This app messes with Mother Nature

Apps that mimic birdsong are driving the feathery creatures to distraction, to the point where they neglect chores like feeding their young'uns.

Are you talkin' to me? This nighthawk would probably prefer it if you turned off your birdsong app.


The bird watching community has long been aflutter debating the ethics of using recorded birdsong to attract the feathery creatures.

But the discussion is getting a lot louder in today's brave new world of apps, when all it takes to say "come- hither" to a warbler is a smartphone in the woods.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the U.K. has warned that birdsong apps are driving the winged things to distraction, to the point where they can neglect vital chores like watching after the little ones, the BBC reported earlier this month.

"Repeatedly playing a recording of birdsong or calls to encourage a bird to respond in order to see it or photograph it can divert a territorial bird from other important duties, such as feeding its young," an RSPB spokesperson said.

The issue has taken flight on the Brownsea Island nature reserve in the south of England, where visitors go to spot the protected nightjar - known by some as the nighthawk -  a bird that has been making a comeback in the area. "Use of these apps is not suitable for nature reserves and can be potentially harmful to sensitive species," said reserve manager Chris Tain.

Brownsea is now posting signs warning birdwatchers about the potential harmful affects.

The RSPB spokesperson added, "The apps are becoming quite common, and are great, but their use needs some guidance I feel. I'm sure visitors would be devastated if they realized the possible disturbance they were causing to wildlife."

Harry Wilson, from birdsong app developer iSpiny, said the purpose of the Chirp! app is to help people learn and identify birdsong. He welcomed the debate and advised users to exercise caution if they chose to use the app to encourage birds to respond.

Photo from Jerry Oldenettel via Wikimedia.

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