The Best Bird Watching Apps of 2017

I can’t imagine leaving my smart phone at home when birding! As technology continues to advance, it has become an invaluable tool.

 

The Best Bird Birding AppsFor example, I have bird watching apps for just about everything, including field guides, checklist apps, automatic recognition and even apps that sync with eBird to help find local birds that I haven’t seen yet!

 

But trying to find apps that work well and are functional for bird watching is difficult.

 

I have downloaded some losers and found some that were deleted immediately.

 

This post is dedicated to sharing the most useful and best bird watching apps.


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Please check back often as I will do my best to keep this page updated with new apps and get rid of ones that are no longer useful. Most of the apps listed below I own and use on my phone or tablet. I included a few that I have not tested because they were highly recommended by other birders that I respect.

 

I included 15 different birding apps for this list and broke them up into separate categories by their general function.

 

Table of Contents:

 


The Best Field Guide Apps For Bird Identification:

One of my best bird watching tips for beginners is to download a great field guide on your phone or tablet. It will change your life being able to quickly access so much information in the palm of your hand instead of trying to leaf through a paper field guide.


#1: iBird Pro Guide to Birds

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iBird Pro is the field guide that I use on my phone, and I love it.

I find it easy to search for birds among different features (size, color, location, etc.) and I love that they have multiple drawings and pictures of each bird.

The vast library of sounds comes in handy all the time and helps me make many tricky identifications.

 

Available On: iTunes or Google Play

Available Locations:

Additional Resources:


#2: The Sibley eGuide to Birds of North America

Electronic Field GuidesElectronic Field Guides SibleyIdentification Bird Watching

 

A favorite among many birders and it came highly recommended. Full disclosure, I have personally never used this app but keep hearing great things.

 

Available On: iTunes or Google Play

Available Locations:

Additional Resources:


#3: Audubon Birds of North America

Audubon Birding Identification App Audubon Best Birding App Audubon Birding Identification App

My favorite part of this field guide app is that it is free! It’s great that the Audubon Society put all of this work and time into creating a fantastic electronic field guide and now just give it away!

I have this field guide on my phone alongside iBird Pro. For tricky identifications, I find it helpful to consult them both.

If you are a beginner birder, I’d recommend getting this app before spending money on one of the other field guides.

Available On: iTunes or Google Play

  • FREE!

Available Locations:

  •  North America

 Additional Resources:

 


The Best Apps to LEARN Birds by Sight and Sound:


#4: Larkwire

 

Best Best Apps for Bird Watching

 

Larkwire turns learning bird sounds into a game instead of listening to a boring audio of bird call after call. As you master some of the easier birds, the game keeps progressing to more challenging species.

 

I think it’s entertaining and a great way to learn and one of my favorite apps!

 

Larkwire has two different products, depending on the type of species you want to learn. (Land Birds of North America and Water Birds of North America)

 

Available On: iTunes or Web.

Available Locations: North America

Additional Resources:


#5: Chirp! Bird Song USA

 

Best Birding Apps Best Birding Apps Best birding Apps

 

Very similar to Larkwire except it’s a bit less expensive.

Chirp is used to learn bird songs in the United States. I don’t have much experience using it but have spoken to a few birders who use it all the time and love the user interface and ease of use.

Listen to the songs, read the helpful tips, then try the quiz to test your memory. Answer fast to earn a score multiplier and get on the high score table.

Available On: iTunes

Available Locations: United States

Additional Resources:


#6: Quizlet

Favorite Bird Watching Apps Favorite Birding Apps Favorite bird apps

Quizlet is a unique choice for this list because it was not designed to be a birding app.

Think of Quizlet as electronic flash cards. But instead of making all the flash cards yourself, you can search and add cards that have already been created by other users.

It is useful to quiz yourself on bird identification and species. I will download a deck and start learning!

For example, recently I headed out west to Utah and wanted to learn some of the western birds of North America. I searched and found multiple decks that I could use (see screen shots above!).

Quizlet can also be used to learn many other subjects, such as Spanish, history, math, etc.

Available On: iTunes or Google Play or the Web.

  • FREE! But there are some possible purchases within the app.

Available Locations:

  • Planet Earth

Additional Resources:

 


The Best Checklist Apps


#7: eBird

 

Bird Watching Apps

 

This is my favorite checklist app and probably the app that I use the most. It keeps track of every bird you have ever seen and organizes the data any way you want to search.

Interested in your life list total? Done.

Curious how many birds have been observed in your backyard? Check.

Want to compare your stats against other eBird users? Easy.

The app is simple to use. I start my checklist on my phone as I begin my birding trip and complete it before I start my car to go home. I can easily access my checklist later from my computer or phone if I need to edit later.

The eBird app can also be used to find a local birding hotspot which is a valuable tool, especially when I travel.

 

Available On: iTunes or Google Play or the Web.

  • FREE!!

Available Locations: Planet Earth

Additional Resources:

 


#8: Bird Journal

Best Checklist Apps Best Bird Watching Checklist Apps Best Checklist Bird Apps

 

I consider myself a dedicated eBirder, and it’s hard to recommend any other listing app or website.

Until I found Bird Journal.

I have not made a switch to Bird Journal yet, but it’s tempting. I love that it not only records your birds but also all of your wildlife observations (butterflies, mammals, amphibians, etc). There catch phrase is even “Remember Everything”.

 

Available On: iTunes or Google Play or the Web.

Available Locations: Planet Earth

Additional Resources:

 


The Best Apps for Automatic Recognition by Sight or Sound

These apps are probably the most exciting on the list. Each of these uses software that tries to figure out the species of bird by the information that you give. That can be either a photo, sound clip or just answering a few questions.

This technology is continually being developed, and the more users each of these apps have, the faster the software can learn and the better it will become.

I imagine and predict that in just a few short years these apps will be almost 100% correct!


#9: Merlin Bird ID

Merlin Bird App Merlin Bird App Merlin Bird App

 

Created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, it’s currently one of the apps causing the most buzz.

Not sure what bird you saw? You have two options, either answer five simple questions or just upload a picture of the bird. Merlin should at least be able to find or at least narrow down the bird to a few choices.

I recently started playing with the app and uploaded a picture of an American Robin and Mourning Dove that was in my backyard and it nailed them both. Pretty easy species to identify but a solid start!

If you don’t have a picture, answering the five questions that Merlin asks is also pretty accurate. Recently I used it to identify my first Yellow-rumped Warbler correctly!

 

Available On: iTunes or Google Play.

  • FREE!

Available Locations: 750+ species from North America.

Additional Resources:


#10: Bird Song ID USA

Best Birding Apps for Song ID Best Bird Apps for Song ID Best Birding Apps for Song ID

 

This app is similar to Merlin Bird ID, except instead of identifying birds by their picture, it will recognize the species by their song.

It’s goal is to give 3 possible birds for each recording submitted and have it be correct 85% of the time. This technology is still young and requires a very clear recording. The more recordings they receive the better the software will become!

 

Available On: iTunes or Google Play.

Available Locations: United States of America

Additional Resources:

 


Best Apps to Find Local Birds


#11: BirdsEye Bird Finding Guide

Awesome Bird Watching Apps Amazing Bird Watching Apps Fun Birding Apps

The BirdsEye Bird Finding Guide app is one of my favorites!

Its goal is to help find local bird species that you want to see. It’s especially great for rare birds or birds that you have not observed yet.

The app syncs with your eBird account and uses your location to show what bird species have been spotted and recorded from other users. You can then pull up a map to show the location where it was observed.

My favorite feature is the ability to search for birds that I have not seen yet. On the app screen, there is a tab titled “Needs.” Since BirdsEye syncs with my eBird account, it will show the birds that have not been added to my life list but have recently been spotted in my area.

Once I have found the location where the bird was observed, the app even sends me to my Google Maps app to give GPS directions to the place!

Incredible!

 

Available On: iTunes or Google Play

  • The app is free to download and use most features.
  • You can pay for a membership which unlocks the rare species in your area. For example, I live in Ohio and only get access to the most common 150 species. This is fine for now, but I will be upgrading and purchasing a membership soon. A world-wide membership is only $39.99/year.

Available Locations:

Additional Resources:


#12: BirdsEye Hotspots

Birdseye Birding App Birdseye Hotspot Birding App Birdseye Hotspot Bird Watching App

Do you need help finding a new local birding hot spot?

Are you out-of-town and need to find reliable birding destination?

That is what BirdsEye Hotspots was made for! It uses your location to find places that others have submitted observations from. It will also tell you which birds have been observed from each spot by syncing with the BirdsEye Bird Finding Guide app.

Available On: iTunes

Available Locations:

  • Planet Earth

Additional Resources:

 


Specialty Bird Apps

As we all know, identifying birds is a difficult task. There are a few apps on the market that just focus on a certain family of birds. These apps go into more detail and include more pictures and descriptions than your typical field guide.


#13: The Warbler Guide

Birding Apps Birding Apps Birding Apps

 

I live in Ohio we are known for our warblers, especially during the spring migration. It is extremely gratifying when you can identify one after a quick glance or just by sound.

But it sure is difficult!!

This app is useful because it focuses on helping to identify these challenging birds by sight or song as quickly and efficiently as possible.

 

Available On: iTunes or Google Play.

Available Locations: Warblers of North America

Additional Resources:

 


#14: Raptor ID

 

birding apps for phone Bird Watching Apps for Phone Birding Apps for Phone

 

Raptors are incredibly hard for me to identify. Normally they are soaring too far away to get a good view. Even when they are close enough to see, I get frustrated with the subtle differences between certain hawks the possibility I am looking at a juveniles.

Raptor ID by HawkWatch International specializes in the 34 raptor species in North America. If you struggle with birds of prey like me, this may be the app for you.

It has a lot of resources to help identify the raptor in flight and specializes in all the variation that can become so confusing! Even though you get a lot of information about these birds in a normal field guide, Raptor ID takes this information many steps further and does a great job of focusing just on raptors.

 

Available On: iTunes or Google Play.

Available Locations: Raptors of North America

Additional Resources:


#15: birdJam HeadsUp Sparrows

Sparrow Birding App Sparrow Birding AppSparrow Birding App

 

Similar to hawks, trying to identify sparrows is a big challenge for me!

Luckily, this app only features the 47 species of sparrows in North America and does a great job helping to make a correct identification.

I like how you pick the species you want to compare and puts them side by side. This has helped me notice some of the subtle differences between sparrow species.

 

Available On: iTunes

Available Locations: Sparrows of North America

Additional Resources:


 

And just like that, we have come to the end of the list of some of my favorite and best bird watching apps.

 

If there is one thing for sure, this list will become obsolete at some point.

 

New apps will be released. Some of these won’t be updated in years. It always happens. But I promise to keep this list updated.

 

I need your help! Please use the comments below to let me know your favorite and best bird watching apps? What do I need to check out next?

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Scott

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