The Best Birdwatching Tools in Canada, Apps & Field Guides

Identifying birds and birdwatching go hand in hand, and without the best birdwatching tool, you might be stuck trying to identify Canada’s incredible bird life. In this handy guide, we’ll uncover birdwatching apps, guides and the best all-in-one birding tools in Canada, like the Birda app.

The Best Birdwatching Tools in Canada, Apps & Field Guides - Grey Jay perched on a branch

Best 'all-in-one' Tool for Birdwatching

You might find when you go birding that you want more than just a field guide or an app. Perhaps you’re a photographer with enough gear to carry already! Luckily for you, there are apps which offer an extensive field guide, offline features, ways to discover the birds near your location and feeling part of something bigger.

Birda App

Birda is one of the best birdwatching tools out there. Not only is Birda free to download, it has so many helpful features to really enhance your birdwatching. Birda takes you through the three core factors of birdwatching; planning, recording and reflecting.

Planning

Planning your birdwatching has never been easier, and Birda helps you plan your birdwatching with some great features; Challenges and Locations.

  • Birda’s Challenges are a fantastic way to encourage you to go birding and create some healthy birdy habits whilst doing it! Challenges on Birda help peak your interest in conservation projects and you might have chance to win some great prizes provided by birdwatching brands.
  • You can discover new places to go birding using Birda’s Location Feature, with a unique bird list at each spot. Find out what birds are ‘New for You’ and discover which time of year is best to see them. A really handy feature to find locations you haven’t been yet.

Recording

Recording your birdwatching sessions and sightings enables you to log everything you see. Birda’s Species Guide is deeply intergrated to Birda and identifying what you’ve seen is so seamless. Stay on the same app to identify your birds!

You can also ask for help from the Birda Community; simply log your bird as ‘Unidentified’, add a photo and a description, then sit back and relax whilst birders like you anonymously suggest species for you to choose from.

Birda uses Human Intelligence (HI) over Artificial Intelligence (AI) as humans can give helpful tips and feedback as to why they have suggested a species for you. This also really helps commit birding knowledge to memory, expanding your birding even further! 

Reflecting

After your fun day birding in Canada’s wilderness, you can review your Birda Lists, add photos, join in with the community on Birda, check your Birda badges, see challenge leaderboards and set your own birdwatching goals for next time.

Whilst bringing the fun back to birdwatching, Birda is also helping conservation by sharing anonymous sighting information with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, further helping scientists discover more about our feathered friends.

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Field Guide for Birds in Canada

A field guide can be a really useful tool to have in your rucksack when out birding. Each one may have its strengths and weaknesses; some may specialize on a particular species while others may focus on a region. So it’s always a good idea to do some research or borrow one from a library or friend before purchasing one yourself.

Birds of Canada Field Guide

You can’t go wrong with the Birds of Canada Field Guide: this publication covers over 500 species which are known to visit and/or breed in Canada. Each species has plenty of information and background on each species and provides a really comprehensive overview of Canada’s birdlife.

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of North America: Second Edition

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of North America: Second Edition is also a handy app for birding but its real strength is the volume of species recorded – over 650! Each entry also features stunning illustrations with descriptions pointing out key identifiable features. 

This guide also contains incredibly accurate maps of migration, breeding, and distribution. This second edition also has updated information on behavior and habitat preferences amongst much more. The only difficulty with this is this may show you species that aren’t found in Canada but looking at the distribution will help work out what is a more likely bird.

Sibley Field Guide is also in App form too! Head here for a Comprehensive Review of Sibley Birds 2nd Edition App.

The National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America 7th Edition

The National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America 7th Edition is one of the biggest selling birding field guides in print; with over 2.75 million copies already in use. It has a mind-boggling 1,023 species from the United States and Canada. For many, this list will be too expansive and perhaps unnecessary but if you’re likely to take your birding on regional travels, then this might be the guide for you. It sports impressive maps, illustrations and information about every entry.

A Male King Eider swimming in water in Canada.

Apps for Birds in Canada

Nowadays, birding is made substantially easier by apps which can offer far more than conventional field guides and books. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses and each will focus on different aspects of birding. Some are purely ID apps, others are a social flock aimed at connecting people with a shared interest in birdwatching. What’s important is that you find the one which works best for you.

Birda App

As we’ve mentioned, Birda brings together the hobby of birdwatching with the community feel of social media. Not only can you track and record your birding finds through the app but you can also connect with other birders all around the world and share images and help each other with their ID. Birda also runs monthly challenges so you could get your hands on some pretty exciting gear for your next outing.

Birda’s various features will certainly help you with birding in Canada; with badges to unlock, challenges to participate in and an in-built species guide with loads of fun facts, Birda puts the fun back into birdwatching. Check out more about the free Birda app here.

eBird App

eBird is one of the longest running bird apps. Predominantly, this app is used as a means of recording and monitoring species around the world. It’s a free app and has full offline functionality – meaning that it doesn’t matter how remote you go birding. 

You can record, store and export your findings and in ding so, you also contribute vital data to global bird recordings. eBird doesn’t have the same community aspect as Birda, though eBird is a valuable space for scientific recordings. Find out more in this Comprehensive Review of the eBird App and its features.

Merlin Bird ID App

Merlin is an awesome app for IDing birds. It’s actually connected to eBird meaning that it has thousands of species to draw information from. It does this through a mixture of sound identification, photo recognition and user inputted information. 

Just like eBird you’ll be able to track and record your sightings through the app. Whilst Merlin is great for identifying birds using Artificial Intelligence, Birda uses Human Intelligence instead, with helpful members of the community sharing friendly tips and tricks. Look here for a further Review of the Merlin App.

Audubon App

Audubon is a free app for over 800 species in North America. Users can narrow down what they’ve seen through simple questions like “what colour was it?”, “how big was it?”, “what did its tail look like?”. All this makes the process fun and engaging for veterans and novices alike. 

You can learn all about the birds you’ve spotted with detailed information and sound recordings and now you can even share photos of what you’ve seen onto the Photo Feed! Whilst Audubon is great for North America, for other places, Birda might be a better option. Check out this Review of the Audubon App.

How to find birds in Canada?

Despite the fact that birds are literally found all over the planet, and whilst Canada has over 500 bird species, they can be notoriously difficult to spot. You might ask, what’s the best way to spot birds? It’s best to watch for movement while scanning an area rather than focusing too much in one spot. 

Keep an ear out too for chirrups and chirps to help direct your attention. If you’ve got a pair of binoculars then you’ll give yourself the best chance at finding your feathered friends quickly and with ease. Unsure of which binoculars are perfect for you? Find out which of the Best Lightweight Binoculars for Birdwatching might be for you.

One of the tools we’ll delve into is the Birda app, which has some incredible features to find the bird species near you. Keep reading for more information about where to find birds in Canada.

Identify Birds in Canada

Once you’ve followed the noise and movement, it’s time to work out what you’ve found. Once again, binoculars can help give a clearer picture as to what you’re looking at. Identifying birds can get complicated as there’s often very little difference between species and so it’s important to get a good look.

Many birders also photograph their subjects so as to give a longer lasting view of all the details. It’s best to use a field guide or a birding app to narrow down your search as it can be overwhelming to start with. If you’re after more tips and tricks for identifying birds, you might find learning How to Identify Birds helpful.

Flock Together

Birding is better together, the thrill of exploring the great outdoors in search of new species is made all the more enjoyable when you’re connected with friends. Wherever you’re based in Canada, there will be a birding club for you. If you’re into sharing your finds though, don’t forget to use apps like Birda to bring the community together. You might want to explore a new birding location too so here’s a quick list of the best birding spots in Canada:

  • Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve
  • Newfoundland
  • Elliston Puffin Viewing Site
  • Brier Island
  • Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • PEI National Park
  • Grand Manan Island
  • Miscou Island
  • Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area
  • Algonquin Park
  • Oak Hammock Marsh
  • Chaplin Lake
  • Beaverhill Lake
  • George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Kluane National Park and Reserve
  • Dewey Soper (Isulijarnik) Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Elliston Puffin Viewing Platform - The Best Birdwatching Tools in Canada, Apps & Field Guide

You’ll find that many of these sites will have regular recordings from other birders and you can help understand species distribution by submitting your own findings!

You can find all of these spots on the Birda app’s Locations feature. Hop over to the Discovery Page and find Locations. From here, you’ll discover new birding locations and the species you might find there! Find out more about Birda’s Locations feature here.

Conclusion

So however you choose to go birding; whether it’s with a field guide, or an app, with friends or on your own, you hopefully have a good understanding of where to start and what to look for. The birding community is one of the friendliest around, so often the best place to begin is by meeting others and discussing your hobby with them. Whichever app or guide you choose, the Birda app is a great place to be. Join the community today and we wish you a very happy birding journey!

Connect to nature and like-minded people while you discover and explore the birdlife around you! Amplify your birdwatching experience with Birda today. 

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