This here blog has contributed a great deal to the birding and technology debate and particular attention has been given to the iPhone, see earlier posts from Mike and Corey amongst others.

I’m an iPhone owner, I recently upgraded to a four to allow me access to a greater range of apps than my old 3G was able to offer. I’ve long been a convert to the iPhone as a superb tool for birding, variously using it in the field to report news via phone, text, email, access news via the fantastic birdguides UK news app, occasionally browse through the Northern European Field Guide from the same stable, as well as take the odd iPhonescope image as a record shot.

Black-tailed Godwit via Iphone & Leica APO Televid

Recently I found a gem of an app called Spectrogram that produces a streaming spectrogram or sonogram of any sound coming in via the iPhone built in microphone. Tilted to the horizontal the display offers 7 seconds of scrolling spectrogram analysis on the iPhone screen (I’ve not had the opportunity to test it on an iPad yet and it may be greater on iPad). The app allows users to pause the rolling screen at any point and utilising the iPhone’s ‘screenshot’ function it is possible to capture an image of the spectrogram for later comparison.

Black-tailed Godwit Spectrogram of Display Calls

The Spectrogram app allows you to change the colour of the display and the speed at which it moves across the screen. My only criticism would be the inability to produce a printout directly from the app though I guess if enough birders started using it and started shouting for that functionality the production team may yet see fit to deliver it in a future release.

Anyone really interested in sound recording birds with an iPhone could do worse than invest in an add-0n mike for improved sound quality and recording range. I’ve not got one yet but this has caught my eye and I’ve heard good things about it. If you do start recording bird calls and songs you may also like to contribute them to the fantastic and free resource over at Xeno-Canto, without question one of the best, if not the best web resource for bird sound.

And if like me your a bit of a novice when it comes to understanding all this you could do worse than spend a little time reading Nathan Pieplow’s superbly detailed and thorough blog which opens up the world of bird song and calls in an incredibly enthusiastic and positive way.


Written by Alan
With a high flying career in business management Alan Tilmouth was once described as an irruptive birder. With the arrival of twins to add to his existing two kids in 2007 he grabbed the opportunity to bring some life changes. Business sold, he is now a full-time dad, birder, and blogger. Alan lives in Northumberland England's most northerly county, works part-time as part of the birdguides news team, tinkers with freelance writing and tries to figure out how his DSLR works. You can read his blog here.