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Enhance Birding with Apps & Online Resources

March 24, 2023

In today's digital age, birdwatching enthusiasts have access to a wealth of online resources and mobile apps that can significantly enhance their birding experience. From field guide apps and bird sound libraries to community platforms and citizen science projects, technology offers a variety of tools to help birders learn, connect, and contribute to the world of ornithology. This extensive guide will introduce you to some of the best birdwatching apps and online resources available, along with tips on how to effectively integrate them into your birding adventures.

1. Field Guide Apps

Field guide apps are digital versions of traditional bird field guides, offering comprehensive information about bird species, including photos, descriptions, range maps, and vocalizations. These apps provide an easily accessible and portable resource for bird identification and learning.

(a) Merlin Bird ID (link)

Developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Merlin Bird ID is a free, easy-to-use app that helps you identify birds based on your observations. By answering a few simple questions about the bird's size, color, and behavior, the app provides a list of potential matches, complete with photos, sounds, and detailed species information. Merlin Bird ID covers thousands of bird species from around the world and is continually updated with new data.

(b) Audubon Bird Guide (link)

The Audubon Bird Guide app is a free and comprehensive field guide featuring over 800 North American bird species. The app includes multiple photos of each species, detailed descriptions, range maps, and bird sounds. Users can also track their sightings, create custom lists, and access seasonal birding tips and articles from Audubon experts.

(c) iBird Pro Guide to Birds (link)

iBird Pro Guide to Birds is a paid app that offers an extensive database of North American and Hawaiian bird species. The app features illustrations, photos, range maps, bird songs, and calls, along with a powerful search engine to help you identify and learn about birds. Additional features include a bird journal, a favorites list, and the ability to compare species side-by-side.

2. Bird Sound Libraries and Apps

Bird sound libraries and apps provide access to extensive collections of bird songs and calls, helping birders improve their listening skills and identify birds by their vocalizations.

(a) Xeno-canto (link)

Xeno-canto is a collaborative online database of bird sounds from around the world. The website allows users to search for recordings by species, location, or specific sound characteristics, making it an invaluable resource for birders looking to improve their auditory identification skills.

(b) BirdNET (link)

BirdNET is a free app developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that uses artificial intelligence to identify bird sounds in real-time. Users can record bird vocalizations using their smartphone's microphone, and the app will analyze the recording and provide a list of possible species matches.

(c) Song Sleuth (link)

Song Sleuth is a paid app that helps users identify bird songs and calls using advanced audio recognition technology. The app provides real-time feedback on the user's recordings, along with visualizations of the bird sounds and detailed information about each species. Song Sleuth also includes a customizable list of bird species based on your location.

3. Community Platforms and Citizen Science Projects

Birdwatching community platforms and citizen science projects allow birders to connect with others, share their sightings, and contribute to important ornithological research.

(a) eBird (link)

eBird, a project by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is a popular online platform where birders can submit their sightings, track their bird lists, and explore real-time data on bird distribution and abundance. eBird also serves as a valuable resource for researchers, as the data collected by its users helps scientists study bird populations, migration patterns, and conservation needs.

(b) iNaturalist (link)

iNaturalist is a global community platform and app that encourages users to document and share their observations of wildlife, including birds. By uploading photos and location data, users contribute to a vast database of biodiversity information that can be used by researchers, educators, and conservationists. iNaturalist also offers a social aspect, as users can follow other birders, comment on observations, and help identify species.

(c) Project FeederWatch (link)

Project FeederWatch is a citizen science project run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Birds Canada that encourages participants to observe and report birds at their backyard feeders during the winter months. The data collected by participants helps scientists track changes in bird populations and distribution, providing valuable insights into bird ecology and conservation.

4. Bird Migration Tracking and Forecasting Tools

Understanding bird migration patterns can greatly enhance your birdwatching experience. The following tools can help you track bird migration and plan your birding outings accordingly.

(a) BirdCast (link)

BirdCast, developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is a website that provides real-time information on bird migration, including migration forecasts, live bird migration maps, and birding news. Birders can use BirdCast to plan their outings based on peak migration times and to stay informed about notable bird sightings in their area.

(b) Journey North (link)

Journey North is a citizen science project that tracks the migration of various wildlife species, including birds, across North America. The project offers an interactive map displaying real-time migration data, as well as resources for educators, students, and bird enthusiasts to learn more about the fascinating world of bird migration.

5. Bird Photography and Videography Resources

Bird photography and videography can be a rewarding aspect of birdwatching, allowing you to capture and share your observations with others. These resources can help you improve your skills and showcase your work.

(a) Birds in Focus (link)

Birds in Focus is a website dedicated to bird photography, offering tutorials, equipment recommendations, and a gallery of stunning bird images. The site is a valuable resource for bird photographers looking to hone their skills and learn more about the art and technique of capturing captivating images of birds.

(b) BirdWatching Magazine's Photography Section (link)

BirdWatching Magazine's photography section offers a wealth of articles, tips, and galleries related to bird photography. Topics covered include gear reviews, shooting techniques, post-processing tips, and inspiring photo galleries.

6. Educational Resources and Online Courses

To deepen your knowledge of birds and birdwatching, consider exploring online educational resources and courses. These can help you learn about bird biology, behavior, identification, and more.

(a) Cornell Lab Bird Academy (link)

The Cornell Lab Bird Academy offers a variety of online courses and resources for bird enthusiasts, covering topics such as bird identification, behavior, ecology, and conservation. Courses are self-paced and include engaging video lectures, quizzes, and interactive learning materials.

(b) Audubon's Online Bird Guide (link)

Audubon's online bird guide offers detailed information about North American bird species, including descriptions, photos, range maps, and vocalizations. The guide also provides articles on bird identification, behavior, and ecology, making it an excellent resource for birders of all skill levels.

7. Birdwatching Podcasts and Video Channels

For those who enjoy learning through audio and visual formats, birdwatching podcasts and video channels offer engaging content on a wide range of bird-related topics.

(a) BirdNote (link)

BirdNote is a daily podcast that shares short, captivating stories about birds and their fascinating lives. Episodes cover a diverse array of topics, from bird behavior and conservation to interesting facts and historical anecdotes. BirdNote is an excellent way to expand your bird knowledge while on the go.

(b) The American Birding Association (ABA) Podcast (link)

The ABA Podcast, produced by the American Birding Association, features interviews with birding experts, discussions on birding topics, and updates on ABA programs and initiatives. The podcast offers a wealth of information and insights for birders of all skill levels.

(c) Cornell Lab of Ornithology's YouTube Channel (link)

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's YouTube channel offers a wide range of videos on bird research, conservation, behavior, and identification. The channel also features live bird cams, allowing viewers to observe nesting birds and their young in real-time.


The world of birdwatching has been significantly enhanced by technology, with countless apps and online resources available to help birders learn, connect, and contribute to ornithological research. By exploring field guide apps, bird sound libraries, community platforms, migration tracking tools, photography resources, and educational materials, you can enrich your birding experience and develop a deeper appreciation for the fascinating lives of our feathered friends.