Birding with an iPhone/iPad

Merry Christmas! Did you get a new iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad for Christmas? Last Christmas I listed my favorite apps for these devices and as I started to write this post I wondered what I had recommended last year. Interestingly enough, most of my recommendations are the same as last year. Most of these apps were updated multiple times and improved, keeping them at the top of the pack in my opinion. There are some new ones however. All of the apps below come at my highest recommendation after using them for many hours over the past year.

Bird finding

BirdsEye ($19.99 iTunes link) for iPhone and iPod Touch

This is the number one birding app for me, easily the one that I use the most. Harnessing the power of eBird (you do use it right?), you can quickly see what birds have been seen in the area and what’s been seen in the last week. I enter my year list into the app and it tells me which birds not on my list have been reported nearby. You can select a single species and view all the closest reports. I’ve found myself using this app daily to see what birds are being reported nearby by other birders and to keep track of my year list. As a bonus, Kenn Kaufman offers little bits of wisdom for each bird and there are multiple calls and songs for each species. I consider this app a must buy for any serious birder.


Birdwatcher’s Diary ($12.99 iTunes link) for iPhone and iPod Touch

This is the newest app I have started using and once you get it down it really makes the process of keeping checklists and uploading them to eBird painfully simple. It has powerful listing features that let you keep track of all your life, state, county and whatever else lists. Read the full review.

Bird Guides

The Sibley eGuide to the Birds of North America ($29.99 iTunes link) for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

If you are a fan of the Sibley Bird Guides, this is the app to get. You get all the information and first-class illustrations of the Sibley guides, plus a good number of songs and calls for each species. Another nice feature is the ability to compare two species. The ability to fit the entire “big Sibley” into my pocket is awesome and I definitely recommend this to any serious birder out there. The Sibley eGuide has also been updated to fit the iPad’s screen, keeping this app at the top of my list for bird guides. It is just like the printed guide and sparse on any sort of natural history information. Multiple high quality recordings are available for each bird species.  Read the full review.

Peterson Birds of North America ($14.99 iTunes link) for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch

What can you say about this thats not obvious. With the paper Peterson Field Guide, Roger Tory Peterson revolutionized birding and the app definitely does it justice. I am not a fan of the illustrations as much as Sibley’s but they are still pretty good. You can flip through plates of birds which means you can see multiple species on the same screen, a feature that is mostly lacking from the other apps. The Peterson app contains info from all the relevant Peterson Guides including the Warblers of North America, Hawks of North America and Hummingbirds of North America, as well as molt info for each family from the new Molt book. So, you are getting way more than just one book’s worth of information. There is also a pretty usable listing feature allowing you to keep track of multiple life/year/location lists simultaneously. This is another universal app meaning it will work great on both your iPhone and iPad. Read my previous review here.

Audubon Birds – A Field Guide to North American Birds ($14.99 iTunes link)

If you are looking for a field guide with photographs, this is definitely your best option. Audubon Birds features many great photos of each bird species as well as a wealth of additional information. A feature I like is the list of similar species, allowing you to quickly go back and forth between other species that might be confusing to identify in the field. They recently added a Find Birds with eBird feature similar to BirdsEye, showing you birds seen nearby, local hotspots, and any notable or rare species that have been reported recently. I haven’t had a chance to write up a full review yet so look for it soon. This app is also a universal app, formatted for both the iPhone and iPad screen.