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What’s that bird? Merlin app has the answer

With the emphasis on staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are discovering the birds in their backyards – and they want to know the names of those birds.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has the solution: the free Merlin Bird ID app, designed to answer the simple question, “What’s that bird?”

The free Merlin Bird ID app allows you to zoom in on a picture of any bird, such as the Blackburnian warbler, and determine what it is using artificial intelligence techniques.

“Merlin is really focused on helping people easily identify their first bird,” said Drew Weber, Merlin project coordinator at the Cornell Lab. “You just answer five simple questions about date and location, plus the bird’s size, color and behavior. Or you can ask Merlin to identify a bird in a photo. In either case, Merlin lists the likely birds based on what’s been reported in your area at that time.”

Developed using artificial intelligence techniques and the millions of bird images archived in Cornell Lab’s Macaulay Library, Merlin Bird ID has learned to identify thousands of birds from photographs.

Merlin’s wizardry is powered also by the Cornell Lab’s eBird database – a citizen science project with millions of observations of birds reported by people all over the world. These observations help Merlin tell users which species to expect nearby, no matter their location.

Merlin includes more than 6,000 birds across the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia.

The Merlin Bird ID app is available for free for iOS and Android devices and can be downloaded from Merlin.AllAboutBirds.org.

Pat Leonard

Media Contact

Gillian Smith