What I would really like is a magical app that I could point at a singing bird in the field, so my iPhone would listen to the sound and identify the bird for me – or at least provide a short-list of possible species. I thought that the technology behind Shazam (which can identify songs from a hum) might have been harnessed for just this. Unfortunately the Shazam technology doesn’t cope well with background noise, and a bunch of other limitations mean it’s unlikely that this imaginary app will exist for a while yet.
However, I did find and download the Chirp! app instead, and I like it a lot! Chirp Europe contains the songs of common birds in North-West Europe. With a nice, sharp interface and lots of easy-to-use features including maps of bird distribution, photos, wiki links – as well as decent length clips of the songs of each bird – it’s a delightful little app for any bird lover.
The app checks your location when it loads, so that it can display the most relevant birds, and you can not only search for specific birds by name, you can also sort by how common the bird is in your area and, importantly, by type of song. So, while the app won’t listen to a bird for you and identify it, it will give you a sporting chance of identifying a singing bird in the field.
The most fun part of the app for me turned out to be the quiz function. It’s very entertaining to play with a friend, and definitely hones your skill at identifying the chirps, tweets and whistles of birds in your locality.
Version 3.0.8 released 14th September 2010, developed by iSpiny, £ 1.79