Explore Merlin Bird ID App - eBird Essentials

Merlin is a free app that uses five simple questions to identify the birds you find, providing real-time bird ID guidance, right in the palm of your hand.

This is such a cool app, you'll just have to see it in action.

Let's say we're out birding, and we see a mysterious small bird perched on a fence.

Time to put Merlin to work.

Start Bird ID and Merlin asks, where did you see the bird? You can choose your current location, choose a position on a map, or simply type in a place or postal code.

For this, I'm going to type in Ithaca, New York.

Next question, when did you see the bird? Today's date will automatically appear first, so July 23rd works for me.

Question three, what size was the bird? Okay, Merlin uses a ruler based on some common types of birds.

Was the bird sparrow-sized or smaller? Goose-sized or larger? Or somewhere in between? Sometimes this is hard, especially if the bird moves too quickly, but give it your best guess.

I think our bird is slightly larger than a sparrow and smaller than a robin, so I'll choose between sparrow and robin.

On to number four, what were the main colors? Again, this may be difficult depending on the bird and the time of day you see it, but try to choose up to three of the most obvious colors you saw.

I saw some blue on its back, orange on the throat, and some buffy brown on the belly.

Finally, what was the bird doing when you saw it? Eating at a feeder, swimming? No, and it wasn't on the ground.

A-ha, on a fence or wire.

And that's it.

These deceptively simple questions are at the core of all bird ID.

Next, we'll get our results.

Merlin provides a list of birds you are most likely to see, based on your description and eBird data for that location and time of year.

And here's our list.

Hey, that's it, it's a Barn Swallow.

You can check out photos of the species, listen to songs and calls, and browse the rest of the list to see other similar birds.

Once you've identified your bird, be sure to help Merlin learn by choosing This is My Bird.

If you're able to get a photo of the bird you see, you can also use the incredible Merlin Photo ID feature.

Select an image from your phone or snap a new one.

Zoom in so the bird fills the frame, then click next.

Confirm the location and the date and hit Identify.

Like magic, Merlin analyzes the photo and gives you a list of most likely species.

Yep, that's a Barn Swallow.

Thanks to cutting edge computer vision technology, Merlin Photo ID is more than 90% accurate for thousands of species of birds.

Isn't that amazing?

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