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Must have apps for your new Android or iOS device

Drew Weber|

Peregrine Falcon - adult (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

No doubt you or someone you know just got an iPad, iPhone or an Android device for Christmas and you are now looking for the best birding apps to load onto it.

The Sibley eGuide to the Birds of North America

The Sibley eGuide to Birds of North America ( iOS | Android ) The Sibley Guide is my favorite field guide for US and Canada and the app does not disappoint. The interface is a bit dated, but overall is simple to navigate. If you like the printed version, you will really love having access to it in the field on your new device. A cool feature of the app is the ability to compare any two species on the screen at once. Pretty much any field guide now has a decent collection of bird songs.

Similar great field guide apps: Peterson Guide ( iOS ) and National Geographic ( iOS ) both have slick interfaces on the iPhone. The Peterson Guide app draws info from a variety of Peterson Reference Guides which means there is extensive info from molt to nests.

BirdsEye NA ( iOS only)

BirdsEye is the only app that will actually guide you to birds, using eBird sightings to map actual bird locations as well as displaying bird lists for any location you might want to explore.  It is particularly powerful if you have entered your life lists into eBird, and will tell you what birds are nearby that you could look for to add a species to one of your lists. There are also versions of BirdsEye for Eastern and Western North America, if you are looking for a less expensive app, or versions for any continent if you are planning on traveling. Download BirdsEye Asia | Africa | South America | Mexico and Central America | Australia | UK, Europe and Western Palearctic

GroupMe ( iOS | Android )

This is the easiest app to quickly set up a texting group with your friends and nearby birders. It is used in many areas as an RBA. Chances are, if you inquire in your area, there will already be one set up and other birders can add you. If there isn’t one set up, this is your chance to set it up yourself and promote some good clean rarity chasing. It also works for anyone with a Windows Phone, Blackberry, or even a ‘dumb-phone’ so everyone can participate.

Google Maps ( iOS | comes with Android )

Google Maps is sort of the king of mapping these days, and already comes with Android. You can also download this app for iPhone if you want an alternative to Apple Maps, although I haven’t had the issues that other people have reported with the Apple Maps. It is always handy to have another app to display maps in case you are in an isolated area. Mapping programs differ in their coverage and having several to check will limit the possibility of being stranded. Let’s face it, birders venture off into isolated areas without a thought, so having backup is a safety issue.

Windfinder ( iOS )

Wind direction is key if you are trying to decide which day of work to skip (kidding…I think) to head to the hawk watch or coast. The difference between an east wind and a north wind might be the difference between no birds and an amazing flight, so it is crucial to have easy to access wind info on hand.

RadarScope ( iOS | Android )

RadarScope is my favorite app for checking radar during migration. It gives access to a lot of different radar products which allow you to check the birding weather as well as migration conditions and you can watch migration happening in realtime.

There are a ton of other apps that birders use, not necessarily bird related? What do you recommend for folks with a new device?

About the Author

Drew Weber

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Drew is the founder and editor of Nemesis Bird and now works to curate some of the best content the web has to offer on birding and ornithology from an energetic crew of ornithologists, field researchers, tour leaders and photographers. Drew is originally from PA but now lives in central New York where he is enjoying the long and snowy winters. He has done various bird jobs including bird surveys for the 2nd PA Breeding Bird Atlas, tracked saw-whet owls from dusk to dawn with Scott Weidensaul and counted hawks for several years for Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. His master's research at Penn State University focused on grassland birds and their relationships with different agricultural practices. Drew is an avid lister, especially on smaller scales, and enjoys adding new birds to county, state and life lists. A sucker for competitions, he has placed 2nd in the World Series of Birding (with Nemesis Birders Andy McGann and Mike Lanzone) and is the part of the winning team for the Onondaga Audubon Bird-a-thon in Central NY and the Shaver's Creek Birding Cup (2 years running with Nemesis Birder Alex Lamoreaux). He also enjoys digiscoping and making apps for birders. He is project manager for the North American Rare Bird Alert and coordinates the development of BirdsEye and BirdsEye Hotspots. Some topics that really interest him are migration, bird distributions and vagrancy.

  • Rick Hollis

    I regularly use BirdLog and Map My Dogwalk. The latter is an easy way to get a map of where you have walked and to send same to people. Really nice if you want to let someone know of a particular location.