March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Portable and Practical: A Guide for Budding Birders | Touch and Go

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We’ve reviewed  both general guides to birds and others specific to species in this column, but here’s one that the youngest children will be able to enjoy.


Screen from RSPB Birds

Screen from RSPB First Birds (Bloomsbury/Aimer Media)

The superbly portable field guide from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, RSPB First Birds (Bloomsbury Publishing Plc/, Aimer Media Ltd., iOS, $4.99; PreS-Gr 2) is chock-full of information and activities for children and their families to explore. Featured in the app are common birds found in five distinct habitats: garden, river, seaside, park, and countryside. Each bird has it’s own page containing a selection of facts, a video clip, a recording of the bird’s sounds and songs, a picture to color, options for users to tag favorites and/or species they have spotted in the wild, and more.

The habitat depicted for each set of birds is cartoonish and quaint. Kids can drag and drop an endless stream of birds onto backgrounds to construct their own flock. But beware: even Mute Swans make quite a bit of noise en masse!

The app is not without glitches: the screen freezes on occasion. Not all species include videos, but the plethora of audio options (including read aloud) make this a particularly good choice for visually impaired students and beginning readers, among others.

Novice bird watchers and nature fans will appreciate the app, which will also encourage others to look at the world around them. (It may even appeal to Pokémon fans looking for a more educational interactive excursion). The UK-based RSPB focuses on quality content that aligns with their mission. Their cause is one that is worthy of support and the return is a terrific app for the home or classroom.—Caroline Molner, Worthington City Schools, OH

Screen from RSPB First Birds

Screen from RSPB First Birds (Bloomsbury/Aimer Media)

Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.

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  1. Judy Weymouth says:

    The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is an organization in England. I’m wondering if the birds chosen in this app are found in North America. The app looks beautiful and I’d buy it in a minute . . . if I lived in England! My hunch is the app would be useless for beginning birders in the United States! Please verify and respond.

    • Caroline Molnar says:

      Hi Judy!
      Many of the birds found in the app are also found in the United States. I apologize for not making that clear! It contains birds such as Barn Owl, Blackbird, Cuckoo, Canada Goose, House Sparrow, Mallard, Robin, Woodpecker, Herring Gull, Wren to name a few. Of course, it would depend on where you are located in the United States. I hope that helps. – Caroline