Merlin Bird ID app
Download the app here:
Smartphones are becoming an increasingly important part of birding. If you want to be the first person to hear about a rare bird, digiscope a rarity, or submitting your sightings, having a small portable computer at your fingertips is enabling all of this to happen. We also look to our smartphones as identification aids now that field guides are packaged into apps. But what if your app could instantly scan your photo and match it to a species based on an archive of millions of bird images? It can.
The Merlin Bird ID app was developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to do just this, taking a photo you snap in the field, and suggesting an identification. Photo ID identifies birds in photos using computer vision technology trained on nearly 3 million images uploaded to Macaulay Library through eBird checklists.
The high accuracy of the Photo ID tool is largely thanks to the extensive collection of images at Macaulay Library, showing birds from many different angles. Annotations on these images (a box drawn around each bird in the photo) also help teach the Photo ID tool to find the birds in the photo–-anyone can help improve Merlin’s accuracy by adding new annotations with Macaulay’s MerlinVision tool.
Help Merlin improve and add species
1) Upload your photos to the Macaulay Library via eBird. See the target lists to prioritize species to contribute.
2) Draw boxes around birds. It’s easy. Really, MerlinVision is great for moments of procrastination.
3) Submit your sightings. eBird is the magic behind Merlin. Contributing observations of birds you see will enable Merlin to make more accurate predictions.
Merlin Bird ID isn’t just limited to identifying photos. If you don’t have a photo, Merlin will walk you through the process of identifying a new bird, asking for location, date, size, shape and behavior, and then suggesting several possible identifications. These suggested identifications are powered by the vast database of bird sightings in eBird, helping to narrow down the list of possible species to just those you might actually see at a particular location and date.
Whether or not the bird you are identifying with Merlin is one you can already identify on your own, Merlin Bird ID can help anyone gain confidence that the name they are putting on a bird is correct. Merlin is regularly expanding its coverage to new parts of the world, providing identification help to more and more birders around the globe, and enabling traveling birders to quickly and confidently identify birds they have never seen before.
Merlin Bird ID is a free download for iOS and Android smartphones. Merlin currently includes content for over 1000 species in the US, Canada, and Mexico, with regional expansions planned for the near future.
Merlin currently works in Northwestern Europe, USA, Canada, Mexico, Belize and Guatemala, with many other regions on the radar