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Song Sleuth: Auto Bird Song ID

By Wildlife Acoustics

This app is only available on the App Store for iOS devices.


Song Sleuth turns your iPhone or iPad into an automatic bird song identifier covering the 200 most common vocalizing land birds in the U.S. Developed by Wildlife Acoustics, in collaboration with world-renowned bird expert and illustrator David Sibley, the app records bird songs and suggests matching species. The identification algorithms are the result of over a decade of research and experience designing professional bioacoustics recorders and software.

Not just for beginners, the app also has features for intermediate birders who might need an identification hint or wish to study the included example recordings to take their ear birding to the next level. Advanced birders who don’t need any identification help will appreciate the ability to make and keep recordings for further study.

Song Sleuth gets you started with suggested matches, but it is not perfect. Ultimately, it’s up to you to make the final identification. The app is intended to be an interactive and fun way to learn birding by ear. The more engaged you are in the process, the more we hope you will learn. Please read the following information on the app’s capabilities and limitations. You can also scroll to the bottom of this page and tap on “Developer Website” to learn more and watch a walk-through video to get a better sense of how the app works.
-The app does not identify simple calls, chips and scolds, only bird songs and more distinct calls that are characteristic of that species.
-The app does not recognize birds that are mimicking other birds such as the Thrashers and Mockingbird.
-It is ideal to get a recording of a single bird singing. The app can be confused by noise or background birds but tools are provided to trim and filter your recordings to improve the results.
- The app performs best outdoors with live birds, and not as well with pre-recorded sounds. Also, Song Sleuth automatically selects the birds that are likely to be in your area at the present time of year, so you need to be sure the birds you are playing are selected in the SPECIES LIST.

Simply press the record button when you hear a bird singing and the app begins recording a few seconds back in time using the built-in microphone. Tap the record button again when the song is complete and Song Sleuth immediately shows you three most likely species. To assist you in determining the correct bird, you can listen to your recording and the example recordings of the likely matches as well as compare their spectrograms side-by-side.

Recordings are saved in the RECORDING LIST where you can view the recording’s spectrogram, listen to the recording (and speed it up or slow down), add a text note, or view the GPS location. You can also trim the recording or filter the frequency range to remove extraneous sounds. Recordings can be shared with other Song Sleuth users via text messaging or email.

The included David Sibley Bird Reference lets you learn more about each species. The reference includes Sibley illustrations of each bird, a description of each bird and its songs, zoomable range maps and a bar chart showing the likelihood of each bird’s presence in your area throughout the year, using Sibley’s extensive database of bird presence.

Well-known nature recordist Lang Elliot and friends spent countless hours recording in the field to provide over 1,000 world-class recording examples of the included bird species. You can listen to a all the vocalizations made by each species or compare spectrograms to your own recordings or examples from other species.

Recording locations can be viewed on a satellite or road map or transferred to a computer and viewed in Google Earth. (Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life.)

What's New in Version 1.0.6

NOTE: If you are having issues using the app or think the suggested species matches are not correct, please review the FAQ which is available from the Information Screen of the app. Also make sure you have viewed the above linked tutorial video. Both of these resources provide information on how to get the best identification results and how to use all the tools provided by the app to help you determine the correct species. Improvements to the flow of the app are forthcoming to assist you in getting better results. And a word of caution: the app selects species to use in the identification process based on your location and the time of year. If you are testing by playing recorded sounds you need to be sure the bird is selected on the Species List screen. Also, a recording might sound similar to a real bird to you, but depending on the speaker and volume it can be different enough in non-obvious ways to confuse the app and lower accuracy.

+Fixes a bug where the frequency scale would display incorrectly on the compare screen when going to next or previous recording.
+Compare mode will now remember "play all" or "play screen" selection.

Select Version History from the Information screen to view these release notes again. Please email us by selecting "Contact Us" from the Information screen of the app with any suggestions, issues or questions. Happy birding!


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Customer Reviews

I want this to work. :(

No matter how clear the recording is, the app consistently misses the ID. I have played songs from a reputable birding app on my ipad, with my iphone recording the sound (inside my home with no one around, no tv on, etc.)- and it still doesn’t come up with the correct bird as an option. I have not had a single ID be helpful.

I recorded a red-wing blackbird - They’re so distinctive and loud - but it doesn’t select that as an option. It often comes up with birds that I have never seen or heard in my backyard.

I did Carolina Wren, another loud, pure, clear song - not an option when it evaluated the recording. It’s currently not only useless in this format, it’s beyond frustrating to use. Now with the update - it won’t move on to ID at all. When I stop the recording, the app freezes.

Another thing I notice is that it lists birds as uncommon at times when they are, in fact, quite common. That part baffles me.

This could be SO useful. But for the cost it is heartbreaking. I hope they use my money to truly make it work.


Sitting on my back porch in Georgia and the app has identified Bluejays, common grackle, an osprey and our pesky squirrels!

Song Sleuth: Auto Bird Song ID
View in iTunes
This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
  • $9.99
  • Category: Reference
  • Updated:
  • Version: 1.0.6
  • Size: 399 MB
  • Language: English
  • Seller:

Compatibility: Requires iOS 10.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

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