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Smartphone application takes the mystery out of birdcalls.

Even the most experienced birders have trouble matching more than a handful of songs with species, but UW–Madison ornithologist Mark Berres may have answered the prayers of bird watchers, researchers, and even the most casual naturalist with a new smartphone application.

WeBIRD, the Wisconsin Electronic Bird Identification Resource Database, was inspired a few years ago when a graduate student stepped into Berres’s office to show off a nifty iPhone trick.

“He recorded a short bit of music coming from the radio in my office, tapped an identify button, and in a few seconds, it told him the name of the song we [were] listening to,” Berres says. “Right away, I thought, ‘We can use this for birds.’ ’’

For more than a year, Berres, an assistant professor of animal science, and his students have been testing and improving an app that allows anyone with a smartphone and a mysterious bird nearby to record the bird’s call, submit it wirelessly to a server, and (after a few seconds) receive a positive ID on the species of bird tweeting away within earshot.

“I am amazed at how good it is,” says Berres, who has also used WeBIRD to identify grasshopper species by their clicking calls and frogs by their croaks. “In fact, not only can WeBIRD tell you which species you’re hearing, it’s good enough to identify individual birds from their song.”

Published in the Spring 2012 issue


  • Horacio March 13, 2012

    Too bad that the data/photo’s in this book has not, so far, been digitalized for use on the iPhone or iPad. The iPhone would be an ecxellent way to overcome the books weight and size while actually doing birding .

  • Mary March 29, 2012

    When will the iPhone app be available? It sounds marvelous and MUCH NEEDED? This is very innovative and creative to be able to “reverse engineer” and identify the bird?

  • Russ December 15, 2012

    Any news on the general availability of an iPhone app for WeBIRD? I see an app for Android but not iPhone. It would be nice to be able to help quantitate bird surveys in the spring of 2013.

  • Elizabeth M February 1, 2013

    Seriously – iPhone it please!!!

  • BILL March 31, 2013

    need WeBIRD FOR IPAD.

  • Nancy Busbey April 15, 2013

    When will this be available for the iPhone? This is what I have wanted for a very long time!

  • Celia May 20, 2013

    Really want this app for mt iPhone! Are making one?

  • Don June 9, 2013

    I’d love to see a forecast of when the app will be available.
    Good luck with developing it!

  • richard g taylor June 21, 2013

    when**when***when ?????????

  • jsckie August 11, 2013


  • David Austin February 18, 2014

    Update on webird availability? Thanks.

  • Glenn Modrak May 11, 2014

    WeBird for Kindle would be great. Let us know

  • Claire Wright May 16, 2014

    I have an iPhone and am VERY interested in WeBird. When will it be available for me to use?

  • August 13, 2014

    Here is an update on the app from the researcher:

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