Using Merlin to Identify Bird Species

How Merlin from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Can Help You Identify Bird Species

Rob Ripma

One of the toughest parts of getting involved in birding , is learning to identify bird species. Even common backyard birds can cause confusion and frustration when you start birding. As we gain experience, we are able to quickly identify most of our backyard birds but what happens when something totally unexpected arrives in our yards? The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has created Merlin to help you with both of these situations! This app asks a series of five questions and then gives you options as to what your bird might be!


User Inferface of Bird Species Identification with Merlin

These are three of the questions that Merlin asks. The other two are you location and the date of the sighting which are also critically important!

I’ve been testing it out for over a week now and I can say that it’s incredible how accurate it is! In addition to identifying the birds, the app gives you a good written description of the bird, several photos, a range map, and it can play the sounds of the bird.

Features of Bird Species Identification with Merlin

This is a great example of the additional information that Merlin includes beyond just identifying your birds.

I really believe that this app will make a big difference in the ability of backyard birders to quickly and accurately identify the bird species that they are seeing! Merlin is currently available on Apple devices and will be launched for Android sometime this spring. It is a free app and currently includes 285 of the most commonly seen bird species in the United States. You can learn even more about the app by clicking here!

  1. alicia says

    I love the concept! Really excited about trying new app! I live in NW & see many different birds & have no idea what they are! Can’t wait!

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