Birding is a sustainable, healthy, and educational hobby that more folks worldwide picked up during the pandemic, according to multiple reports.
But for newbies, the whole birding lingo and pastime can seem intimidating, which can keep some from taking it up.
Well, now, there's an app for that.
Recently launched, the free BC Bird Trail Mobile Experience (BC Bird Trail App) is made for folks just starting out or early in their birding — er — flight.
It is available for download via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
"The app is somewhat of like a gamified fun way to check in at these places throughout the trails. And as you check in, you level up with points," said BC Bird Trail creative director Jordan Stout.
The app uses tracking so you can register you were at a certain marsh, for example, and see how many other birders were there.
"It is a fun way to take the BC Bird Trail on the go and track your progress."
How does it work?
The app allows users to explore self-guided itineraries and track their progress. You can also plan trips based on curated recommendations from The BC Bird Trail and Destination BC.
There are also options for local spots you can eat at or visit in each area.
The app accompanies the recent expansion of The BC Bird Trail (did you know there was such a trail? There is.) earlier this fall, which includes the new Sea to Sky Bird Trail.
This trail spans Squamish and Whistler with noted local stops at the Sea to Sky Gondola, Skwelwil'em Squamish Estuary Wildlife Management Area, and Stawamus Chief Provincial Park.
B.C. is a spectacular place to be a birder as we are on the Pacific Flyway, a major migratory bird path, Stout noted.
But not everywhere hardcore birders may go is noted on the app or the Sea to Sky Trail. Stout said creators work with conservationists to ensure they aren't sending folks into environmentally sensitive areas that don't need more traffic.
And while birding can become expensive with advanced gear and trips, this is an affordable and accessible way to start, especially since the Sea to Sky Trail is our own backyard.
"Maybe mom and the kids are going out for another walk this weekend. They're like, 'Ok, well, we [did] this one last week, and we checked it off; let's go to this place this week. And we'll check that one off,'" Stout said.
The BC Bird Trail Mobile Experience was created in partnership with The BC Bird Trail, Birds Canada, The Number Creative, and more than 20 tourism partners throughout the province.
Go to bcbirdtrail.ca for more information.