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The spines of field guides lined up on a bookshelf.

Apps and Field Guides to Help You Identify Birds

A birding app or a field guide is super useful for identifying the birds that you see. We recommend starting with free apps, which can't be beat for getting started with identifying birds. There are also apps that come packed with information and features that cost $, and they are easier to use once you have been birding for a while. Printed field guides are great to have, and we have a list below of those we recommend for both beginner and more experienced birders.

If you want to download an app or get a field guide, but are having a hard time making a decision, contact us -- we're happy to help!

Birding apps


Cost: Free!

Our top choice for anyone new to birding. Designed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, it's easy to use, and lets you know what you're likely to see based on where you're birding. Also, for every bird there are great recordings of bird songs and calls. It comes with a bunch of information about every bird you see.

Audubon Bird Guide

Cost: Free!

Nearly as beginner-friendly as Merlin, but with more species. It has great features that make it easy to compare similar-looking species. You can also search the area right around you, using your GPS, for birds that have been seen recently. Great for learning bird songs and calls.

iBird Pro

Cost: $20

Packed with cool information about almost every bird you could find in North America. Provides illustrations with specific field-marks to look for when identifying birds. Allows you to compare some similar sounding bird songs to one another. Not as beginner-friendly, but still allows you to search by your area, size, and shape of birds to narrow down what you're looking for.

Field Guides

Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America

Cost: $19

This field guide is one of our favorites -- easy to carry with you, great photos for each bird, and the birds are grouped by their appearance for easy identification of what you saw. A favorite guide for beginners but also for birders with more experience. Our top pick for beginning birders.

American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Massachusetts

Cost: $25

A field guide that covers birds that live in and migrate through Massachusetts, with information about where to find different kinds of birds in the state. It's organized by taxonomy: species that are more closely related to one another are grouped together.

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America

Cost: $20

A fantastic field guide for more experienced birders, and still works well for beginners. Beautiful color paintings of birds with excellent descriptions of what to look for in the field. Features all the birds you can find east of the Rocky Mountains. It's organized by taxonomy: species that are more closely related to one another are grouped together.

National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America

Cost: $28

We think this book is best for you if what you want is to learn more about the birds most likely to be outside your window, or in your neighborhood. This book also gives you tips on how to attract more birds to your neighborhood.

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