What are the Best Free Birdwatching Apps?

Around the globe, the hobby of birdwatching is growing. More and more of us are picking up binoculars and heading outside to spot new feathered friends. It used to be the case that a birdwatching book was an essential piece of kit for birdwatchers, and although a good field guide can be incredibly useful, when it comes to logging, identifying and sharing your experience out in the field, birdwatching apps have become an essential part of birding. 

In this article we will recommend six of the best free birdwatching apps for anyone looking to learn on the go.

Here are our top free birdwatching app recommendations:

Birda App

1. Birda, the best free birdwatching app!

Launched in 2022 and the fastest growing birdwatching app, Birda helps you identify and log the birds around you while turning the discovery and exploration of birdlife and the outdoors into a game. Birda uses gamification in the form of challenges, leaderboards and cool badges to keep motivating you to get outside and birdwatch.

Birda users are encouraged to converse and interact with each other by sharing images, exploring what other birders around them are seeing and by joining and competing in birding challenges where users often get a chance to get their hands on some really exciting prizes and in-app rewards.

At its core, Birda is a friendly community of nature lovers of all different experiences and backgrounds ready to help with species suggestions and give kudos for your bird sightings and achievements.

In addition to an ever-growing species guide which offers thousands of bird reference, and user generated photos to help identify the nuances of each species, Birda has incredible integration with location data which means that users can find top birding locations anywhere on the globe.

One of the most awesome Birda features is the community bird identification – or HI (Human Intelligence) identification.  If you have taken a picture of a bird you cannot identify, you can just log it on Birda as ‘Unidentified’ and the global community will anonymously suggest a species for you to accept. One of the major benefits of this type of identification compared to AI, is that the community will often give you tips and tricks related to identifying the bird you initially struggled with – while giving the bird id experts a chance to share their knowledge.

Among many other cool birdwatching features, like automated life lists, location hotspots and being able to set and track your own birding goals, on Birda you can connect and share your birdwatching journey with like-minded birders – both near and far.

To top it all off, by using Birda, you help conservationists and scientific researchers by sharing your bird sightings. Researchers use anonymous sighting records to better understand migration patterns and the effectiveness of conservation efforts. This helps experts put the proper measures in place to protect and safeguard birds.

Stand out features:

  • Available on Apple and Android devices
  • Free to use
  • Comprehensive photo field guide
  • Community bird identification 
  • Choose your preferred taxonomy
  • Localised species lists
  • Import sightings from other apps like eBird, Birdtrack & more
  • Discover new birding spots with an interactive locations map
  • Offline capabilities so you can use the app whenever you like
  • Social network capabilities (photo sharing, likes, comments and stats)
  • Fine-grained privacy control

Try Birda, it's FREE

2. Audubon Bird Guide

The Audubon Bird Guide is a detailed free field guide to over 800 bird species found in North America.

Users can enter as much information as they can recall about the bird that they’ve seen, from size, colour, tail shape or beak shape and Audubon will narrow down the likely results from that information alone!

Similar to Birda, users can keep track of every species they’ve ever logged. All this information can be collated into a life list or can be viewed in monthly or daily increments. Great for life-long birders. What’s more, users can view real time sightings of bird species in real time and even share their own sightings and images for others to see.

Audubon is a hugely powerful app for North American users. Offering all sorts of information about a huge species list.

Stand Out Features:

  • Free
  • Field guide
  • Bird challenges
Merlin Bird ID logo

3. Merlin Bird ID

We love this unique and intuitive app. Their bird identifying feature focuses on being able to answer just three questions about the unknown species: how big, what were the main colours and what was the bird doing. After answering these questions, the app will produce the most likely results

Not only this, Merlin also offers species ID based on bird song. The app will listen to calls using the phone’s microphone and suggest likely results. You can save these sightings to create your life-list and to revisit at a later date.

If users manage to capture a photo of their feathered friends then the app will even suggest the most likely species through computer learning. Each bird in their lists has photos and information to offer context and facts to help users expand their knowledge.

This app works best for American and Canadian users although the developers are looking to expand features to more regions very soon.

Stand Out Features:

  • ID tips, range maps, photos, and sounds to identify birds
  • Customised bird lists
  • Developed by experienced experts
  • Global app
  • Easily record sightings
eBird App logo

4. eBird

eBird is a fantastic app driving citizen science projects. The data produced from users submitting their sightings, is used to plot all kinds of incredible trends.

This app documents bird distribution, abundance, habitats and population trends over a large timeframe. What’s so great about this app is that all this data is user produced.

Hundreds of millions of sightings have lead this app to become a driving force in global data collection. It has a lot of overlap with the other apps in this list but has the benefit of being well established with a large number of users around the world. eBirders can enter where, when and what they’ve seen. 

It can be used offline and the data will then be uploaded when a connection is restored. 

This is another free app and should definitely be an addition to any birder’s phone.

Stand Out Features:

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

5. Raptor ID

No prizes for guessing what this app specialises in identifying! Raptor ID is the best companion app for differentiating the hawks from the eagles. The app offers a ranger of comparison images to identify 34 raptor species in North America. The great thing about this particular app is that it will help users identify the mystery raptors from stationary or flying. It’s fantastic to have an app which offers very specific information about a smaller species list. And, what’s more, it’s free. A perfect app for birds of prey. 

Stand Out Features:

  • Free
  • Raptor specific

6. BirdsEye Bird Finding Guide

BirdsEye is a great app for those looking to check off their life-list of birds. Offering interactive and detailed maps of real-time bird sightings, this app makes it easy to find species which are notoriously difficult to come across. 

Similar to the other apps, users can track and store the species they’ve seen throughout their time on the app.

One particularly interesting and useful feature is the ‘Rare and Notable’ sightings section which helps users locate particularly unusual birds around their area.

All these features make it possible for users to explore their local area but also plan trips further afield by exploring national sightings.

This app is highly focused at an American audience but has plans to expand its user base in the near future.

Stand Out Feature:

  • Free (also has paid versions)
  • Life lists
  • Rare and Notable sighting section

Our Top Suggestion for the Best Free Birdwatching App?

So, what is the best free birdwatching app? Birda! Birda is composed of, and was created by, nature-lovers. Birda’s app features are extensive – it has all the elements you could want in a birdwatching app. It’s a single place to identify, log sightings, and generate your birdwatching life list while connecting with other birdwatchers. You can customise lists, filter through your data, and share sightings with like-minded people, all in one place. 

This bird app connects you with a great community of birdwatchers and makes birdwatching even more fun with challenges, badges, and prizes. Also, the user experience is expertly created to be user-friendly.

You can easily switch to Birda from other apps by importing your bird sightings you’ve already logged in other places. 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 free birdwatching app. You might expect us to say that but, once you try it…. you’ll quickly see!

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

Try Birda, it's FREE