I can’t imagine leaving my smartphone at home when birding! As technology continues to advance, it has become an invaluable tool.
For example, I have birding apps for just about everything, including field guides, checklists, automatic sound recognition, and even apps that help me find local birds that I’m looking for!
But trying to find birding apps that work well can be difficult.
I have downloaded some losers that were deleted immediately. 🙂
This post is dedicated to sharing my favorite bird-watching apps.
Please check back often, as I will do my best to keep this page updated with new apps and eliminate ones that are no longer useful. Most of the apps listed below I own and use on my phone or tablet.
Table of Contents:
Checklist Apps (2)
Apps That Help You Identify Birds:
One of my favorite tips for birding beginners is to download a great field guide on your phone or tablet. It will change your life by 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
iBird Pro is my favorite field guide that I use on my phone!
It’s super easy to search for birds using different features (size, color, location, etc.). It’s also nice that they have BOTH drawings AND pictures of each bird, which really helps me correctly identify each species.
Lastly, the vast library of sounds is also extremely valuable. Being able to compare sounds and calls has assisted in many tricky identifications.
But there is ONE negative to iBird Pro.
Unfortunately, you have to pay a monthly subscription fee to use it. I think it’s worth the cost, but I wanted to give you this warning.
If you are looking for a FREE app to help with bird identification, keep reading.
#2: Audubon Bird Guide
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 they 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. 🙂
#3: Merlin Bird ID
Not sure what bird you saw? This app, created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is here to help.
Incredibly, this birding app uses Artificial Intelligence to help with identification.
If you saw a mystery bird, you can use Merlin Bird ID one of two ways:
- Answer five simple questions.
- Upload or take a picture of the bird.
I recently started playing with the app and uploaded a picture of an American Robin and Mourning Dove from 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 Merlin asks is also pretty accurate. For example, recently, I used it to identify a Yellow-rumped Warbler correctly!
At the very least, Merlin should at least be able to at least narrow down the bird to a few choices.
And guess what?
Merlin Bird ID can also make suggestions on birds that you HEARD! As you probably know, identifying bird songs can be tricky, so having a little help is much appreciated.
#4: The Warbler Guide
Seeing a warbler is one thing, but trying to identify the correct species is a whole other challenge.
This birding app is useful because it focuses on helping to identify warblers by sight or song as quickly and efficiently as possible.
If you want to become an expert at warblers, this is the app for you! 🙂
The Warbler Guide App Tutorials and FAQs – The Warbler Guide home page
#5: Raptor ID
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 or the possibility I am looking at a juvenile.
Raptor ID by HawkWatch International specializes in the 34 raptor species in North America. So 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 raptors in flight and specializes in all the variations 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.
The Best Apps to LEARN Birds by Sight and Sound:
As they say, practice makes perfect! These birding apps help teach you how to identify birds.
Do you think that learning bird sounds by listening to call after call can get boring and repetitive?
Well, this birding app might be just what you need. 🙂
Larkwire turns learning bird sounds into a fun game! And as you master some of the easier birds, the game keeps progressing to more challenging species.
I think it’s super entertaining and a great way to learn bird calls and songs. It’s definitely one of my favorite apps for watching birds!
- No iPhone? No problem! Just go to Larkwire’s website to create an account and start learning today.
- North America
Please read my full personal Larkwire review: The Gamification of Learning Bird Sounds
#7: Chirp! Bird Song USA
Chirp is used to learn songs for birds that live in the United States and Canada. This birding app is very similar to Larkwire, except it’s a bit less expensive.
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. 🙂
Chirp! – Home Page
- Youtube video showing how to use Chirp:
Quizlet is a unique choice for this list because it was not designed to be an app for learning birds.
Regardless, it is incredibly helpful!
Think of Quizlet as electronic flashcards. But instead of making all the flashcards yourself, you can search and add cards that other users have created.
There are many flashcards already available that can teach you how to identify different birds. Within a few minutes, you can download a deck and start quizzing yourself.
For example, recently, I headed out west to Utah and wanted to learn about some of the birds of western North America. I searched and found multiple decks that I could use.
- Google Play
- Did I mention this app is FREE! But there are some possible purchases within the app.
- Includes valuable information, such as how Quizlet works and how to download and use the flashcards.
The Best Checklist Apps
The next few birding apps are designed to help you keep track of the birds you have seen!
This bird watching app is probably the one that I use the most. It keeps track of every bird you have ever seen and organizes the data in just about any way you can imagine.
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 a new 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 it later.
The eBird app can also be used to find a local birding hotspot which is a valuable tool, especially when traveling.
Please read my full review of the app: eBird: The Birding App I Use the Most (lots of screenshots)
I consider myself a dedicated eBirder, and it’s hard to recommend any other listing app or website.
If you are only interested in birds, then eBird is going to be the app you want to use to track all the species you have seen.
But if you also enjoy tracking reptiles, mammals, amphibians, or plants that you have observed, then it’s worth checking out iNaturalist. Basically, anything you see, the app keeps track of for you AND helps you identify it. Just upload a picture and let Artificial Intelligence do the rest (and if that doesn’t work, then another member will help you). 🙂
Best App to Find Local Birds
This birding app helps you find local areas where birds are being seen.
#11: BirdsEye Bird Finding Guide
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 by 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 bird’s location, the app even sends me to my Google Maps app to give GPS directions to the place! Incredible!
- Google Play
- The app is free to download and use most features. You can pay for a membership that unlocks the rare species in your area. For example, I live in Ohio and only get access to the most common 150 species for free.
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!
What are your favorite apps for watching birds?
Please use the COMMENTS below to let me know what I should check out next.