Bionic Bird
Bionic Bird

Become the boss of birding

Want to enhance your birdwatching experience? Here are some gadgets and apps that can help

There are two kinds of birdwatchers—those who feel birding is an outdoor activity that needs just a pair of basic binoculars, and others who believe technology can enhance the whole experience.

Certainly, binoculars are essential for that rare spotting of the whimsical crimson-backed sunbird, a tiny bird found only in the forests of the Western Ghats. “A good pair of binoculars is essential for birding," says Kanwar B. Singh, who leads the Delhi Bird Group and started Indian Birds, a group on Facebook that has more than 48,000 members. “I would recommend a top prism binocular which is lightweight, waterproof, offers 8x42 magnification. Personally, I have been eyeing a high-end Leica Ultravid binocular for a while now, and a spotting scope is always useful," he says. Singh, who has been birding for more than 20 years, accepts that “good gadgets can aid and greatly enhance the overall experience", but confesses that he remains an old-fashioned birder.

For those who believe that technology is the way to enhance their birdwatching experience, here are some devices and apps to consider.

Opticron Photoadapter

Opticronusa.com; starting from $65 (around 3,900), shipping charges extra

Bionic Bird

The Bionic Bird, a drone bird, was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, US, earlier this month. It’s a little creature with an elastic foam body (just 9g), flexible wings and a built-in Bluetooth radio which can be controlled through an app on your smartphone (Flying App, free on iTunes). It connects with your smartwatch and apes the movement of your hand when you wear the watch. The Bionic Bird has a range of 100m. To charge the bird, you will have to connect it to an egg-shaped charger via magnets.

Bionicbird.com; available for pre-order at €99 (around 7,000), shipping charges extra

Leica Ultravid Compact

En.leica-camera.com; starting from Singapore dollars 1,200 (around 55,000), shipping charges extra

Zeiss Victory SF 8x42

There’s a seven-lens eyepiece for extremely sharp focus all the way to the edges. It promises clear viewing at dusk and has a 148m-wide viewing field.

Zeiss.com; $2,888.88, shipping charges extra

Eye Loop magnetic eyeglass holder

The Eye Loop was created by Don Rathbun when his wife pestered him about why he wasn’t wearing some of the T-shirts she had bought for him. “There were no pockets to place my glasses in," he says over email. So he used a pair of magnets to create a hanger which could be attached to a pocket-less shirt, and could be used as a spectacle hanger on anything. “It’s a special custom-made magnet which is stronger than normal ones," says US-based Rathbun. Stylishly done, we say.

Magneticeyeglassholder.com; starting from $12, shipping charges extra

Swarovski Optik Spotting Scope ATS/STS 80

Swarovskioptik.com; starting from $2,632, shipping charges extra

Saw a grey-headed, blue-breasted little creature but don’t know its name? These apps can help

Birds of India

Created by MyDigitalEarth.com, this app has 1,370 detailed descriptions of bird species found in the subcontinent, based on ‘Birds Of The Indian Subcontinent’ by Richard Grimmett. If you think you’ve spotted a particular species but are unsure, you can try and identify it using Bird Compare. With a click, you can also make a personal bird list of your sightings, which you can then mail to yourself.

www.mydigitalearth.com; 1,623 on Google Play, and 1,800 on iTunes, with the name eGuide to Birds of the Indian Subcontinent

Indian Birds

Want to know the name of the fowl in another Indian language? Head to Indian Birds, which displays all the bird names in its listing in Marathi, Hindi, Sanskrit, Gujarati and Bengali. There are photographs and, if available, a YouTube video link of the bird. If you like to discover names, there’s a desktop widget to show random birds, so you learn names on the go.

Birds.thenatureweb.net; free on Google Play

BirdsEye Bird Finding Guide

This app lists the most common species in the world, for free. In-app purchases allow users to subscribe to detailed regional lists. It has features that show you bird haunts on maps and tell you which birds to expect where at a particular time of the year. Soon, you can expect live notifications on viewings of birds you are interested in.

www.birdsinthehand.com; free on Google Play and iTunes. In-app purchases start from $1.99 a month

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