The best iPhone and iPad apps for bird watching

Do you need an app to help you identify birds in the wild? Whatever you do, don't search “birds” in the App Store because all that will gain you is iterations of the Angry Birds game that will be of exactly zero use to you. Obviously, what you want is an app to help you identify a bird by appearance or song, and maybe one that allows you to compare similar birds. And a search function would be nice. Check out our list of the best bird watching apps for the iPhone and iPad.

18 Mar 2016, by Matt Tennison

eBird Mobile has tons of features to help you in your bird watching hobby. You can keep track of the birds you see and link those with an online database of bird records used by birders around the world. You get checklists customized for your location and season, GPS-enabled location plotting, full offline functionality, trip and day list functionality, map tools, and more. When you see a rare species it will be flagged on the checklist and during data entry, and common names are available in local languages. This is a mobile companion for the eBird website and you will need an account.

  • Enter bird observations from anywhere
  • Link to your eBird account online
  • Global online database
  • Record as you go
  • Free app for bird watching

Birds Near Me is a bird field guide you can use to find birds near you or listen to songs, view pictures, and read information about any bird in the world. This app is powered by eBird to give you a list of birds recently spotted in your area. Flickr photographers have shared their photos. Xeno-Canto and recordings have shared their audio recordings. The species introductions come from Wikipedia. You'll have access to information on birding hotspots near you, you can search for songs, pictures, sightings, and more on over 10,000 birds from across the world. This app was designed for birders by birders, and it is completely free.

  • Find birds near you
  • Listen to song, see pictures, and learn about any bird
  • Sightings shared from eBird
  • Designed by a birder
  • Free iPhone and iPad app for bird watching

BirdsEye Bird Finding Guide is for bird watchers of any level; the free version is great for beginners and intermediates and is chock-full of amazing photographs from guides, bird photographers, and top birders. Check out the 100 most common birds near you and learn about the birds you are most likely to observe in your yard or neighborhood. When you want more information, paid subscriptions give you more access. You can view recent eBird sightings, see customized lists of birds recently reported near you, and find out how many birds of the same type are usually near you depending on location. You can also get driving directions to any sighting or hotspot.

  • Checklists
  • Set Favorite Locations
  • See reports of rare and notable birds in your area
  • See reports for recent sightings near you
  • Free with in-app purchases for more features

Merlin Bird ID helps you figure out what bird it is you see or hear. The app will ask you a few questions and show a list of birds that best match your description. The app is simple and easy to use and all the information comes from Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It was created for beginner and intermediate bird watchers and identifies the 400  most common birds in Canada and mainland U.S. There are more than 1000 photos of birds and customized date and location tools will give you the best answers for your present location.

  • 400 most-common bird species in U.S. and Canada
  • Customized date and location tools
  • Answer a few questions and the app gives you a list of likely birds
  • Listen to bird songs and calls
  • Free app for bird watching

Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab of Ornithology app review: identify and learn about the birds in your neighborhood

Chirp! will help you identify and learn bird songs. If you hear birds every day, wouldn't you like to know what kind of bird it is that you hear? The app was developed by nature specialists and lets you learn more than 300 bird songs from across mainland USA. There's up to 34 seconds of song for each bird and some bird listings also include alternative recordings. Make a shortlist of your favorites so you can find them quickly, sort by commonness, or select birds from an entire range. At first the app will select birds for your current location but then you can select any state or group of states on the map.

  • Identify and learn bird songs
  • Developed by nature specialists
  • Songs come from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • Sort by commonness
  • All features included in initial price

This app helps you explore hotspots all over the world and its goal is to help you get there as easily as possible. You can get driving, transit, or walking directions to any hotspot worldwide. The app works with most popular navigation and map apps. You can link directly to the new BirdsEye app to see local charts of the birds found at each hotspot, you'll get key weather information for the hotspot where you plan to head, and you will see the sunrise and sunset times so you will know how much daylight you will have. This app requires cellular data or WiFi to access hotspot information.

  • Explore hotspots all over the world
  • World wide access to eBird hotspots
  • Sunrise and sunset times
  • Local weather data
  • All features included in price

Daily Bird is a unique app on this list as it isn't a guide: it's a photo-a-day calendar. Each day you will see a beautiful photo along with interesting facts and finding tips for a particular bird. You can use the app as a clock and have it on display, check in daily to learn interesting new facts, and share with friends. Turn it into a game and see if your friends can identify the bird from the photograph! The photographs come from BirdsEye contributors. You'll get reminders to see if you can ID today's bird, too. If you need something to pick you up on a gray and dreary day, set up your device on your desk and pretend you're outside looking at birds!

  • Educational
  • Share with friends
  • Check in every day
  • A photo a day calendar with beautiful photography
  • Free app for bird watching

ibird Ultimate Guide to Birds lets you search for any bird from the Spotlight screen. You can also Save Search and it's super easy to use to identify birds. It includes the Birds Around Me feature that shows you just the birds near your GPS area. Day theme is black text on a paper-white background and Night theme keeps your device from alerting every animal nearby. Almost all birds listed have songs and calls here and there are both illustrations and photos. There are 37 different search attributes covering size, color, habitat, bill shape, and more.

  • Search for any bird using its Common, Latin, or species Band Code
  • Favorites, Lists, and Notes
  • Both photos and illustrations
  • Save Search remembers you search settings after you quit the app
  • All features included in the price

iBird Ultimate Guide to Birds app review

EyeLoveBirds is easy to use and designed for all bird watchers. It's filled with beautiful photographs and profiles of the 25 most common birds of North America. You get full scientific information on each bird and over 100 high-resolution photos. Developers are currently working on adding hundreds more birds, bird lists, and more data points including pattern notes, colors, lifespan, and incubation details. It will also include sort and search functionality and playable bird calls. As it is right now, all the birds are listed in alphabetical order using their common names and their Latin names are shown underneath the common name.

  • 25 most common birds of North America
  • Details on location, description, and behavior
  • Over 100 beautiful photos
  • Normal photo viewing functionality
  • Free app for bird watching

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