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.A. 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

Version 2.0

We are excited to present Song Sleuth 2.0 with numerous fixes, improvements, new features, new birds, and improved classification. Please read the updated user guide and view the new walk-through video to learn more about everything that has changed.

+Dozens of bug fixes and UI tweaks and improvements.
+Dramatically improved Voiceover support for sight-impaired users.
+New setting to hear playback through the bottom speaker, or on iPhone, through the earpiece speaker to minimize disturbance to birds in the field.
+New date-picker on the species list allows you to choose any two-week period. The app will then choose birds and show likelihood for that date range so you can study birds or explore similar songs off season.
+New sorting options allow you to sort the bird species list by likelihood, species grouping or alphabetically.
+Fixes an issue where Song Sleuth would automatically connect to Bluetooth headsets and car infotainment systems.

+New bird classifiers! The following birds have been added to the app: Canyon Towhee, Juniper Titmouse, Cactus Wren, Marsh Wren, Rusty Blackbird, Swainson's Thrush, Black-throated Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Alder Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher.
+Adds four “mimicker” bird species: Brown Thrasher, California Thrasher, Curve-billed Thrasher, and Northern Mockingbird. They join the Gray Catbird already in the app. The app cannot identify mimickers because of the variability and incredible imitation skill, but having the birds in the app will allow you to explore and learn more about their songs to assist in your own identification skills.
+Improvements to the classification algorithm and the addition of about twelve thousand additional training recordings improves ID of several trouble species. More species will be improved in the coming months as we continue to add more training data.
+New features to isolate the recorded song from noise and other songs for better ID. After a recording concludes you move a resizable box around only the song of interest. If you are unsure, press the play button at the bottom to hear only the sounds inside the blue box.
+New similar songs feature allows you to study and practice tricky song identification. Next to many example recordings in Sibley Reference and on the Likely Matches screen, you will now see a button to view similar songs. This opens a page showing other example recordings that are sorted by similarity. You can play the recordings or easily enter Compare Mode for each. When you press play on a similar song, it starts playback at the similar vocalization within that recording for easy back and forth comparison. Only birds that are currently selected on the Species List will be included so you can study only the similar songs in your area or at any time of year.
+Updated the presence likelihood information.
+If you run ID on a previously made recording, the Likely Matches screen now shows the presence likelihood based on the date of recording.
+Breaks out California Scrub-Jay into the recently reclassified Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay from Western Scrub-Jay.

+Adds Audio Gain setting to adjust input volume on iPad microphones or external microphones (iPhone microphone does not allow adjustment).

+The recordings are now visible in Apple’s Files app.

You can view these release notes later by selecting Version History from the Information screen. Please email us by selecting "Contact Us" from the Information screen of the app with any suggestions, issues or questions. We are always looking for ways to improve the app for you. Happy birding!

Ratings and Reviews

3.9 out of 5

11 Ratings

11 Ratings

Helpful, but not flawless


This app is fascinating. The accuracy on identifying the birds is hit or miss, which is to be expected especially when there is background noise. Isolating the call doesn’t always work, but it does help.

The most interesting part to me about this app is seeing the spectrograms. The I’m starting to see patterns for the individual species. I’m a visual learner so this is going to help me see and hear the calls to aid in identification. Also, saving calls for my local birds is a godsend. Birds seem to have a different dialect depending on region. Now I can save recordings of my local birds to compare. Don’t know if the ability is in the app yet as I am only just exploring this, but it would be nice if my calls could be added to the information page for individual species maybe on a separate tab, so I could quickly reference my local recordings.

My only complaint is that the rarity of the birds is inaccurate. For example, in my area eastern wood peewees are considered scarce by the app, but they are quite common in the woods. Perhaps the app will get smarter as more people record bird calls. But it’s a good start. I’ve already spent hours and hours playing around with it and I absolutely love it!

Don’t remove features that work!


I like this app better without the “improvements”.
The new selection box makes me select the particular bird song I’m interested in and then makes me select one of the possible matches. If I knew which bird is singing, I wouldn’t need the app in the first place!!
We have a wooded area in our backyard which is home to lots of local bird. It’s very rarely that we can actually see the bird that is singing. And that is exactly why I need the app. Making me select the bird species that I think is singing based on short-listed suggestions defeats the purpose.
I don’t see a way to turn off the selection box.
I’m okay with the app making close guesses as to which bird species it might be based on my location like it did before but now it seems useless to me.

Developer Response

I am sorry that you are not satisfied. No features have been removed, but we did add the ability to better isolate the song of interest. This greatly improves ID because the app will not be confused with other songs or extraneous noises. The app then shows three matches as it always did. The intention is that you play back your recording and the example recordings and make the final determination. If the correct bird is not obvious, you can use Compare Mode to compare spectrograms, which can sometimes be more obvious with fast warbling songs. We are trying to provide all the tools necessary to help you home in on the correct bird, and being involved in the final determination, you are likely to learn the songs in the process. If the app just showed you some possible birds with no other tools, you would have no way to verify the ID.

Slight learning curve, but great fun.


Once you get used to the app and remember to point the microphone towards the bird it works well. Great for use on hikes and camp outs. A hit with the kids.


Wildlife Acoustics Inc.
382.7 MB
Requires iOS 10.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Age Rating
Rated 4+
© 2017-2018 Wildlife Acoustics, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Patents Pending.


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    With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app.

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