Hey friends! Today I wanted to share some details about my favorite nature app of the moment – Merlin Bird Identifier. Merlin was developed by the bird experts at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and is able to draw from their extensive research database in order to make the process of identifying birds in your area a breeze! I downloaded it about six months ago and it’s my go-to tool for learning about the various east coast birds that I had never seen before moving to Brooklyn.
What’s cool about Merlin, is that it draws upon more than 500 million observations from the eBird citizen-science project – observations submitted by regular nature-lovers just like you and me.
You can use the app in a variety of ways – you can answer a series of questions about your bird sighting and the app will narrow down the possibilities based on your location, time of year, and details about the bird’s appearance. You can also take a photo of your bird right in the app, or upload a photo from your camera roll, and Merlin will put a name to the bird in your image. This function is especially handy, though, you do need to have a clear, and fairly close-up photo for it to work. I tend to use this when watching the bird feeder just outside my window.
Lastly, the app gives you the option of downloading various “bird packs” which are databases of birds found in various regions that you can simply browse through to see if you recognize any from your daily travels. The lists include fantastic images of species in various stages of their lives and in both sexes which can be very helpful, as plumage can be quite distinct between males and females. Through these packs, you can listen to each bird’s call, their songs, and see a map of their locations based on migration and breeding.
I find myself using this final option quite a bit, just to see all the various birds in my new place of residence. I think the best part about the Merlin app is simply the amount of information it provides, and it does so in a really nice, clean interface. And of course, you have the option of sharing your Merlin IDs on your social channels too, so all your friends can see what a pro you are at identifying birds in your neighborhood. 😉