A war of epic proportions is brewing in the world of mobile birdsong apps. On one side are those who believe the recording and replaying of different birdsongs to be a harmless educational tool. On the other are those who argue that using fake calls to attract birds can distract them from important daily tasks.
Opponents of the apps say that they are primarily being used to attract birds for the purpose of photography. "It can divert a territorial bird from other important duties, such as feeding its young,” says Tony Whitehead of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. "It is selfish and shows no respect to the bird. People should never use playback to attract a species during its breeding season.”
At the Brownsea Island nature reserve, signs have been posted to warn visitors about the use of the apps. “Use of these apps is not suitable for nature reserves and can be potentially harmful to sensitive species,” said reserve manager Chris Thain.
Dr. Hilary Wilson, a developer for the controversial Chirp! app, admitted that there was potential for misuse of the programs, but insisted that they were just learning tools and that everyone should probably just calm down a little. “Just keep the volume low,” she said.
Nesting birds are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it an offense to intentionally disturb a bird. No charges have yet been made.