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Helping save endangered species? There's an app for that

Two endangered birds, the western snowy plover and the California least tern, are getting an assist from San Diego Zoo Global and a custom mobile app.

The western snowy plover

The western snowy plover.

Ted Soqui/Getty Images

When it comes to mobile apps, you've no doubt heard of Angry Birds. But what about Endangered Birds?

No, it's not a game, it's serious business. San Diego Zoo Global -- a conservation group with programs worldwide, and the parent organization of the famous California zoo -- is using a customized mobile app to aid in field studies of two of the state's endangered bird species: the western snowy plover and the California least tern.

Flowfinity, maker of the app, said in a press release earlier this week that SDZ Global's use of the software had been expanded to include the two species.

Conservation researchers use the app to "record field observations in mobile forms instead of paper, as well as look up past field data collected throughout the season on mobile devices," Flowfinity said.

SDZ added that the app helps improve accuracy and efficiency because it lets researchers search thousands of records at a fast clip and validate data while offline. The offline bit is key.

"It was critical for the solution to support offline data access, real-time in the field, since nesting birds and chicks are often observed on beaches without network coverage," Flowfinity said. "This allows researchers to verify current measurements against past data, such as previous wingspan or weight of banded birds, or reference numbers for up to thousands of nests and chicks sighted."

SDZ also said the app helps it save 10 hours a week in data entry and administrative tasks, and 40 hours "at the end of the season in cleaning up data for analysis."

High-tech bird-watching, anyone?

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