Song Sleuth first impressions

You have probably heard about Song Sleuth by now, an app that will identify bird songs for you in the field.  I had my doubts but I was also intrigued, especially with a trip to Texas coming up in a month which will likely be filled with unfamiliar bird songs.  Ten bucks was not my ideal price tag but I have wasted ten bucks on stupider things before so I took the plunge.

It was raining when I downloaded it and I didn't really want to test it outside, so my first test was at work with a Pacific Northwest birds CD.  It failed the first few I played and finally skipped ahead to Great Horned Owl, because what could be easier?  These are the options it gave me:

Ummmm.... No.  I tried a new recording of the same owl....

Okay then.  I tried a few others with similar results though it did manage to identify a Western Meadowlark song.

Of course the app does come with this disclaimer:  "If you will be disappointed to see the wrong answer, then this app isn't for you."

The app does offer ways to edit the recordings but that is more work than I am interested in.  I gave the app an outdoor test the other day when a Song Sparrow was really belting it out fifteen feet from me. 

I also got it to identify a singing junco on the fourth try, though it was the third option down on the list.

The app also correctly identified a scrub-jay.  Most of the time it seemed like there was too much other noise going on for it to work.  A Pacific Wren at the Grotto yesterday was identified as a Red Squirrel or Human. 

I'll give it a try again when the weather is nicer and more birds are singing.  Till then, I have to recommend saving your ten bucks.*

*This is based on very little so do whatever you want.  It's still fun to play with and will hopefully be improved over time.


  1. Sounds like it needs improving for sure! Back in the days We had the Tapes called "Birding by Ear" and you listened over and over and learned the calls, it was a good way to make my 20 minute drive to work a learning experience! I still have hopes for Texas this spring myself.

    1. Yep, I still think that's the way to go. This app is not going to help anyone just yet. I hope you make it to Texas!!

  2. Please write a blog post about the dumber things you have spent 10 bucks on.

  3. Haha! Sorry about your money, but this was pretty comical. I guess in all fairness pigeons do kind of sound like owls? Reminds me of the time I tried to break the Merlin app by taking pictures of people and asking it to identify them. I was a Long-billed Dowitcher and my wife was a Barred Owl.

    1. Hopefully your wife refrains from killing you in the night!

  4. I was curious about this app, but it sounds like it might need some work before it's super helpful! I read another review that said you have to edit down the song to just isolate the particular bird you want. I'm curious so for $10 I may have to try it anyway lol


Post a Comment