|Birdwatching in Colombia 'app'|
Around 2007 I was traveling in Venezuela. I had a relatively basic camera and lens, and was starting to take photos of birds and nature. In Venezuela Chavez was in power, and the country was still relatively stable. The Venezuelan people told us about how dangerous Colombia was. For example the buses had to travel in caravans to avoid attacks. Jurgen Beckers was also doing tours in Venezuela, and both of us soon switched to Colombia as that country's security situation improved.
Jurgen arrived in Colombia before me and was much more adventurous, crisscrossing the country visiting almost every department, and looking for birds at sites that no one had looked before. And in October of 2013 along with Pablo Florez he published the book 'Birdwatching in Colombia'. I had mostly been traveling to ProAves reserves and Rio Blanco in Manizales, and I and some of my friends bought the book as soon as it came out. And I had it with me where ever I went for the next few years.
Around 2005 I bought the domain name BirdPhotos.com for $700 USD, and for almost 20 years I've organized my photos and those of other photographers by taxonomy in a gallery of birds of the world. Being a programmer, I was able to combine a few databases, all on top of the underlying IOC taxonomy database. Also included are the Natureserve maps of birds of the Americas, which are amazing considering they were done in a time before citizen science. Many maps on eBird and Xeno-canto are still exact replications of the Natureserve maps. Visit Natureserve.org for more information.
Around 2019 I got the project running on Android and iPhone through telephone applications called 'Bird Data', and at the same time Cornell released 'Merlin' with similar functionality. By then Jurgen's book was a bit older and missing some sites, and needing updates to others. I talked with Jurgen about making an app that could be updated periodically, and that could show the sites on a Google interactive map. Luckily he agreed and we created the app 'Birdwatching in Colombia'.
The app's introduction and logistic info is especially handy for non-Colombian birders. Apart from background information, it gives a lot of logistic information (how to travel, where to stay, ...) for the visiting birder. The app is updated frequently with new sites, which is really necessary as the bird scene in Colombia changes quickly. Also the taxonomy changes automatically. The app is unfortunately in English only, but you can easily swap the English bird names into their scientific names.
One feature of the app is that sites are grouped by TOP sites, for people visiting Colombia for a short amount of time. Also sites for families and sites for photographers are tagged as such. And the app has three suggested routes for first time visitors. These routes are a great tool. It helps you to make an efficient, ecological and cost friendly visit to the country.
The Birdwatching app also has a connection to a subset of the database use in the free Bird Data app. This allows you to quickly see information about the species, including subspecies (not provided by Merlin), distribution maps, as well as the names in other languages. And it contains also an important link to other places where the species has been mentioned.
The app, and the 'Bird Data' app, also has a connection to the eBird database. You can bring up a map and see eBird hotspots near you, or search by bird to see where that species has recently been seen on a eBird checklilst.
Because every country has different taxes for app purchases, the price varies widely. Normally it is around $25 USD, but in Colombia on Android the price is $60,000 COP ($10,000 are government taxes). I think it a great deal because unlike with a book, your app is updated several times a year. I just visited a great site, Barbas Bremen, and plan to put that in the next update.