Friday, September 28, 2012

Nature Nut’s Tech Corner

Illustration by Jean Bitting, 2012
 Do you feel like your inner nature nut and techie geeks are at odds with each other? Are you looking for a fresh new way to explore nature?  Are you a technophobe looking for a way to start plugging in? Perhaps you wish you had a way to inspire today’s technologically bound youth to re-connect with the natural world surrounding them? Whatever your current relationship with the ever-changing world of technology might be, our new Nature Nut’s Tech Corner is the perfect resource to help you get your geek on with nature!  Visit us on the last Friday of each month, right here, as we spotlight a new field tested application.

Nature Viewing Along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail

This month we are encouraging you to check out the Nature Viewing Along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail application (Also known as the Nature Viewing in Florida application for Android). This application, which is put out by Natural Guides, LLC and can be downloaded for free on both iPhone and Android platforms, helps you to identify the birds, butterflies and flowering plants seen along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Viewing Trail and throughout Florida. The tool was originally developed through a joint effort by the Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida IFAS Department of Entomology and Nematology and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with support from grants from the Florida Wildflower Foundation and Florida Museum Associates.

The developers had youth, novice, and visiting explorers in mind when creating this application. With its child-friendly icons, users can search 200 birds, 106 butterflies, 247 flowering plants, and 491 sites along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.  Numerous filters such as color and size make for more easily identifying of species which can then be bookmarked as favorites. The beautiful full color photos are sure to delight novice users and advanced birders alike.

There are a few considerations for this application we would be amiss if we did not mention. At a hefty 330MB, the size of the application could be a deterrent for some. We suggest downloading this one using a wi-fi connection in order to conserve your data plan. Downloading without wi-fi can also take several minutes even with a 4G connection. The applications child-friendly icons can also sometimes stump its new adult users with their simplicity. Don’t expect to see a great deal of instruction or labels, just follow the pictures to access your desired information. To make it even easier for you, here are descriptions of the home screen icons:

Android home screen (Letters added for purpose of article only).
A.     The Florida Icon opens a site search. Using your GPS location, the alphabetized list will show you the site name and distance from you. You can also switch the view to order by distance, search for sites, or access a list of cities. Selecting a site will show you it’s city and county as well as will bring up a map and option for navigation.
B.     The butterfly icon will bring you to the butterfly filter screen. Filter by color using the color wheel, simply touch it then touch the color(s) of the butterfly you are looking for. Click the ruler to select size, the season icon for season filter, and the landscape icon for habitat. Filter availability can change based on previous filters selected. Once you have selected your filters, select the ‘Matches” button at the top of your screen to review the matches. Select the butterfly that best matches what you are looking for to learn more about it. You can select the caterpillar icon at the bottom to learn more about related species and flowers or the my stuff icon to bookmark.
C.     Use the landscape icon to learn more about the different types of areas of Florida as well as to see additional landscape photos.
D.     Use the flower icon to explore flowering plants. The same filtering process will be used as described in B above. Once you have selected a species, you can also bookmark by selecting the my stuff icon at the bottom.
E.     Use the bird icon to explore birds. The same filtering process will be used as described in B above. Once you have selected a species, you can also bookmark by selecting the my stuff icon at the bottom.
F.     Use the My Stuff icon to access any bookmarks you have set. Book marks are sorted by favorite sites, birds, butterflies, and flowers.
Once familiar with the icons this application can be great fun and quite useful. Download the application for your Android or iPhone today, use the Florida icon to search for a site near you, get out there and start exploring natural Florida! 

Android filter screen.
Android results screen.
iPhone site detail screen.

iPhone species results screen.

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