Robin bird on a branch.
Jukka Jantunen/

Listening to bird calls is a great, relaxing way to enjoy nature. If your curiosity gets the best of you, hearing the calls may not be enough. We’ll show you how to identify the birds making those sweet sounds.

There’s a good chance you take your phone with you when you’re out for a nature walk. Did you know it can be a surprisingly accurate bird identification tool? There are a few handy apps that can turn you into a bird call expert.

RELATED: How to Use Tech to Stay Safe in the Sun

Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is one of the top resources for information about birds. The Merlin Bird ID app puts all of that great information at your fingertips. It’s available for Android and iPhone.

When you open the app, you have a few options. “Start Bird ID” and “Photo ID” are for identifying birds based on their appearance. The one we want to use is “Sound ID.”

Tap "Sound ID."

A menu will appear with a few options. To immediately start listening for bird calls around you, tap the big microphone button.

Tap the microphone button.

The app will immediately start listening and populate the identified birds on the screen. The bird that is currently singing is highlighted in yellow.

Identified birds.

Tap the red stop button when you’re done. You’ll get a list of all the birds identified, and you can select any of them to read more information. You’ll be asked to download a “Bird Pack” for your area before you can.

Select a bird to learn more.

That’s really all there is to it. You can simply let the app listen to your surroundings and watch the identified birds pop up on the screen. The Merlin Bird ID app is chock full of great information if you’re curious about birds. It’s a great hiking companion.

RELATED: How to Get Started Hiking

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
Read Full Bio »