If you’re someone who likes to take hikes or even a quick walk around your neighborhood, you’ll likely find a few plants or flowers that are new to you. Going to the nearest park or wildlife preserve, you’ll not only see special plants, but also little critters and insects that these varieties of flora attract. Before you pick some of the flowers or consider trying to domesticate that furry friend (those teeth aren’t that sharp, right?), check out these nature and wildlife apps to help identify what they are.
Top 3 nature and wildlife apps
iNaturalist is probably our number one pick for nature apps. Created by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, you can join a huge community of over 400,000 scientists and nature enthusiasts in identifying and discussing plant and animal wildlife.
Take a photo and the app pulls suggestions based on where you live to help you find what you’re looking for. Give the app permission to know your location and it will bring up a map of your area with pins of findings by other users. There are four different colored pins for the different categories: plants, birds, fungi, and insects.
Just tap on a pin and it’ll show you more information:
What’s unique about this app is if you’re lucky enough to find something rare or even new, it could be considered ‘research grade’ and used to help scientists better understand the plant or animal. Pretty awesome and easy to use. Available on iPhone and Android.
2. Peterson Birds of North America
If you’re in North America and you want to know if that sound waking you up every morning is a bird in your backyard, this app can help. You can search for a specific bird or browse by family. A lot of apps just have the description of a bird but here you’ll have pictures for every. Single. Bird. Every one.
To keep track of the birds that you find, the ‘Sightings’ page lets you add an entry with the name of bird, date, the weather, and where you saw it. You can add as many notes and you’d like and when you’re finished, email your sightings in PDF form to your friends and family.
If you’re a serious bird-watcher you can up your game by upgrading to Premium, where you can see all 800+ bird species, listen to bird vocalizations, and see range maps and nest photos. Available for iPhone.
iNaturalist is back with Seek! Seek brings us a more hands-on version of the iNaturalist app with even more categories of wildlife.
Some of the categories you’ll find are plants, amphibians, fish, arachnids, fungi, and more. The point of Seek is to get out into your community and earn badges by taking pictures of plants and animals in each category, and the app shows you what you’re most likely to see in your area. On each page, you’ll find the picture, scientific name, and what time of year you’ll see the wildlife.
Click the ‘Found it!’ button and once the picture is accepted, you’re one step closer to a cool badge for that wildlife displayed on your account. There are 35 badges that you can get based on the number of species that you find. For example, there’s a badge for ‘5th Mollusk’ and ’25th Reptile.’ (You should be able to hand out those badges on Tinder, TBH.) Available for iPhone and Android.
Use our top picks, and you’ll be all set for a day of sightseeing and exploration!