A bird in the hand

Uniting amateur ornithologists one sighting at a time, the Birda app and social platform aims to create a sense of community around the world, particularly on the globe’s birding continent.

17 April 2023

I was convinced I wasn’t the only one who’d spotted them. And, as such, was equally convinced that someone with a better birding eye than mine would know what they were. Driving through the Western Cape – along the Garden Route and through the Cape winelands – these large brown birds can often be seen sitting on fence posts and telephone poles. I had no clue what they were. So I downloaded Birda. The brainchild of Natalie and John White, the app and social media platform promises to bring about a ‘new era of birdwatching’ by transforming a largely individual hobby into an inclusive community activity.

This isn’t the pair’s first attempt at leveraging tech to transform how we connect with nature. After an encounter with an elusive leopard in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve back in 2011, the couple developed a wildlife sightings-based community platform. The platform served as a space where people could share their sightings of animals across Southern Africa’s national parks. But they soon realised that the concept didn’t have that much reach, given the fact that not every country or city has wildlife like South Africa. The concept later evolved into a platform dedicated to birdwatching called Chirp Birding. But they weren’t there just yet.

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