I’m sitting there in the front row of the DEMO Conference listening to a pitch about birds and bird watching and thinking “what the hell? Is this guy serious? One of the founders of the soon-to-be-released app Birdeez, has a curly mustache — dark — and I found myself thinking at the same time I was thinking all of the other things, “is that thing for real?” Funnily enough, one of the ‘sage experts’ on a panel who gave their opinion about the new companies that unveiled their latest also asked the same question publicly. Of course, we all laughed. Later, he told the DEMO audience, “yes, the mustache is real.”
But what about the damn bird app? Despite how many countries I’ve traveled to, birds hasn’t been a big part of ‘any of it,’ until I got to Costa Rica. My ex and I kept meeting all these bird nuts. The place seemed to be swarming with bird addicts, in a similar way that Silicon Valley is addicted to social media and mobile apps. They were everywhere and you couldn’t have a conversation for long without birds coming up.
Remember that Costa Rica is a country that has loads of stunning birds and bird watching geeks flock there for the hope of siting the rarest of birds — colorful vibrant species not found in blander places in the northern hemisphere. On our first hike, we managed to spot the rare Quatzal and had no idea at the time that many bird watchers spend years trying to get a glimpse of one (right).
Once you see one, even if you’re not a bird geek, you realize you’ve seen something truly special. Suddenly, after seeing something ‘this beautiful’, you start to get the whole bird watching thing a tad more. (remember we had started from the point of view that all bird geeks were nuts and who would spend weeks hiking for no other purpose but to spot a bird they hadn’t seen).
It’s a bit like the first time I saw my first polar bear in the wild this past August and thought – WTF? Holy cow? This is amazing? Crikey out loud already.
Birds have their own exotic appeal.
According to some stats, the U.S. has an estimated 48 million birdwatchers and 900+ species in the country, but 74 percent can’t identify more than 20 birds.
The iPhone app Birdeez makes it “ridiculously easy,” according to co-founder Jeff Simeon, “to identify birds and then share your sightings on Twitter. “ When I ran into one of the founders, he told me that Birdeez is still pending approval from the Apple iTunes App Store.
Birdeez takes you through the identification process via a few simple steps, such as identifying a category of a bird, select a size and color, and then narrow it down to matching species. Once you’ve found a match, you can read a detailed description and behavioral information.
They’ll start out supporting North America and then branch out from there.