Friday, September 6, 2013

App Review: iKnowBirdSongs

The iKnowBirdSongs app is designed to help birders more quickly learn bird songs and calls. The audio is entirely from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library, so it's of the best quality and accuracy available. The app is designed to work as digital flash cards and is in my opinion, an effective way to learn bird songs. There is a species profile complete with a photo and range map along with the common vocalizations of the species in addition to the audio.

While the app comes pre-loaded with some "decks" of cards (i.e. groupings of birds), you can also create your own so that you can focus on species that you are actively working to learn. For instance, if spring migration is coming up and you need a quick refresher on warbler songs, you could create a deck of warblers and focus in on just those species. Once you have learned one, you can click one button to say that you have mastered the song, and it will be removed from the deck while you practice with the rest!

Both the "Practice" and "Game" modes will help you learn the songs, but I feel that the Game mode is much more fun. It starts by just playing the song and giving you four options to select the correct answer from. If you are struggling to get it, you can click for a hint which will bring up a photo of the bird. The more you play the game, the more bird songs you will learn and remember!

Overall, I would recommend this app for those that find themselves struggling to remember bird songs in the field. The app is currently only available in Apple's App Store for $9.99, and there is no Android version. Your purchase will also help the Cornell Lab of Ornithology because 15% of each purchase is donated back to them!

One change that I would like to see is a specific addition to the Tutorial or the FAQ pages. It would be great if the app developers would ask that people not use the songs in the field to attract birds, as it can be detrimental especially during the breeding season. received a sample version of this app in order to provide this review.

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