App for bird lovers gets people out into nature while helping bird, wildlife conservation
Birda co-founders John and Natalie White shared details of their social birding network with Fox News Digital.
A new app is working to reconnect humans with the great outdoors.
The social birding network Birda is helping outdoor adventurers identify and record various bird species.
But this isn’t just something for avid birdwatchers.
Birda co-founders John and Natalie White, who are based in West Langton, Leicestershire, in the U.K., revealed in an interview with Fox News Digital that their app aims to give back in more ways than one.
"We wanted to create this space that could unite people through a shared passion," Natalie White said.
Natalie White, co-founder of Birda, shared the genesis of the new app with Fox News Digital in an interview. (Birda)
Birdwatching is a hobby that unifies people of all ages and at all levels around the world, she added.
And ever since the coronavirus pandemic, interest has only blossomed as more people have compelled to get outside and spend some time there, she said.
"It was documented that things like bird feeders and bird seed — the sales of those increased by [about] 50% during the pandemic," she said.
She suggested that the COVID-era interest in birdwatching has "really stayed" with people — and Birda aims to promote these ongoing "healthy habits."
Two blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus/Parus caeruleus) can be seen eating peanuts and seeds from a bird feeder. (Philippe Clément/Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
"It’s not just a great hobby to have," John White said. "But it’s also something that’s healthy and good for you, too."
The co-founders also mentioned the correlation between spending time outside and an improvement in mental health.
Some users have reported that the app has helped improve their mood by motivating outdoor movement with built-in incentives, according to Birda.
How the app works
The design of the app is meant to — and has been proven to — motivate users to get out each day and meet their goals, the co-founders shared.
The functionality of the "niche social network" taps into users’ locations to target local reserves and bird species in those areas.
The Birda app keeps a "Life List" of birds spotted by users — and the ability to share that information with others. (Birda)
This allows birdwatchers to narrow down areas where there are birds they haven’t seen yet.
Birda can then help identify the species of birds that users have spotted — while recording it in the app.
Users can post photos of what they’ve seen and share that with their followers and communities.
"People are kind of always learning and sharing their experiences," Natalie White said.
Birda users can earn badges for completing challenges. (Birda)
John White added, "If somebody posts something [about a bird and] they don’t know what it is, there’s going to be stacks and stacks of people out there with local knowledge that will get involved in helping ID" the species.
Birda users are motivated by app incentives, such as badges for completing monthly challenges, as well as keeping up with their "Days Wild" count — or consecutive days spent outside in nature.
"People are always learning and sharing their experiences."
"It’s meant to be fun as well," Natalie White said. "It’s meant to be something that you feel like you’re enjoying."
The U.K.-based husband and wife always shared a passion for wildlife after living in South Africa for 10 years.
"That sparked my passion for the natural world and how important it is to have those kinds of connections," Natalie White said.
While living there, the pair stumbled upon rare wildlife sightings, including one specific run-in with a leopard.
John White, co-founder of Birda, is based in the U.K. He and his wife, Natalie White, settled on birds as the focus of their business venture, as they realized that birdwatchers were the "most engaged" in the wildlife space. (Birda)
This encounter encouraged the idea to launch an app that would allow nature observers to share their sightings with friends and family.
The two settled on birds as the focus of their business venture, as they realized that birdwatchers were the "most engaged" in the wildlife space.
"The sense of community is really strong," Natalie White said.
"And that’s something that we’ve always wanted — to be a driving force behind what we were doing as a way of bringing people together."
A man goes birding with the Birda app. No matter where users are located, there are always birds to be seen, noted the co-founders of Birda. (Birda)
She added that no matter where users are located, there are always birds to be seen.
"You could be a city person and still have that same connection with wildlife," John White said.
"And you can’t really do that with general wildlife."
"Birds are everywhere," Natalie White chimed in. "Some of the best birdwatching you can do is in Central Park … in the middle of a massive city."
Natalie White, who focuses on Birda’s marketing and design, said they were able to get Birda easily off the ground since the couple's separate skill sets were complementary.
After launching the company in early 2022, Birda now has a team of 11 employees.
Aside from helping others to develop healthy habits and growing the birdwatching community, Birda has spread its wings with an larger influence.
The company has been officially endorsed by the U.K.'s National Biodiversity Network to submit data to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).
A Birda user logs bird sighting while on a walk. Users can spend five minutes of their day birdwatching while also helping conservation efforts and bird habitat protection. (Birda)
John White explained how this allows wildlife sightings data captured on Birda to benefit conservationists and researchers worldwide.
"We’ve got a whole lot of cool systems and processes to make sure data that we’re submitting up to these conservation organizations is really good quality," he said.
Natalie White stressed how "amazing" the partnership is since anyone can spend five minutes of their day birdwatching while giving back to conservation efforts and habitat protection.
A birdwatcher identifies a bird species he's spotted while out on a walk with the Birda app. (Birda)
She called it a "win-win."
"Even though you’ve got your average Joe going out and logging what they see, that data — once it’s been cleaned — it’s still incredibly useful for scientists," John White said.
The Whites revealed that their next step with Birda will be involving younger kids in birdwatching, as they’ve witnessed their two young daughters develop an interest in the hobby, too.
"There are no real barriers to entry," Natalie White said.
"And I think if you have that love from a young age, it will follow you your whole life."
Angelica Stabile is a lifestyle writer for Fox News Digital.