit Fessl reminds users, "the bird songs should be listened only with headphones, the use of songs to attract birds is only permitted with special permission from the GNPD because it affects the behavior of the birds."

Additionally, using GPS technology, the app tells you where you can find a species or when the last sighting occurred.

The app also has a bar graph showing the seasonal abundance of all birds that comes directly from the observations database eBird which is part of the "Citizen Science" platform of the Laboratory of Ornithology at Cornell University in the United States. This laboratory has revolutionized the way in which the community of bird watchers reports sightings and accesses information about birds in the world.

BirdsEye sighting and species list screens.
BirdsEye sighting and species list screens.

The results achieved in the monitoring of Galapagos birds will depend on the participation of naturalist guides, tourists and the entire community, through the use of "BirdsEye Galápagos" and the reports sent to eBird. The mission of Birds In The Hand, LLC is that the information collected is used practically and that it helps efforts towards  the conservation of bird species worldwide.

We hope that many “BirdsEye Galápagos” users will record their observations in eBird to increase the reports available for each bird species and help protect the birds of the Galapagos Archipelago.

Visitors and residents can contribute sightings of birds such as the Yellow Warbler with the BirdsEye app.
Visitors and residents can contribute sightings of birds such as the Yellow Warbler with the BirdsEye app. Photo by: CDF.

The "BirdsEye Galápagos" application can be downloaded for free on iPhone and Android and can be used without internet connection, which is key outside the populated areas of Galapagos.

At the moment only the English version is available. The Spanish version will be available in the next few months. Common names are now available in English and Spanish (for Ecuador).

Collaborators on the BirdsEye Project: Birds In The Hand, the Galapagos National Park Directorate and Galapagos Conservancy.

Download the app 

Apple Store (Iphone)

Google Play (Android)

More information

The Galapagos Landbird Conservation Program

Click here to read more about BirdsEye Apps

The “Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands”, in French “Fondation Charles Darwin pour les îles Galapagos”, Association International sans but lucratif, has its registered office located at Drève du Pieuré 19, 1160 Brussels, and is registered under the trade registry of Brussels under the number 0409.359.103, (the “AISBL”).

© 2018 Charles Darwin Foundation. All rights reserved.