Tourism Windsor Essex County Pelee Island launches new birding app



By Ron Giofu


Birding app1Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) is helping birders and potential birders thanks to a new app.

TWEPI launched a new birding app at a press conference held atop the Holiday Beach Conservation Area’s hawk tower. The new app is designed to be the next step in the development of the birding product in this region.

Kris Racine, director of product development and marketing for TWEPI, noted that Holiday Beach was named the third best spot in North America to see migrating hawks according to a 2012 ranking by Audubon magazine.

Racine noted it was a collaborative effort to develop the new app noting stakeholders in Chatham-Kent were also used to create it. The app – found at  or through a device’s app store – can be used on iPhone, Android, Blackberry or mobile sites, he added.

Other partners include Parks Canada, Essex Region Conservation Authority, Friends of Rondeau, Municipality of Leamington, Municipality of Chatham-Kent, Jack Miner Migratory Bird Foundation, and the Ojibway Nature Centre

The app can also be changed and updated based on user needs and changing technology, Racine pointed out.

“We will continue to improve the app with user feedback,” he said.

TWEPI CEO Gordon Orr noted the app features several features for experienced birders and those new to the hobby.

“Our goal was to develop an app – a mobile extension of a specific part of our website. Birding is done in the field and that’s what this app allows – to be in nature if the user chooses,” commented Orr. “Once in hand, users will quickly transform into local birding experts with some useful features like ‘Top Birds’ and ‘Birding Hot Spots.’ By means of easy-to-use mapping, we’ve even added ‘Local Birding Services’ and ‘What’s Nearby’ to better get them acquainted to attractions other than our feathered friends.”

Sarah Rupert, a birder and an interpretive program co-ordinator at Point Pelee National Park, noted birding has gone from the field guide to the smartphone and the app helps along those lines.

“Birders use technology. They are on board with this,” she said.

Rupert noted birders start early and stay late so the app feature showing local attractions, restaurants and gas stations can come in handy.

Essex County Warden Tom Bain recounted a story where he and his wife met birders that came to Sturgeon Woods from Quebec, noting that it was an eye-opener about how far birders will travel. He praised the collaborative effort TWEPI and their partners did in developing the app.

“We accomplish so much more with teamwork,” said Bain. “When you work together as a team, the workload is less and you accomplish much more.”

Bain also acknowledged that when birders do come to the area, it creates a spinoff for the local economy.

The project was funded by the Essex Community Futures Development Corporation and board vice president Rita Ossington said the organization was pleased to contribute. She also noted birding brings people in from various areas and that “makes us proud to be part of this initiative.”

Todd Pepper, a hawk counter with the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory, noted people were in town from Owen Sound and Mississauga during the announcement. He also conducted several birding demonstrations where a number of species of birds were released.

“People come here from throughout the world,” he said.

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