Birdwatching Apps iBird Pro Birds North America vs iBird Lite Free Guide to Birds vs Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab ... and 12 more

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Bird watching or birding is a great way to get outside and enjoy the natural world. Regardless of whether you live in a city or a rural setting, birds can be spotted everywhere. Identifying which birds you're seeing used to involve lugging around a clunky field guide but with the dawning of the digital age, all that data is now neatly stored within a mobile app.

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Below we discuss several birding apps that will cater to any level of experience. If you're new to the hobby of birding, it might be best to test out a few pf the free demo versions before making any purchases.

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Method 1: iBird Pro Birds North America

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iBird Pro Birds North America is a popular choice for both experienced and novice birders and comes loaded with an impressive index of North American bird species.

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In addition to an extensive catalog, iBird Pro can identify birds with both audio clips and photos taken with the user's device, either online or offline.

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    Features
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    1. Bright and detailed illustrations and photos that can be zoomed up to 400%.
    2. Utilizes iBird's patented "Percevia™" matching system.
    3. Search birds by population size or endangered status.
    4. Plays sounds and specific calls to attract various birds for better identification.
    5. Detailed and comprehensive migratory maps.
    6. Entire database can be downloaded to device's SD storage for offline usage.
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  3. 3
    Cost/Fees
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    1. Android - $14.99
    2. iOS - $14.99
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  4. 4
    Download/Install
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    1. iBird Pro Birds North America can be downloaded from Google Play and iTunes
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Method 2: iBird Lite Free Guide to Birds

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iBird Lite Free Guide to Birds is the free demo version of the app discussed above and is a great way for beginners to get a feel for the hobby of bird watching.

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With completely current AOU and ABA checklists, a database of 50 North American species, iBird Lite ensures users have a wealth of information directly on their mobile device.

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    1. iBird cloud storage available for syncing and backing up notes.
    2. Search by location, shape, size, family, habitat, color, etc.
    3. Massive library of sounds and vocalization information.
    4. Enhanced gallery viewing for quick browsing and referencing.
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    Cost/Fees
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    1. Free version.
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  4. 4
    Download/Install
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    1. iBird Lite Free Guide to Birds can be downloaded from Google Play and iTunes.
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Method 3: Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab

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Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab is a handy little mobile app that can help both intermediate and beginner bird enthusiasts identify up to 1100 species.

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The app can accurately identify a bird by a photo, or by asking the user a series of five questions.

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    1. Identifies birds from photos; choose an image and enter the location and Merlin Bird ID will list some suggested species.
    2. 7000+ pictures of males, females, and juveniles.
    3. Identifies 1100 of the most common birds found in the continental United States, Canada, Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala.
    4. Explore birds by location.
    5. Listen to a variety of bird songs from the Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
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  3. 3
    Cost/Fees
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    1. Free version.
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  4. 4
    Download/Install
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    1. Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab can be downloaded from Google Play and iTunes.
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Method 4: Audubon Birds of North America

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Audubon Birds of North America is a powerful mobile field guide resource for Android and iOS.

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Avian buffs can quickly and accurately identify 808 species of birds. Completely free to download, Audubon Birds of North America is an excellent resource for novice and advanced bird lovers who desire University level information, available right from their phone or tablet.

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    1. Identify 808 different species and get detailed information on appearance, habitat, behavior, and more.
    2. Over 3200 images from Drexel University's worldwide collection of bird photography.
    3. 8+ hours of high-quality bird sounds and songs.
    4. Field mark diagrams.
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  3. 3
    Cost/Fees
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    1. Free version.
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  4. 4
    Download/Install
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    1. Audubon Birds of North America can be downloaded from Google Play and iTunes.
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Method 5: iBird Yard Plus Guide to Birds

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iBird Yard is similar to the other iBird installments mentioned in this article; only it's dedicated to identifying birds typically found in yards.

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In addition to identifying most common species found in gardens throughout North America, iBird Yard Plus Guide to Birds also has several other species listed in its indexes, such as various seabirds and raptors.

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    1. Identify birds by color, size, shape and 34 other attributes.
    2. Professional photographs and hand-drawn illustrations.
    3. Quickly search with iBirds fluid icon-based gallery.
    4. Key ID Field marks to identify males, females, juveniles and sub-species better.
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  3. 3
    Cost/Fees
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    1. Free version.
    2. In-app purchases at $2.99 per item.
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  4. 4
    Download/Install
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    1. iBird Yard Plus Guide to Birds can be downloaded from Google Play and iTunes.
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Method 6: Bird Song Id USA Automatic Rec

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Designed by professionally publish ecologists, Bird Song ID USA Automatic Rec is a fun and useful mobile app that can accurately identify birds around you by their calls, sounds, and songs.

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As a standout in the area of bird sound recognition, Bird Song ID comes with an impressive library of songs and sound for 118 different species.

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    1. 241 songs, calls and sounds.
    2. Record your own bird sounds and keep a detailed journal.
    3. Fully functional offline.
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  3. 3
    Cost/Fees
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    1. Android - $7.11
    2. iOS - $7.99
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  4. 4
    Download/Install
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    1. Bird Song ID USA can be downloaded from Google Play and iTunes.
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Method 7: eBird by Cornell Lab

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eBird by Cornell Lab is a global online database that tracks and logs bird observations from hundreds of thousands of users from around the world.

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The cool thing about eBird is the fact that birders' data and observations are used openly for scientific studies, along with providing lots of information on a large number of species, based on The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World.

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    Books & Reference
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    1. Log observations from any location in the world.
    2. GPS location plotting supported.
    3. Common bird names available in local languages.
    4. Mapping tools with hundreds of thousands of eBird Hotspots.
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    Cost/Fees
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    1. Free version.
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  4. 4
    Download/Install
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    1. eBird can be downloaded from [ Google Play] and iTunes.
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Method 8: Sibley Birds of North America

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Sibley Birds of North America brings the world's most popular printed field guide to North American birds in its entirety, to a mobile-optimized digital app.

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Although the app comes with a higher than average price tag, it jams in a great deal of professionally accurate information on anything related to North American birds.

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    1. 6600+ images.
    2. All species displayed in-flight and perched from various viewpoints.
    3. Detailed migration and seasonal maps.
    4. Intuitive and easy-to-use interface for quick navigation.
    5. Compare two images side-by-side.
    6. 2300+ recorded sounds and calls covering nearly all species supported with the app.
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  3. 3
    Cost/Fees
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    1. Android - $18.99
    2. iOS - $27.99
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  4. 4
    Download/Install
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    1. Sibley Birds of North America can be downloaded from Google Play and iTunes.
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Method 9: Bird Guide Europe

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Bird Guide Europe by SnakeBunk is a great reference tool neatly packed into a mobile-optimized app that offers users a variety of ways to navigate through the various species of birds.

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Bird Guide Europe is constantly being updated to ensure it represents the latest taxonomy according to the IOC World Bird List.

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    1. Supports 393 of the most common birds found in European countries.
    2. Easy navigation between species.
    3. 450+ professional photos.
    4. Languages supported; Catalan, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish or Swedish.
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    Cost/Fees
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    1. Free version.
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  4. 4
    Download/Install
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    1. Bird Guide Europe can be downloaded from Google Play.
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Method 10: Bird Song Id: Auto Recognition - Birds of the British Isle

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The British Isle version of Bird Song ID functions the same as the USA version, using the same sound recognition technology, only it covers species found all over the UK.

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Although many apps have attempted to emulate Bird Song ID, none have come close to the 85% success rate that is achieved by both users and the app's creators.

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    1. Great for recognizing various songbirds such as the; warbler, finch, sparrow, thrush, flycatcher and many more.
    2. Covers most popular birds from British Isle.
    3. Works offline, no Internet connection required for song recognition.
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  3. 3
    Cost/Fees
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    1. Android - $5.49
    2. iOS - $5.49
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  4. 4
    Download/Install
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    1. AppName can be downloaded from Google Play and iTunes.
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Method 11: Bird Id - British Birds

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Bird ID - British Birds is another useful app by Sunbird images that helps birders accurately identify most birds of the British Isles.

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Bird ID is one of the only apps that uses the KUSAM species identification methodology, which is a modern, state-of-the-art keying system specifically designed for mobile devices.

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    1. Users can add their sightings to the apps maps.
    2. Uses proprietary images and audio for identification.
    3. Easily keep a log of all your bird identifications for quick future reference.
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  3. 3
    Cost/Fees
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    1. Android - $4.99
    2. iOS - 4.49€
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  4. 4
    Download/Install
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    1. Bird ID - British Birds can be downloaded from Google Play and iTunes.
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Method 12: BirdsEye Bird Finding Guide

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BirdsEye Bird Finding Guide is another great mobile app that gives users instant information and answers regarding birds in their local area.

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BirdEye is an essential field guide for anyone interested in birding, regardless of their experience or training. With the easy-to-use search function, users can get up to speed quickly on the various species spotted where they live.

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    1. Instant bird lists - see organized lists of birds in your area from other users.
    2. See recent eBird sightings for any species.
    3. Bird names supported in multiple languages; English (US, UK, Australia, UAE), Español (local bird name options for Argentina, Chile, México, Panamá and more), Finnish, German, Japanese, Chinese, and more.
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  3. 3
    Cost/Fees
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    1. Free version.
    2. In-app purchases ranging from $0.99 - $79.99 per item.
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  4. 4
    Download/Install
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    1. BirdsEye Bird Finding Guide can be downloaded from Google Play and iTunes
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Method 13: UK Birds - Birdwatching App

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UK Birds by Thom Shutt is another mobile optimized field guide that specializes in 600 species that have been spotted in Great Britain or the British Isles.

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With great photos and zooming available, users can hone in on those details that can help better distinguish between species.

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    1. Easily filter birds by status, type or name.
    2. Mark spotted birds to keep track of all the different species sighted.
    3. 40 songbird songs included with more being added regularly.
    4. 100% functional offline without an Internet connection.
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    Cost/Fees
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    1. Free version.
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  4. 4
    Download/Install
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    1. UK Birds - Birdwatching App can be downloaded from Google Play.
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Method 14: Birding Notebook

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Birding Notebook for Android is an excellent companion to any of the numerous apps discussed above as it's primary function is to log and track all your bird sightings.

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Users can share their bird observations with the ever-growing world-wide birding community, directly from the app.

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    Travel & Local
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    1. No new account creation required, sign in with an existing Google account to get started.
    2. Visit and create new birding spots with GPS and Google maps reverse geocoding function.
    3. Share expeditions and observations with other bird watchers.
    4. Listen to bird sounds via Xeno Canto.
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    1. Free version.
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  4. 4
    Download/Install
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    1. Birding Notebook can be downloaded from Google Play.
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Method 15: Bird Calls, Sounds & Ringtones

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Bird Calls, Sounds & Ringtones for Android isn't your typical field guide inspired birding app.

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Instead, it provides users with a variety of amazing bird calls, sounds, and songs, recorded directly from nature. Both educational and fun, Bird Calls, Sounds & Ringtones is a great mobile tool to help users discern between multiple bird calls and songs.

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    Music & Audio
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    1. Bird vocalization for both sounds and songs.
    2. Set bird calls, songs, and sounds as ring or alert tones.
    3. 43 bird sounds included.
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  3. 3
    Cost/Fees
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    1. Free version.
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  4. 4
    Download/Install
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    1. Bird Calls, Sounds & Ringtones can be downloaded from Google Play.
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Nature is wonderful and experiencing it to the fullest is something all humans should have the inherent right to do. Having a few handy and informative birding or nature-related apps installed on your phone is a great way to turn an ordinary hike or wooded trip into a learning experience.

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If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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Recent edits by: Jay

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