The 11 Best Birding Apps in 2023! (iPhone & Android)
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:
Apps That Help You Identify Birds (5)
Apps That Teach You HOW To ID Birds By Sight and Sound (3)
Checklist Apps (2)
Apps to Help Find Local Birds (1)
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.
- In addition to North America, they also have Hawaii and the United Kingdom available.
My personal review of iBird Pro: iBird Pro Guide to Birds: The Reason I Don’t Carry Paper Field Guides
iBird Home Page: Great resource to learn about their apps and different locations.
#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. 🙂
- Google Play
#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.
- Google Play
#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! 🙂
- Google Play
- Normally around $12.99.
The Warbler Guide App Tutorials and FAQs – The Warbler Guide home page
App review from All About Birds
#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.
- Google Play
- FREE! (It used to cost $9.99)
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, then 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
Larkwire Home Page
#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. 🙂
- Google Play
- Normally around $3.99.
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.
Quizlet Home Page
Quizlet Help Center
- 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.
- Google Play
Please read my full review of the app: eBird: The Birding App I Use the Most (lots of screenshots)
More About eBird.
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.
I use Merlin and eBird, which are both put together by Cornell University. The two apps work hand-in-hand. When you ID a bird in Merlin, it adds it to your life list in e-bird. The thing I really love about Merlin app is that you can download bird lists for different areas. I no longer live in the US and I travel extensively. I want to ID birds in all the places where I go. I’ve ID’ed birds in France, where I live, and all around South America, Europe, the UK, North Africa, where I’ve traveled. I even gathered over a dozen new birds during a cruise down the Nile. It’s so exciting to “catch” a bird in a new place and add it to my life list. So, if you anticipate trying to bird in areas away from the North America, I suggest using Merlin and eBird.
Merlin is my go-to for voice ID. It works very well for most. It is still fairly new, so not every bird is in there yet, but it’s getting there.
I am unable to find this. I check with google play app and nothing comes up.
Merlin has sound ID that works very well. It is still a work in progress but fun to use.
Merlin bird id has an excellent song recognition program
Brilliant article and you’ve really given me the tools I wanted! Thank you
Both my Apps… are Databased Bird cataloguing Log PC & Mobile systems that can take or cover any birds in the World ..
if I am allowed I have links to both .. the mobile PWA app £9.95 and there is No Adds in All my Apps .. is free to try for 14 days…
These apps are not to be confused with FREE! Play Stores which are riddled with Adds and touting for custom…
The Windows PC Version is Buy only!..£3.95 .. Bothe on eBay… for you to view and decide.. with a full 100% money back GAUARANTEE if not delighted .. so nothing to lose..
They are under the search heading of “Birding3000” in “Books” catagory .. as there is No other PC or Mobile software Like it…
If you are looking for an app full of bird pictures that have all info with them that you can just tick off… then this is not..
You have to fill in the Log/Journal as you discover your birds…
I have been making software for over 25 years and Hobby Software for most of that..
Poddley tale’s Euro
Hi Lyn. Does your app cover global birds or is it only in one region?
Take a look at the FeatherFlix App at the App Store and Google Apps. Bird identification based on actual video of birds making their songs and other noises. It makes identification much easier than using still images or bird audio without video.
I’d love to find a bird id app that is helpful to id by recording the song. So often we hear the birds but can’t get a good visual!! Any suggestions??
Chirp Birding has been replaced by an even better app called Birda. Here are all the new details if anyone is interested 🙂
iOS app: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/birda/id1564130920
Are you asking for a database of a single bird that you can add to or update? Or are you looking for a database of misc. info that can be gathered latter and potentially used to figure out a bird type?
If you are watching a specific bird or birds you could use almost any app that uses MarkDown, or more specifically hashtags #.
That way you could update or add info to a specific bird by simply typing the hashtag/# assigned to said bird, and also every time you search for that hashtag/#, everything you’ve attached that hashtag/# to will automatically pop-up.
There are also lots of templates through Excel, Numbers, Google Spreadsheets and apps like Bear, Notion, Craft, Evernote (although no one is sure how long Evernote will be around in the coming years) and many many task and organizing apps.
I’ve found that it’s helpful to define what exactly I want, then find an app that does what I want, or comes close to my requirements.
(If you happen to find a birding app that does all these and that you like, please share it here. I’m always eager to check out new options. 😀)
Are you aware of any apps where I can keep a private checklist (add to it when I find time) that prevents me from listing a bird more than once? I don’t like the pressure of immediately and accurately identifying a bird for official count. I truly just want something for my own use. Thank you!
Birds Near Me is great if you want to find out what birds are near you. One of the two downsides is, it doesn’t tell you when the bird was seen, so you don’t know if it was seen 1 hour ago or 5 hours ago. It also has a field guide and an option to see a list of birds people have reported that are uncommon for your area. The other downside is that you can’t search the field guide by country or region, so you have to know what you’re looking for ahead of time. Go Bird is also good. It does tell you how many hours ago the bird was seen. It even allows you to see what rare birds have been reported near you recently. Overall, it is a good app. However, I would recommend that anyone who uses it avoid looking at pictures of the birds or at least be cautious because I’ve run across a couple photos that were pictures of dead birds with their heads missing. It was horrible. I contacted the developer with a complaint, but he never responded. For anyone looking for an electric field guide, I’d recommend iBird Ultimate Guide to Birds. It’s my absolute favorite efield guide. It’s a little expensive but well worth the money! The only complaints I have are that the glossary tab won’t work and it doesn’t tell you what types of feeders the bird is attracted to if applicable. It also does not tell you what birds have been seen near you, where, and when. Other than that, it’s great! Would highly recommend it for anyone getting started in birding. I use it a lot!
All of them are closed source software, all of then are, thus, spyware. If you don’t have anything to hide you just publish your source code even if you use a license that doesn’t permit to copy or modify it.
Closed source = fishy intentions, foks.
Thanks! I’m a beginner bidder and this list was useful
What an interesting request.
Well, you should know it. The list on this page is highly interesting but also totally North America biased. It would be interesting to have a section devoted to birding away from NA.
iObs and ObsMapp are competitors to eBird that have been in use for many years now and have a really decent following in Europe, Africa and Asia. In its country of origin, The Netherlands, annually some 7+ million nature observations are collected. This is an area of just over 17,000 square miles, 1.5 times Maryland approx.
Cheers and thanks for your overview.
I’d be interested in seeing your list of rejected apps and a few short words on why and the last date you checked on them. Would definitely help with chosing my own app set.
Do you know the iObs app (this is the iPhone version, ObsMaps is the android). You can use it to record all your shigtings. Birds, mammels, butterflies, plants, tree, insects, fish and more.
It is related to the website http://www.observation.org that started in the Netherlands but is now worldwide.
Hello Larissa! No, unfortunately, I don’t have any experience with that website or app. Do you use it or have you tried it out? If so, would you recommend?
I really like my Audubon Birds Pro app, but it takes a lot of space on my Android Phone. Is there an app that is just as good but takes up LESS space?
How much space does it take up and what type of phone do you have? This used to be my biggest complaint with iBird Pro, which is the field guide app that I use. For the last few years, I have had an iPhone 6 with 64gb of storage, so it’s not really an issue anymore (iBird uses about 2gb). Unfortunately, after taking a quick glance at the storage size for a few different field guide apps, it seems that Audubon (68.4mb) is about the lowest.