Galapagos Visitors Can Now Help CDF Ornithologists Protect Birds

21 Sep 15 /
Darwin's finch. Photo by: Sam Rowley / CDF.

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.

Andres Cruz

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