Merlin

October 25, 2017

Merlin is a free bird identification app for your smartphone, offering quick identification help for all levels of bird watchers to learn about North America and Europe’s common and rare birds.

The program will ask you five simple questions about a bird you are trying to identify and Merlin’s Bird ID Wizard will come up with a list of possible matches.

Date and location are Merlin’s first and most important questions. Merlin Bird ID uses more than 415 million observations from eBird, customizing your list to the species you are most likely to have seen at your location at that time of year. Merlin also asks you to describe the color, size, and behavior of the bird you saw. Because people describe birds differently, Merlin presents a shortlist of possible species based on descriptions from experts as well as thousands of bird enthusiasts who “taught” Merlin by participating in online activities. They have contributed more than 3 million descriptors to help Merlin match your input with the most likely birds. When you identify a species and click “This is My Bird,” Merlin saves your record to help improve its future performance.

You can also take a photo of a bird and Merlin Photo ID will offer a short list of possible matches. Photo ID works completely offline, so you can identify birds from photos you take when you are far from cell service.

You can browse and receive free access to more than 8,000 bird images taken by top photographers, more than 3,000 audio recordings from the Macaulay Library, identification tips from experts, and range maps from the Birds of North America Online and Neotropical Birds.

What can Merlin offer land trusts?

If a parcel’s management plan requires a steward to monitor it each year, land trusts can use Merlin to assist staff and volunteers when identifying birds on those properties. The resources on Merlin’s site listed above can serve as great educational tools for members and donors.