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6 Helpful Apps for Budding Naturalists!

Do you love the outdoors? When you find a bug or a plant that you’ve never seen before, do you yearn to identify it? Do you want to know more about animal tracks, the night sky, or hiking trails in your area? Well, budding naturalists, this post is for you!

We’ve put together a list of helpful apps that you can use as you explore the world around you and work on some of our Naturalist and Environmental Stewardship badges. So put your nature detective hat on (if that’s not a thing, it really should be), grab your smartphone, and head outside to do some detective work in the great outdoors!

  • Leafsnap is a good field guide that uses visual recognition software to identify tree species from photos of their leaves. It was developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution.
  • Audobon Bird Guide is another free field guide that has hundreds of species of North American birds. You can use it to identify birds, track birds you’ve seen, and find new birds near you. The Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab is another good birding app to use.
  • AllTrails helps you find hiking, biking, backpacking and running trails around the world. You can download offline maps that’ll help you get to the trailhead and start your outdoor adventure.
  • iTrack Wildlife Lite is the free version of iTrack Wildlife (it’s database is limited to 8 species) and is a good starting place for identifying animal tracks. Want a larger database? Upgrade to iTrack Wildlife which is a more comprehensive digital field guide to animal tracks.
  • iNaturalist connects you with a community of scientists and naturalists to help identify plants and animals around you. Use it to learn more about nature as part of a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.
  • Sky Map is a hand-held planetarium originally developed by Google Sky Map that you can use to identify stars, planets, nebulae, and more. You can also use SkyView Lite. Just point your iPhone, iPad, or iPod at the sky to identify stars, constellations, satellites, and more.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your mobile device, download some apps, and get exploring!

Need some more apps to help you explore the outdoors? Check out REI’s 8 Best Hiking Apps You Need to Download.

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