Explore five apps to help identify and record birds when you are out in the field.
eBird is the first and arguably most important of the birding apps I will be mentioning in this article. eBird is the main app for finding and recording birds, as it allows you to easily search local hotspots to see what other local naturalists have spotted, as well as submit your own checklists, and contribute to arguably the largest citizen science bird database! This app also allows you to easily look back over your own observations, as well as find out where to see birds you haven’t seen yet in your local area through the ‘targets’ filter. eBird also runs an ‘eBirder of the month’ challenge every month, which once the criteria have been fulfilled (e.g. submit 30 checklists within the month of July), then you will be entered in a raffle to win a pair of high-end binoculars!
Merlin is a super useful app, mostly used for bird identification via bird calls. This is a great way to learn birdcalls, as well as simply find out what’s around! However, Merlin is not used only for sound ID, it can also be used for photo ID, as well as formulate a best-guess of what bird you have seen based on location as well as description of: colour, size, behaviour etc…
Seek is mainly a photo ID and recording app, which can be used effectively in conjunction with iNaturalist. Seek also has the upside of not being exclusive to birds, and can ID all other taxa as well! Seek is a less science-y and more fun sort of way of recording sightings, even providing monthly challenges with collectible achievements and badges!
iNaturalist is like a more scientific version of Seek, and in fact, Seek’s photo ID AI works based on photos submitted to iNaturalist. It is essentially a community of naturalists who will work together to ID other naturalists’ sightings and recordings. This allows you and other users to comment and suggest IDs on other people’s or your own observations, creating a community driven database which will effectively improve Seek’s AI identification of sightings.
- Collins Bird Guide
Collins Bird Guide is an app that is used almost exclusively for bird identification. It is unfortunately not free however it is only a one-time payment, and you will then have it for life. It is an excellent tool for bird ID and contains range and distribution maps, access to calls, information, well drawn artwork of almost all of Europe’s birds and all of this from an incredibly trustworthy and well established source being Collins.