Merlin lets you easily identify almost every bird species across the world
From casual bird buddies to ornithology obsessives, you can now trek to far flung corners of the globe and identify any feathered friend you find – as long as you have a smartphone.
The hugely popular Merlin Bird ID app has outgrown its nest and spread it wings to now enable the identification of more than 10,300 species around the globe.
“The original idea for Merlin was all about helping you figure out, ‘What’s that bird I’m seeing?’ in a quick and simple way,” said Jessie Barry, program manager of the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab. “With this newest update, anyone anywhere in the world can now use Merlin to learn about the birds around them.”
The free digital app, available from the Apple Store, Google Play Store and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, currently has more than three million active users, and includes a worldwide digital field guide and ID assistant to help them build their bird knowledge.
The app is a treasure trove of information, with descriptions, photos and sounds of the 10,315 species currently on file. Right now, there are more than 55,000 photos and 26,000 audio recordings of birds, including sound ID covering all known species in the US, Canada and Europe. Each region is broken down into a Bird Pack, so your phone doesn’t too get clogged with data specific to areas you’re not in (you'll still need a bit of room, however).
“The expansion of Merlin Bird ID to cover all the birds of the world is really an amazing accomplishment, thanks to the global birding community,” said Merlin project leader Drew Weber. “They’ve contributed their photos and sounds through the Lab’s eBird observation platform and into our digital archive, the Macaulay Library. The photos and audio recordings help users identify different species in the app and train the Merlin's AI tools, Sound ID and Photo ID.”
While the app is wonderful for curious, casual spotters, it can also be a handy tool for ecology and conservation studies, essentially providing different field guides in the one library.
And much like those field guides, which require a process of elimination to identify your chosen bird in the wild, the app walks you through an easy interface of features such as location, size, color and habitat position, to then offers you close matches.
Depending on your location, citizen science projects like the Great Backyard Bird Count are also on offer throughout the year for app users who wish to create a free profile. A login also lets you save searches, explore likely birds in your area and more.
Developers are working on full worldwide coverage for birdcalls, so everyone can partake in a much more wholesome version of tweeting on their smartphone.
Check out the video for more on the app.
Source: Cornell Lab
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