7 of the Best Birdwatching Apps in the UK

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Identifying and recording what you have seen are two aspects of birdwatching that have seen huge improvements with the advent of smartphones. If you are still using a notepad to record your bird sightings, there is no better time than now to pack the notebook away and download a birdwatching identification and listing app.

 

The same can be said for birdwatching field guides books. While books are still handy, you will invariably find yourself in a position where you want to identify a bird but don’t have your bird book on you. Having a field guide on your smartphone means you are almost always in a position to identify what you have seen! 

Helpful Reminders When Shopping for Birdwatching Apps

Before you review each birdwatching app, take some time to think about what you need the app to achieve for you. What will your primary use of the app be? For example, do you want to identify what you have seen, log sightings or manage your birdwatching life list? Or, perhaps you need help finding birding locations and local birds?

You may also want to use the birding app for:

  • Bird photo recognition using AI
  • Bird call recognition using AI
  • Getting help from experienced birdwatchers
  • Finding your nearby birdwatching community and making friends with people who share your interests
  • Getting rare bird alerts

 

You’ll also need to check that the app is available on your device, whether you use Apple or Android. If you plan to use the app across multiple continents, make sure it caters to more than just one country or continent. Lastly, be sure to know what taxonomy you want to use ahead of time. Some apps like eBird and Merlin Bird ID do not allow you to choose your taxonomy, meaning that you will almost certainly encounter species that are missing from their species lists.

Our Top Recommendations: The Best Birdwatching App UK

There are a variety of birdwatching app options to choose from. How can you know which is the best birdwatching app? Here are our top choices based on features, user experience, and availability. 

Birda App

1. Birda

Launched in 2022 and the fastest growing birdwatching app, Birda is a free bird watching app for identifying and logging the birdlife around you with additional fun features like badges, gamified challenges, healthy metrics and automated life lists – think ‘Strava for birdwatching’. At its core is a friendly community of nature lovers of all different experiences and backgrounds ready to help with species suggestions and give kudos for your achievements.

Birda is designed around three prominent use cases, planning, recording and reflection:

  • Planning is centred around two main features, challenges and locations. Challenges are designed to encourage the healthy habit of getting people out into nature more frequently. The locations feature (coming soon) is designed to help birdwatchers find exciting new places to go birdwatching.
  • Recording is based on the ‘active’ part of birdwatching; identification and recording what you have seen – this can be done incidentally or as part of a session where you log everything you see on a walk, in a hide or just around your garden. By integrating a field guide with logging, Birda dramatically streamlines the process.
  • Reflection is all about the community, seeing where other users have gone birding, what they’ve seen and who’s liked your posts (but only if you want to). You can also check out your life lists, leaderboards, badges, and more.

By using Birda, you also help conservationists, scientific researchers, and environmental protection organisations by sharing your sighting records. Researchers use anonymous sighting records to better understand species distributions and changes in distributions over time. This helps these experts put the proper measures in place to protect and safeguard birds.

Stand Out Features:

  • Available on Apple and Android devices
  • Free to use
  • Choose your preferred taxonomy
  • Localised species lists
  • Import sightings from other apps
  • Automatically generated life lists. E.g. home list & patch list
  • Track healthy living metrics, like walks and time in nature
  • Offline capabilities to use whenever you want to disconnect or are outside of your mobile service range
  • Fine-grained privacy controls, including hiding sightings from your home address 
iBird Pro App

2. iBird Pro

iBird Pro is an excellent tool for searching and identifying birds. It allows you to search for birds based on their size, colour, and location. It also includes the Birds Around Me (BAM) feature, which shows species found near your GPS location. Meanwhile, its Percevia smart search helps you identify birds in front of you.

Stand Out Features:

  • Available on Apple and Android devices
  • Free with in-app purchases
  • Large library of bird calls
  • Illustrations and photos to help you identify birds
Merlin Bird ID

3. Merlin Bird ID

This birdwatching app was created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – true experts in the study of birds. This app is best for identifying birds that you’re not sure of. It uses AI to guide you, either by leading you through five simple questions or by uploading a photo. It also identifies birds by their calls – allow the app to listen in to your bird calls with Sound ID, and it can tell you which bird you’re encountering.

 

The app includes the option to create a birdwatching life list with its Save My Bird feature. While this element does allow you to keep track of birds you’ve seen, there’s little ability to filter and create sub-lists. Therefore, Merlin Bird ID is best suited for identifying birds and is not a good tool for recording sightings and maintaining life lists.

 

Merlin Bird ID utilises Clements taxonomy, which is best suited for North American and Canadian users. If you use Merlin Bird ID elsewhere in the world, you will almost certainly encounter missing species due to the species not being recognised by Clements taxonomy. For example, you will not find Eurasian Teal (aka Teal) in the UK as it is not recognised by Clements taxonomy!

 

Stand Out Features:

  • Available on Apple and Android devices
  • Free to use
  • Bird identification app by sound and image
eBird App

4. eBird

eBird is a bird app that allows you to track and organise data in various ways. Whether you want to review your birdwatching life list or see which birds you’ve seen in your favourite park, you can filter and sort your birdwatching data in just about any way.

You can share your sightings and use other people’s data to find more birds. That means you can also compare your birdwatching life list stats with others and get a little friendly competition going. Perhaps most excitingly, this birding app allows you to find local birding hotspots, which is a valuable tool for travelling.

As with Merlin Bird ID, eBird uses Clements taxonomy, which is best suited for North America and Canada.

Stand Out Features:

  • Available on Apple and Android devices
  • Free to use
  • Switch from app to website seamlessly
iNaturalist App

5. iNaturalist

iNaturalist is slightly different from the other birdwatching app options discussed here as it supports recording many types of wildlife. If you enjoy tracking mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and plants, iNaturalist could be a good option. If you’re only interested in birds, Birda is a better choice for tracking and finding species as it’s specialised just for birdwatching.

 

iNaturalist allows you to track just about any species that you’ve observed. It also helps you identify various plants and animals through AI. Upload a photo, whether you snap it when you see it or upload an image from your library, and iNaturalist gets to work identifying. If for some reason, the app can’t determine the species of the plant or animal, a member of the iNaturalist community can help you identify it.

 

As with Merlin Bird ID and eBird, iNaturalist uses Clements taxonomy, which is best suited for North America and Canada.

 

Stand Out Features:

  • Available on Apple and Android devices
  • Free to use
  • Community guidance with identifying species
  • Become a citizen scientist on nature projects that interest you
Birds of Britain Pro App

6. Birds of Britain Pro

Since Birds of Britain Pro is specialised for British birdwatchers, it offers a good experience for people in this region. It includes over 300 British birds and 350 vagrant species that have visited or may visit Britain. It consists of a birdwatching life list that syncs to your iCloud, so you never have to worry about losing your data. Birds of Britain Pro is not a free app and will cost £11.99 to download in the UK.

 

This bird app is written and designed by experts. Its bird songs and calls are professionally produced by Geoff Sample. The descriptions of rarity status, appearance, diet, habitat, distribution, lifespan, and nesting habits are written by Dr Hilary Wilson, a biologist. While you can peruse the app’s carefully selected photos of plumages, you can also add your own and customise your experience.

 

Stand Out Features:

  • Available on Apple and Android devices
  • Only covers Britain
  • The “Here and Now” feature allows you to see birds that are nearby during that time of year in the specific part of Britain you’re in
  • Shortlist your favourite birds
Collins British Bird Guide App

7. Collins British Bird Guide

Based on the award-winning book of the same name, the Collins British Bird Guide is a paid app (costs £12.99) that allows you to review 262 British and Irish bird species in an easy-to-use app. You can search common species by plumage traits, name, or season. You might choose to read the text by Lars Svensson or look through impressive illustrations by Dan Zetterström and Killian Mullarney. You can also review updated maps from the Bird Atlas of 2007 – 2011. This birdwatching app gives you access to tons of sound recordings.

 

Collins British Bird Guide is best suited for the identification of birds but weak when it comes to recording what you have seen and generating life lists. There are also no backups of your records, so delete the app and you’ll lose everything. Being a British focus app, it used IOC taxonomy, so there will be unrecognised/missing species for people using Clements taxonomy.

 

Stand Out Features:

  • Available on Apple and Android devices
  • Caters to Britain
  • Expertly written and produced

Our Top Suggestion for the Best Birdwatching App UK

So, which is the best birdwatching app in the UK? Birda, of course! Birda was created by nature-lovers for nature-lovers. Birda’s app features are extensive – it has all the elements you could desire in a birdwatching app. It’s a single place to identify, log sightings, and generate your birdwatching life list. Customise lists, filter through your data, and share with like-minded people, all in one place. And what’s more, they only launched at the beginning of 2022, so they still have loads more great features to come.

 

This bird app connects you with a great community of birdwatchers and makes birdwatching even more fun with challenges, badges, and prizes. Plus, the user experience is expertly created for easy use. You can easily switch to Birda from other apps by importing bird sightings you’ve already logged elsewhere. Whether you want to disconnect from the rat race and use Birda offline or connect with others, Birda is the clear choice for the best birdwatching app in the UK.

 

Ready to start your birdwatching journey with Birda? Download it now, for free, on the App Store or Google Play, and be sure to check out our guide on how to start birdwatching!

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