[App Fridays] Kili, an app for bird watchers in the memory of Dr. Salim Ali


“I don't feed the birds because they need me; I feed the birds because I need them.”

― Kathi Hutton

Bird-watching or ‘birding’ as it is termed, is a dying art. For most of us, the only time we see and appreciate these marvels of nature is on TV channels like Discovery, National Geographic or Animal Planet. But crouching on an embankment or in a bush, peering through a pair of binoculars and spotting a rare bird in its natural habitat is another adventure altogether.

A problem amateur bird watchers generally face is identifying birds. Flipping through thick encyclopaedias, reference books or magazines is not an easy task. Keeping this in mind, a group of ardent birders from Kozhikode, Kerala, have developed a ‘handy’ mobile app titled ‘Kili’ in the memory of Dr. Salim Ali’s 118th birth anniversary which fell on November 12th.

What is Kili

Kili is a mobile app aimed as a quick reference for bird watchers who are out in the field. The app was developed after consultations with different birding communities and scientific forums such as the Malabar Natural History Society (MNHS).

“We developed the app with the help of a private software firm at the end of several months of hard work and dedication,” says Naveen Lal, a member of the team ‘Raptors’.


The app offers a variety of quick ways to identify a sighted bird. It also provides specifics, including scientific names, habitats, and prominent bird hotspots (Kerala only) besides different search options for recognising a bird, including its size, shape, and group.

The app offers photos, status, and identifying details of the birds. It also provides information in English and Malayalam. All the photographs on the app have been taken by members of the team during different bird surveys. Abhinand Chandran, Navaneeth Nair, Vijesh Vallikunnu and Jolly Kacheri are the other members of ‘Raptors’.

While the current database is vast with over 100 birds, Lal confirmed that they are working on a high-end updated version, comprising over 350 birds, which will be released soon.

What we liked?

The app is easy to use and has a smooth UI and UX. The attention to detail is also apparent in the features provided. For example, most of us can vaguely remember the shape of a bird, even if seen for a few seconds. The ‘Jizz search’ based on shapes, helps users narrow down and identify the bird easily.

Another useful feature was the ‘Check List’ where users can enter their GPS tag that is latitude and longitude, date, time, number of observers, duration and also include if they identified the bird while they were stationary, travelling or just incidentally

What could be improved?

While we understand the extent of the research and data collection needed, we would love to see ‘Hotspots’ from other parts of the country too and content in Hindi as well so that the app can reach out and help more bird watchers.

YS verdict

A must-have app for users whether amateur or experienced bird watchers. There is potential in this app to reignite the passion and appreciation for one of nature’s most cherished hobbies.

Download it here : Kili

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