Miss the summer already? After months of being outside enjoying nature, winter can be tough. I mean, I love a fireplace and a mug of cocoa as much as the next guy, but nothing beats the great outdoors on a warm, sunny day. Fortunately, in 2016, there’s an app for that – just like there’s an app for everything else! Of course, no app can bring back summer (yet) but there are a few great ones that really enhance your enjoyment of the outdoors while you’re stuck inside. Here are a few of our favorites:
- LeafSnap, one of our favorites at Connecticut Green, is a digital set of field guides compiled and developed by researchers from the Smithsonian Institute, Columbia University and the University of Maryland. According to the official website, the apps “use visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves. They contain beautiful high-resolution images of leaves, flowers, fruits, petioles, seeds and bark.” LeafSnap is available for free for the iPhone and iPad. An Android app is currently in development.
- MyNature Animal Tracks is a highly-rated app for all you animal lovers. Finding animal tracks in your yard can be really exciting – especially for the kids – and this app helps you easily determine whether you’ve got a raccoon, a skunk or something more exotic visiting your property. According to the developers, you can “search by track size and shape in seven different illustrated categories to identify over 46 animals across North America. View actual tracks in the wild, reference illustrated gait patterns, range maps, digital images of animals and listen to each animal’s vocalization.” The app is available for Android for $4.99 and iOS for $1.99.
- If you’re a “bird nerd,” you probably already know about Merlin. While there are a handful of great birding apps out there, Merlin is by far the easiest to use. And, considering it’s been developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, it’s also one of the most reliable. “First, Merlin asks you a few simple questions. Then, almost like magic, it reveals the list of birds that best match your description. Pick your bird, then delve into more photos, sounds, and ID tips about your bird! Merlin is fun and easy to use—whether you’re curious about a bird you’ve seen once or you’re hoping to identify every bird that comes to your feeder.” Download it free for Android or iOS. (For the more serious and experienced birder, there is a series of Audubon Society apps available in iTunes!)