Using Audubon apps in your expeditions

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July 25, 2011

Audubon Guides – A Field Guide to Birds, Mammals, Wildflowers, and Trees
From Green Mountain Digital

I am quite impressed with the Audubon apps so far. This particular app contains four apps in one – so you can save a bit of money when you purchase it. I am quite impressed with the quality of the app and the flexibility of using it. Being the type of person who loves to identify the species I encounter in my outdoor activities, I was very curious to explore the apps and see if I could identify something I didn’t know before.

The Audubon Guides app will help you identify birds, mammals, wildflowers, and trees.   All guides feature professional color photographs, in-depth descriptions of each species, fast and easy navigation, state-of-the-art search functions, real time availability, life lists, sightings and photo albums.

Audubon Birds – A Field Guide to the Birds of North America features over 750 species of North American Birds, from Chickadees to Condors and Eagles to Egrets. This guide includes the most current and complete information available on identification, behavior, habitat, range, diet, nesting, mating, migration, endangered status and more.

Audubon Mammals – a Field Guide to the Mammals of North America is your essential guide to mammals in the US and Canada featuring in-depth information on 240 species, drawings of mammals’ tracks, high quality photos detailing every species, information on range, habitat, diet, and much more.

Audubon Trees – a Field Guide to the Trees of North America is your essential guide to trees in North America, featuring in-depth info on 906 trees in the US and Canada. This guide provides invaluable species information, over 2000 beautiful photos, complete descriptions of leaves, fruit, habitat, range, and more.

Audubon Wildflowers – A Field Guide to the Wildflowers of North America is your essential guide to flowers in North-America, with in-depth info on 1835 flowers in the US and Canada. Audubon Wildflowers provides species information, over 3000 photos, range information, complete flower, petal, and fruit descriptions, and much more.

While exploring our campsite and walking some of their trails, I snapped a few pictures. When we got back home I decided to try to identify the species we have encountered. Having the search functionality helps quite a bit when you are trying to identify something you don’t quite know. With it you can select the regions and from there select a few other identification things like color, shape, and so on. Each app has it’s own advanced search functionality as variables will vary whether you have a mammal or a flower… For example, the advanced search for the mammals has five criteria while the one for the trees have thirteen criteria.

Here’s the species I have identified for with the app.


Purple Finch

DESCRIPTION 5 1/2-6 1/2″ (14-17 cm). Larger and stockier than House Finch, but smaller than Cassin’s and darker than both. Dusky rose-red of male, more raspberry than purple, extends from upperparts to breast and flanks, brightest at crown and rump. Off-white below, mantle streaked with brown, wings and notched tail brown. Female has pronounced light stripe behind eye, dark stripe on jaw, and more heavily streaked breast than female House or Cassin’s Finches.

VOICE Rich musical warble. Call a distinctive tick in flight.

HABITAT Mixed and coniferous woodlands; ornamental conifers in gardens.

RANGE Breeds from British Columbia east to Newfoundland, southward in western mountains to California and from eastern Minnesota east to West Virginia. Winters south to U.S.-Mexico border.

DISCUSSION Purple Finches are numerous and conspicuous during spring migration; pairs are territorial, the brightly colored male displaying in front of the female with his rich, spirited, warbling song. After the clutch is raised, they may be seen in large flocks visiting orchards, parks, and other woodlands. In winter they visit feeding stations in large numbers, showing a fondness for sunflower seeds.

NESTING 4 or 5 blue-green eggs, spotted at the larger end with dark brown, in a well-made cup of grasses and twigs, often lined with hair, placed in a conifer.


Wild Columbine – Aquilegia Canadensis

DESCRIPTION A nodding, red and yellow flower with upward-spurred petals alternating with spreading, colored sepals and numerous yellow stamens hanging below petals. Leaves: 4-6″ (10-15 cm) wide, long-stalked, compound; divided into 9-27 light green, 3-lobed leaflets.Height: 1-2′ (30-60 cm).

HABITAT Rocky, wooded, or open slopes.

RANGE Saskatchewan east to Nova Scotia, south to Florida, west to Arkansas and Texas, and north to North Dakota.

DISCUSSION This beautiful woodland wildflower has showy, drooping, bell-like flowers equipped with distinctly backward-pointing tubes, similar to the garden Columbines. These tubes, or spurs, contain nectar that attracts long-tongued insects especially adapted for reaching the sweet secretion. European Columbine (A. vulgaris), with blue, violet, pink, or white short-spurred flowers, was introduced from Europe and has now become well established in many parts of the East.

FLOWER April-July.. 1-2″ (2.5-5 cm) long; sepals 5, red; petals 5, each yellow, with a hollow, long, red spur; stamens forming a column.

FRUIT Beaked, many-seeded pod, splitting open along inner side.


This one I am uncertain about what I have found. At first I looked in the flowers app but I couldn’t find anything in the pink/purple colors… So for fun I checked in the trees app. Well I was caught by surprised… Apparently this is a Purple-flowering Raspberry (Rudus odoratus). An alternate name is a Thimbleberry!

DESCRIPTION This erect, shrubby, thornless plant has rose-lavender flowers in loose clusters; new branches have bristly hairs.Flowers: 1-2″ (2.5-5 cm) wide; 5 rose-like petals; many stamens and pistils.Leaves: 4-10″ (10-25 cm) wide, large, maple-like, 3-5 lobed, heart-shaped at base.Fruit: red, broad, shallow, becoming raspberry-like when mature.Height: 3-6′ (1-1.8 m).Flowering: June-September.

HABITAT Rocky woods, thickets.

RANGE S. Ontario to Nova Scotia; south through New England to Georgia; west to Tennessee; north to Michigan.

DISCUSSION Thimbleberry (R. parviflorus), with very similar white flowers and similar but smaller leaves, occurs from Alaska to Mexico and northeast to Ontario. Baked-apple Berry (R. chamaemorus), is a dwarf form only 12″ (30 cm) tall, with a solitary white flower, an amber-colored berry, and leaves similar to the above, but smaller. It is found on mountaintops in New England and northward into Canada. All other species in the East have compound leaves and usually spiny stems.


Okay I will admit I didn’t find any wild animals that I didn’t know what it was. So for the mammal, I decided to check the animal who is part of my totem name when I was a girl guide – the eastern chipmunk! We have quite a few of these running around (or should I say jumping around) at the campsite. we even have one whose domain is on our site. Every once in a while, I see him going in and out of his hole. Too cute!

DESCRIPTION Reddish brown above; belly white. 1 white stripe bordered by 2 black stripes on sides; stripes end at rump. 2 white stripes on back much thinner than side stripes. Dark center stripe down back; pale facial stripes above and below eyes. Tail brown on tip, edged with black. Prominent ears. L 8 1/2-11 3/4″ (215-299 mm); T 3 1/8-4 3/8″ (78-113 mm); HF 1 1/4-1 1/2″ (32-38 mm); Wt 2 1/4-5 oz (66-139 g).

SIMILAR SPECIES Least Chipmunk has 4 white stripes of equal width on back. SIGNS Burrow entrances 2″(50 mm) wide, without piles of dirt, often on a woody slope or bank. Occasional sprinklings of nutshells opened on one side. Bits of chaff on logs, stumps, and rocks. Tracks: In mud, hindprint 1 7/8″(48 mm) long, foreprint considerably smaller; straddle 1 3/4-3 1/2″(45-90 mm); stride 7-15″(180-380 mm), with hindprints closer together and printing ahead of foreprints.

HABITAT Open deciduous woodlands, forest edges, brushy areas, bushes and stone walls in cemeteries and around houses. RANGE Southeastern Canada and North U.S. east from North Dakota and East Oklahoma, and south to Mississippi, North South Carolina, and Virginia.

BREEDING Mates in early spring; 1 litter per year of 3-5 young born in May. First-year females not breeding in early spring may produce a litter late July-August.

DISCUSSION The Eastern Chipmunk hibernates from late fall to early spring, waking to eat every two weeks or so. Individuals may occasionally appear on the surface in the snow, especially in mild weather. Essentially a ground species, this pert chipmunk, like the gray and fox squirrels, often feeds on acorns and hickory nuts. It does not hesitate to climb large oak trees when acorns are ripe, and will also scale Corylus bushes to harvest hazelnuts. The cutting sounds it makes as it eats nuts can be heard for some distance. In addition to nuts, its diet includes seeds and other types of vegetation, some invertebrates such as slugs and snails, and small vertebrates, probably found as carrion. This species is single-minded in its food gathering, making trips from tree to storage burrow almost continuously. It was estimated that over three days one chipmunk stored a bushel of chestnuts, hickory nuts, and corn kernels. Burrows, consisting of single tunnels or more complex systems, are up to 10 feet (3 m) long and less than 3 feet (1 m) deep. They may include enlarged cavities for nests (made of pieces of leaves) and food caches, which are often large enough to last into the following spring and summer. Eastern Chipmunks of both sexes vocalize prominently, using one of two chattering calls: a trilling chip-chip-chip repeated very rapidly (about 130 trills per minute) and a lower-pitched, slower chuck . . . chuck . . . chuck. The Long-tailed Weasel is the Eastern Chipmunk’s major predator, but hawks, foxes, the Bobcat, and house cats also take their share.

In conclusion, the apps are easy to use and will give you plenty of details on the species you will encounter during your outdoor adventures. The apps are also a great addition for our homeschool.  It is also perfect for homeschooling as I can make the kids search for a species we encounter whether at the camping, park, walk in trails around the house or on trips. What I particularly like about these apps is the portability – you don’t have to worry to carry a bunch of books in your backpack and have extra weight on your back – like a few years ago. Now you just have to pack water, binocular and your camera and go explore the outdoors.    So what are you waiting for? Get some Audubon apps on your iPhone, iPod or iPad and go explore your surroundings!

Audubon Guides – A Field Guide to Birds, Mammals, Wildflowers, and Trees is available for purchase directly from iTunes.

This review has originally been published at Canadianladybug Reviews!

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