How iPhone Birding Apps Work

Popular iPhone Birding Apps

Can you identify this bird by its lashes? It's a ground hornbill, which you might spot on the African savannah.
Can you identify this bird by its lashes? It's a ground hornbill, which you might spot on the African savannah.

Birdwatchers should watch for these apps to enhance their adventures in the woods:

BirdsEye: This app provides a convenient way for birders to send their observations to eBird. The latter is a real-time online database created in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society that has revolutionized birding by allowing users to share and analyze data from millions of sightings across North America. In addition to easy data entry, the app provides a map of birding hotspots and species seen in particular areas, as well as images and audio samples of calls for 470 bird species [source:].

iBird Explorer Pro: This interactive field guide includes all 924 bird species found in North America and Hawaii, including extinct ones. It includes what the maker touts as "Audubon-quality" color illustrations and full-color range maps for every species. But the app's strongest selling point may be its database, which allows users to search by song, conservation status, genus, species, shape, size, color, flight pattern, bill shape and length, and wing shape, among other variables [source:].

Peterson's Birds of North America: The print version of Peterson's has been the virtual Bible of birdwatchers for the past 75 years, so it's no surprise that the iPhone version is quickly becoming a mainstay as well. The depth and breadth of the data in this app is amazing; it includes not only data and pictures for 800-plus bird species, but also 500 photographs of various species' nests and eggs. One nifty function allows a user to compare two similar species on the same screen, to differentiate them [source:].

Birdtunes: This app gives users access to an encyclopedic collection of bird songs and calls for 674 North American bird species, including between two and eight different song types for each bird. It also provides tips on regional differences in sounds from the same species. All in all, it's an invaluable tool for aurally identifying birds [source: Kammermeier].

Audubon Birds: New York Times technology writer Bob Tedeschi touted this app in 2010 for having "the broadest range of bird calls and the best photography" of any field guide. The app's sketches highlight key identifying features for particular species, such as the two white wing bars on the Baltimore oriole [source: Tedeschi].