Song Sleuth: Auto Bird Song ID App Reviews

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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.

Not enough bird choices

App is very effective at picking up sounds and distinguishing birds from ambient noise but I’d give it 5 stars if it had many more bird song identities.

Awesome, but needs more bird songs!

The app is wonderful, five stars for the quick playbacks of bird songs and calls... it has greatly helped me with my bird song identification skills, but for regular/experienced birders it would be nice if the Cornell Lab could incorporate some of the very significant species that they have left out. I understand that this is a fledgling app, however I would really hope that in the future they expand their species lists because there are so many other species out there to be included and for 14.99 I would hope they continue to expand their species lists for each state. For example, many sparrow species have been omitted - I believe this to be particularly concerning because sparrows are rather hard to identify by sight to begin with and remain relatively inconspicuous. Song reliance means everything with sparrows! Also various woodpeckers and hawks are left out. Ducks, swans, shorebirds, gulls, terns, herons and other coastal birds are left out all together.

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.


I was really disappointed with this app. Save your money and do not buy it. It does not correctly ID birds but also the microphone tends to turn on out of no where. I wish there were refunds.

Fun to play with but

It records sounds, and gives you a possible list. But the results are all over the map. Example, goose, human, etc.. I am a beginner. Wish I could have tried before I bought. Would not have purchased.


I had an Eastern Phoebe right in front of me and it did not pick it up. I am surrounded by various sparrows, woodpeckers, robins, no one talking and it said barred owl, boreal owl, and human. No humans around me.

Song Sleuth

Does not work. 99% of what it labels is as a red tailed hawk. Wrong!! I’d like a fix or my money back.

Never gotten a bird right

I bought this app and decided to test it outside my apartment where I could see a Stellar's Jay quite clearly. It told me it was a Canada goose. Same thing for the house sparrow and Western Scrub jays that often come by.

Works great, looks beautiful!

Recognizes all the birds around me, and the Sibley pictures are gorgeous. I love this - so much fun when I’m out!

I want this to work. :(

No matter how clear the (trimmed) recording is, the app consistently misses the ID. I recorded a red-wing blackbird: They’re so distinctive and loud. But the app doesn’t provide RWBL as an option. It often comes up with birds that I have never seen or heard anywhere near my backyard. I did Carolina Wren, another loud, pure, clear song - not an option when it evaluated the recording. It’s frustrating to use. I notice that it lists birds as uncommon at times when they are, in fact, quite common. That part baffles me. (Birds I can hear all. day. long. Like red-winged blackbirds in the wetland that is my backyard.) This could be SO useful. But for the cost, it is disappointing... however, I’ve already invested in it, so I will continue to check it out to see if performance has improved. **I’ll update my review if it does improve IDs.** In the meantime, I will keep training my ears with birdsong ID discs on my commutes.

Should be recalled

This app truly should be recalled and people’s money be refunded. I have had it for many months and the updates have not improved the horrible field performance. I have read all the instructions and watched videos but nothing helps. It has maybe 10-15% accuracy. Even common birds singing typical songs right next to you will come up with bizarre choices that sound nothing like the real bird. It gets wrong Black-capped Chickadee, European Starling, Dark-eyed Junco, American Tree Sparrow, Common Grackle and the list goes on. Even when you do all the proper editing of the recorded sound and have the right state chosen it still fails most of the time with none of the choices being correct. How can a chickadee be mistaken for an Osprey? This is a great concept but poor execution. The app should be removed until it is able to have at least 85% field accuracy.


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

Needs work

Found it very inaccurate in identifying songs. Took five tries recording a Song Sparrow that I could see before it came up as a potential choice. On the upside it is easy to use, just not accurate. Hopefully newer versions will improve performance.

No it's not a frog

I used this app and it never even close to identifying the bird song. As a matter of fact three different times it's first choice for the bird was a Spring Peeper, which is a frog. They should not be selling this app until they get it fixed.


It thinks Zebra when pony is the answer. Is that needs work. I was looking at a extremely noisy cardinal. The app suggested chickadee.

Has potential but not worth the price.

First off, if this was a prototype app I'd say it had real promise. As it is now it feels unfinished, inaccurate, and not worth ten bucks. Why do I say that? I purchased this ap for my iPad Air yesterday and took it in the field twice. First off it has trouble IDing bird calls. In general if the bird is not within ten feet or less of your location the app cannot detect it. Then it's identification ability depends on the species. Also the bird must do its full song to be identified. Chirps and partial songs do not work. What species does it id well? Robins and Prairie Warblers. What species does it often have trouble IDing? Eastern Towhee, Common Yellowthroat. What species can't it ID at all? Chipping Sparrow, Catbird, Chestnut Sided Warbler. What species can it not hear at all? Eastern Bluebird. The ap is also bad at filtering out background noise and distinguishing calls when two or more birds call at once. Footsteps, crickets, traffic, strong wind, and barking dogs can all ruin its ability to identify. Also if you are trying to ID one bird singing and another starts singing mid song it cannot ID it. Such as when a Phoebe starts calling while a Robin sings. The ap has an odd habit of suggesting vireos for Warblers. If it cannot hear anything it either tells you that or suggests three of the following: human, a corvid, an owl, or a dove or pigeon. Also, if you have a cover on your tablet it cannot hear sounds correctly. This ap does have potential if it gets a lot of work, but at the moment it is a waste of money.

App is good at recording bird songs

I am primarily interested in the app for recording bird songs, uploading the recordings to iCloud, and including recordings with my eBird observations. The app does a great job at that using an iPhone SE. I like how the app allows for "prerecording" by continuous monitoring. I like the ability of the app to clip portions of a recording. I also like that it allows me to identify the bird in the recording and store the recordings with proper identification. The ability of the app to id birds works marginally well.

Horribly inaccurate

What the heck? Couldn't be less inaccurate than sticking a bookmark in a random location in a bird guide. Comes up with human , squirrel and some bird not even close to my sample again and again.

Horribly inaccurate on identification

I've taken the Cornell Ornithology Lab Bird Song Identification class and plus, I have EYES. When I'm looking directly at a Cardinal and the app tells me the song is a Vireo, it's a bad app. Might be a decent resource for listening to pre-recorded bird song matched visually to the bird before being listed, but as more files erroneously link to wrong bird, the app will fail.

Needs work, but encouraging

I realize creating an app like this must be challenging and thanks to the developer for taking it on. I have used the app quite a bit this spring 2017. As others state, it does mis-ID birds even based on reasonably good recordings. You would think, given the distinctive spectrograms of species, it could be more accurate. Also, good birders will frequently positively ID birds the app describes as rare, or not listed in the region species list, possibly contributing to app inaccuracy. On some occasions it has been accurate in helping me ID a bird, and that was rewarding and a good learning experience. I didnt expect perfection from this cutting edge technology. Keep working on it and improving it, developer!

Worthless - laughing on the way to bank

I can record the same song, standing in the same place, immediately and get a completely different result. The only thing I can do is to record and hopefully ID later listening to it. Really bad app for beginners and, I suppose, anyone else hoping for an ID.

Disappointed too expensive for what you get

This app needs some work. I've read about how to crop and how to filter etc. for better accuracy. I'm just not having much success. I'm a birder and unless I see and identify the bird by sight I do not trust what this app says and the whole purpose is to help with the ones I may not know or may not see. It comes up with crazy off the wall selections for the most common of birds. I will keep hoping for updates that make this this work.

Song Sleuth

Superb app. All the bases covered and a breeze to use.

Needs A LOT of work

The idea of this app is great, but it is totally inaccurate and completely useless in the field.

Unfortunately a Huge Fail

I don't want to write a poor review but unfortunately this app is a real failure. I'm an advanced birder but still need help with spring migrants, thought this app would help but first tried it on easy birds. I sat right under a tufted titmouse and it gave 3 wrong birds that weren't even in the area, tried again with a pine warbler and then a fish crow- all solidly recorded with no other noises and the app came up with poor choices each time. I know a lot of hard work went into this app so I'm hoping they can address the issues since I can't get a refund, until then, save your money.

Useless for advanced birders

I know a lot of common bird songs. When I don't know a vocalization I make a recording. I tried song sleuth with 40 bird recordings for which I wasn't familiar. I know the exact location and date and know what is isn't. Song sleuth got 39 of the 40 laughably wrong. None of the three choices were even possible. Red-eyed vireo it got right once. Completely Avoid this app to try to identify any slightly unusual birdsong. I put in the region and sliced the country recording to ensure only one bird was being shared with song sleuth to no avail. Wait for something better.

Good effort- needs work

I truly hope this application improves. It's a great idea. But right now it's not very accurate. I do like the interface I think it's well-designed. But when I use it with birds but I already know the identity of it does not deliver. But keep at it. A great idea.

Please fix volume

It was very hard to hear the intro audio tutorial , and it is hard to hear the audio recordings made with the app. The list of birds in your region is a great feature. It allows you to hear birds quickly and identify them to compare to real time bird sounds. I think the rest of the app could be nice, but I can't find a way to up the volume for this app. (With phone volume all the way up and phone audio as well.)

Awesome App

This is a serious but fun new way to study and ID birds. It has many well thought out capabilities that require some study, thought and experience to use effectively. But that's part of the fun! I recommend this app without reservation.

It simply works.

It's with the Jackson

Not ready...

I had great hopes for this app, but it can't identify any songs yet. I'll record a bird in front of me, and it tells me the song is a squirrel or an osprey. Not even close. Wish I hadn't wasted $9.99


I can't believe how well this works. Also an amazing library of sounds and illustrations. I can't recommend it highly enough!


Sorry to say this but not impressed. Standing next to birds I know to practice and they are always wrong. Wish I hadn't spent the 10.00 till I could have tried it. Just takes up space on my i-pad.

Not ready for prime time yet

2 problems: 1) missing lots of birds in our region (Pacific Northwest), and 2) haven't found a bird yet that it could i.d. correctly. American crow (come on, how hard can that be?) - nope. Great idea for an app, and lots of amusing misidentifications, but save your 10 bucks. There are cheaper ways to get a chuckle.

Beautiful But Terrible

A great idea with a pretty user interface, but with confusing settings and absolutely no functionality. Even with great recordings, the app does not work for the most common of birds in my area. It is useless, and I want my money back...

Excellent if you understand limitations

It's an awesome app if you're a beginning birder or have never done much birding by ear. One of the limitations is that it only has ~200 species, but when encompassing the entire US, it's a pretty small pool. That said this is version one, so I expect more species will be added in time. One also needs to understand that you can't have a big long recording and expect the app to pick out the bird amongst background noise. Trimming the audio is essential. Lastly, an iPhone microphone is far from spectacular in terms of attaining quality audio. That it could correctly pick out a Cardinal 50 yards away with wind and cars is very impressive given the hardware. That said I don't expect it to be 100% every time and others shouldn't either

Don't bother...

What a wasted opportunity-hope it gets better over time. Species list doesn't include many common birds in my area, and no way to add them in to compensate. 1 star is too high, but can't give 0 stars?

Active birder

Got this app 2 days ago and had the opportunity to test early this morning on a snow covered gravel road in southwestern Maine woods. Quiet and cold but active birgsong. Although there were many short sounds recorded with hilarious. mammal selections, I got the hang of it and accuracy improved immensely. Was spot on with selection dozens of times. Often picked up a correct bird that I had not initially heard. At one single recording, it correctly selected five birds that all were heard simultaneously ! Pileated woodpecker, golden-crowned kinglet, red bellied woodpecker, raven, and white-breasted nuthatch. ( PIWO, GCKI, RBWP, CORA,WBNU ) Kudos to all. What a great way to learn the sounds, augment your hearing skills, and research all the other data provided by Sibley. I sure version 1.0.1 will be updated many times but out of the box, I loved it

Operating System issue

When I first got this app I had a pending iOS update for my phone and when I initially tried to use the app it would crash. I updated the iOS and it is now working fine. I haven't had a chance to field test the app very much since it is February but so far so good.

Complete Garbage

Great idea, but doesn't work at all. I tested it by recording a very clear calling Morning Dove, and it came back with Red-winged Blackbird, Hermit Thrush and Osprey as top hits. Yellow-rumped Warbler chips came back as Mockingbird and Lazuli Bunting. House Sparrow came back as Mockingbird. I want my $10 back.

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