Sunday 12 July 2020

Introducing Nature Companion: An Entry-Level Nature App for Canada's Four Western Provinces

“Be an explorer of your own streams and oceans . . . . It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau 

You’re walking in a park or by a river and you spot a small frog, an orange butterfly, a bird pecking on a tree, or a shrub with red berries. What is it? Is the animal you spotted from a distance a coyote or a cougar? What is the tall yellow flower growing beside the road?

Four years ago, Andrew McKinlay was hiking in Big Bend National Park in Texas and was frustrated. He was seeing all sorts of interesting plants, insects, trees, and other wildlife but was struggling to identify them. “What I need is one app that lists the most common plants, trees, animals, insects, reptiles, and birds that I’ll find in a particular area,” he said. “There are lots of specific bird, flower, or insect guides, but nothing together in one convenient package that I can download on my phone for easy access.”

 And so began a new EcoFriendly Sask project. Developed for curious observers, people who are interested in nature, the Nature Companion website/app will help you identify plants and animals in your community or as you travel in Canada’s four western provinces. In just one app, you’ll find basic information about over 300 common plants, trees, birds, animals, insects, reptiles, and amphibians.

Scroll through the colourful photographs and short descriptions to find out more about nature in your community and enjoy the unexpected details in the Did you know? section at the end of each description.

Nature Companion is free (no ads or sign up). It can be accessed either on or off line and can be installed on your phone or tablet.

Whether you’re travelling in another province, an expert on birds but not on reptiles, young or old, or a newcomer to Canada, we hope you will find Nature Companion a useful guide as you explore the natural world.

If you know someone - or many someones - who might be interested in Nature Companion, please share it with them.

A huge vote of thanks to our early reviewers who provided so many helpful suggestions that we've done our best to incorporate into Nature Companion. Please email us your feedback - we'd love to hear from you.

PS Check the Help (the ? at the top right) for assistance in installing the app. The initial download may be slow, but the app should be faster after that.

"The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world are not reserved for scientists but are available to anyone who will place themselves under the influence of earth, sea and sky and their amazing life." Rachel Carson