Put Down the Binoculars, This App Can Identify Birds by Song

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Whether you want to connect more deeply with nature or learn the name of the noisy bird waking you up every morning, you only need an iPhone.

A new app called Song Sleuth aims to diminish the mystery behind birds and the songs they sing. At its essence, this is “Shazam for birds.” Using your iPhone or iPad to capture whichever chirps need identification, Song Sleuth runs the audio through a set of algorithms to display the three most likely bird species culprits.

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The brains of the app were developed by Wildlife Acoustics. The Massachusetts-based tech company is firmly rooted in bioacoustics — using sound to understand nature — and the app is chock full of high-level features. Your field recordings are geotagged with date and time and made browsable on a map. An in-app spectrogram uses color to visually illustrate differences in birds’ songs. Recordings are fully shareable via all the usual means: email, social media, even AirDrop.

If Wildlife Acoustics is the brain, then world-renowned bird expert David Sibley is the heart. His work on Song Sleuth adds delightful, next-level geekery for any budding nature enthusiast. As you identify your neighborhood’s noisiest birds, you’re treated to Sibley’s avian imagery and write-ups on the species.

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Song Sleuth queries from a database of 200 different species of common North American birds in order to work its magic. It contains 1,000 professional-grade field recordings of identified birds, so you can train your ear and make your own comparisons. The app is available now as a $10 download from the App Store, and is expected to hit Google Play this fall.

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