Smartphone users have amazing apps that enhance and facilitate access to information they want when they're on the go. I'm just discovering some fantastic apps to help me achieve my goal of becoming more knowledgeable and aware of the natural world around me. Here are three of the most interesting I've discovered recently. Two of them are pricey, but they're like having an expert guide right beside you!

iBird1) iBirdPro Guide to Birds by the Mitch Waite Group. $19.99. This was recommended to me by my serious birder friends, and I truly love the iPad version. It's available for iOS 4.3 or later: compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It's also available for NEXUS 7 and Android OS 4.3 Jelly Bean. Enter features of a bird you see and its location (coloration details, size, terrain, state, time or year, etc.) and you'll be presented with a list of possibilities, including terrific photos, range maps, and audio files to hear bird calls. If you want to look up a specific bird, the information is comprehensive on its behavior, range, birds that look and sound like it, and so much more. There's a $9.99 version called iBird Plus Guide to Birds, and my friend Beth has found it be very robust (see her comment below).

2) NightSkyNight Sky 2 by iCandi Apps. $.99. Aim your device at the night sky to identify stars, planets, constellations, and satellites. You don't need a telescope. The app adds overlays of constellations on its illustrations. Push notifications even let you know what sky conditions to expect in your area on that night. It's been too cold to spend much time outside learning Night Sky 2, but I'm looking forward to milder weather so I can identify more than just Orion and the Big Dipper.

iTrack3) iTrackWildlife by $14.99. I've used this one often this winter because of all the animal tracks in the snow, and it's been great fun to speculate on the story that goes with the tracks. Where was this animal going? What was it doing?  Was this a dog or a coyote or a fox? Whoaaa…there was obviously a struggle here, and the blood and feathers on the snow means it didn't end well for one creature or another. This app includes photographs of each animal's tracks on various surfaces, information on their gait, and pictures of scat. There's also a free version, but it only features eight species.

Sometimes a simple tool like an app can make learning so much easier! Have you used any apps for learning about nature that you'd recommend? Please share in the comments below or over on my Facebook Page. 

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