Nature Field Guides
Resources such as field guides have existed since the dawn of time. I believe the first Neanderthals started scribbling on cave walls describing the world around them (probably just telling cave mates to stay away from their kill). Since then however, field guides have been invaluable resources thanks in large part to Darwin and his amazing journaling skills. The following nature guides represent the finest that the app store has to offer in providing you the most superior fielding experiences available, whether your ambition is flowers, birds, trees, reptiles, rocks, or anything in-between.
Audubon Reptiles and Amphibians – A Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians
Audubon Reptiles and Amphibians is a perfect place to start if you’re hunting for the hissing, looking for the leaping, or searching for the slithering. This field guide lists over 400 species of reptiles and amphibians living in North America. It features over 1,000 professional photographs, range maps for every species, in-depth descriptions, and much more.
Audubon Nature Florida – The Ultimate Florida Nature Guide
If you’re lucky enough to live in Florida then you should go grab the ultimate Florida field guide to plants and animals: Audubon Nature Florida. This field guide will point in the right direction no matter what you’re looking for. With over 400 birds, almost 150 species of reptiles and amphibians, over 200 fishes, 170 butterflies just to begin with, you won’t be disappointed. This guide features over 4,000 color photographs and more than 1,100 bird calls in audio format. With tons of species, more pictures than you handle, and extensive search options and more, Audubon Nature Florida is your guide to Florida’s wildlife–in your pocket.
Audubon Birds - A Field Guide to North American Birds
As you should know by now, Audubon puts out some great field guides. They have been one of the gold standards for decades now, and Audubon Birds – A Field Guide to North American Birds is nothing short of amazing. Featured are more than 750 birds located in North America with over 3,000 amazing photographs and tons of bird calls in audio format. In-depth descriptions, range maps, and the ability to track any species using your GPS and document it using “life lists” are just a few of the things that make this guide top notch for bird lovers. Note that this guide is also a part of the Audubon Guides – A Field Guide to Birds, Mammals, Wildflowers, and Trees and you can save a bunch of money over buying this app alone.
iBird Yard+ Guide to Birds
Don’t feel like traveling very far? How about a bird guide that will help you find birds right in your own backyard? iBird Explorer Backyard is your ticket. This guide will help you find the most common birds found–you guessed it–in your backyard. Almost 150 bird species can be found with the help of this guide. Great for kids and adults alike, this guide also features hand-drawn and full-sized illustrations, range maps, ability to bookmark your favorites, and the ability to shake your iDevice to play a random birdcall.
MyNature Animal Tracks
So maybe all you want to do is identify just what the hell is making all those tracks in the dirt? MyNature Animal Tracks is there for you. You will be able to identify any animal in your area when you reference this well-made guide. It is chock full of great information and pictures of not just illustrations, but actual photographs of tracks.
Audubon Mammals - A Field Guide to North American Mammals
Another app in the excellent Audubon field guide series, mammals is all about things covered with fur–usually. It features all the usuals like tons of great photography, range maps, cutting edge search capabilities, lots of details of each animal, comparisons to other animals, and lots more.
iBird Yard Plus HD
Okay, so I have another bird guide for the backyard in here. Sometimes having two guides to cover all your bases is an excellent idea to make sure your not missing any of your favorite, feathered friends. iBird Yard is stuffed full of your favorites: hummingbirds, robins, bluejays, and 145 other species that are easy to spot right in your own backyard. Species-specific things like diet, colors, habitat information, egg color, and more are also covered, along with birdcalls for most species. Plus, this app is for the iPad, so everything is large, readable, and crystal clear.
This just may be the most useful guide in the app store for finding birds. Keep the entire Cornell Lab of Ornithology in your pocket! Via eBird–the incredibly immense, real-time bird observation system from Cornell–never be in the wrong spot at the wrong time again. This database collects over one million bird observations a month by birders everywhere and reviewed by experts. These experts use this information to track the distribution of any given species, in turn letting you see more birds at any given location. It’s incredibly intuitive and a brilliant idea. There is a lite version for $1.99.
MyNature Tree Guide
Trees are fun to observe because they can’t run or fly away. One of the best guides on the app store right now is MyNature Tree Guide, your ticket to any tree you care to study and snap pictures of. Use searchable databases for leaf and needle identification, search by leaf shape, search through images of leaves, needles, cones, fruit, bark, and much more. Also included are range maps, a built-in ruler for measurements of fruit or leaves, and a fun state tree quiz.
Audubon Insects and Spiders – A Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders
Audubon is back in the list with its well-done insect guide. More for the beginner bug enthusiast, Audubon Insects and Spiders is a comprehensive list of nearly 300 species found in North America with expected excellency found in most Audubon guides like photographs, range maps, detailed specifics of each species, and current updates.
Here is a guide of a slightly different nature: pests. Locate and identify every bug you’d love to step on, squash, burn with a magnifying glass, or set ablaze with a can of spray and a lighter. Some of the nasties covered in this guide include cockroaches, flies, occasional invaders like snails, and other urban pests and their droppings (like insects, rodents, and wildlife). This guide also gives you facts like common name, crap they like to hang out in, biology, and distribution.
RockHound is a good, all-around rock, gem, and mineral guide that uses GPS coordinates to map over 150 sites with a green pin. With your location in blue, it’s easy to find new sites to explore. RockHound is not intended to be a complete guide to every single site out there, but you have the ability to add your own sites and submit them for use in future updates. Sites are not limited to those in the U.S. only but worldwide. RockHound breaks down into four sections: Sites, Rocks, Tips (tools needed, rock tumblers, etc.), and Favorites, which gives you the ability to mark sites as your favorties with a picture from your photo library.
If you’re a flowerchild (or maybe just one who loves flowers) and happen to live in or near the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina or are planning a trip there soon, then GSM Wildflowers is the guide for you. Covering over 175 species of the most commonly seen wildflowers, GSM Wildflowers is a beautifully illustrated flower guide with over 450 images and descriptions of flowers including height, color, leaf type, size and arrangement, habitat, and tons more. BDY Environmental LLC–the makers of this app–have partnered with Discover Life in America in developing GSM Wildflowers to help raise awareness of the biological and ecological diversity of the Smoky Mountains.
SGMPlants - Plants of the San Gabriel Mountains
Another fantastic flower guide, SGMPlants has over 1,800 full-sized photos and over 800 thumbnail photos covering over 250 species of flowers located in the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles, California. This guide covers topics like botany and gardening with native California plants, geology and geography of the San Gabriel Mountains, blooming period and plant type of every species including gardening requirements, and a lot more.
Have you ever caught a fish and wondered just what the hell it was? This app will help you angling aficionados identify any North American fish you may find, on the spot. Always be sure of what you’re reeling in. Experts as well and novices will find this app a breeze to use and chock full of easy to read information including type of fish, size and weight, habitat, feeding habits, general fishing guidelines, and more. It does not include regulations however, so make sure you know your state regs before reeling in that monster.
Star Walk™ - 5 Stars Astronomy Guide
This has been covered in a recent AppGuide called Apps For Stargazers, but it’s definitely worth mentioning again. No list of nature guides would be complete without a quality star guide, and Star Walk is a great one. Star Walk lets you view the entire night sky with a built-in digital compass, and identifies stars, planets, constellations, and other deep-sky objects. It also gives you a complete look at what’s visible at any given time of year. A comprehensive help guide ensures you will always know what to look for and when. There are separate iPhone and iPad versions, differentiated only by the price of a couple of bucks.