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Close up of a great horned owl in a tree

Using the Merlin Bird ID App to Identify Common Birds On-The-Go

Have you ever wanted to quick identify a bird you’ve seen in your yard, at the park, or while on a hike? The Merlin Bird ID app from Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology can help!

Watch this short video to learn more about the app and what it can do. At the end of this blog post, there is a step-by-step video on how to use the app to identify birds.

Video: Introduction to the Merlin Bird ID App

How to use the App

To successfully use the Merlin Bird ID app, you’ll need:

  • to have a smartphone
  • be connected to wifi or your regular data network
  • observed a bird you’d like to identify

The app will ask you a few simple questions and based on your answers, will provide a list of species you may have seen. The Merlin Bird ID app uses data from the eBird app, a citizen-science project which collects and stores millions of bird observations around the world.  This data helps the Merlin Bird ID app know which species are in your area on any given day.

The list of species provided to you will take into account the bird’s size, color, location, time of year, and behavior that you provide by answering a few questions. If you don’t see the species you saw in the wild, on the list, you can adjust some of your observation details at the bottom of the page or click, “Report no matches.”

Can I use Merlin Bird ID while travelling?

Yes! This is my favorite part of the app.

Before travelling, connect to a reliable wireless internet connection. Then, in the menu, navigate to “Bird Packs.” Once in the Bird Pack menu, you can download a catalog of birds which are local to the area you will be travelling in.

A screenshot of the merlin bird ID app, showing the variety of local bird catalogs available to the user.

You can download and keep as many lists as you would like, but they will take up space in your mobile device. In my experience, it’s best to download the pack before leaving your home wireless connection … especially if travelling overseas.

If you’re looking to learn more about commonly confused species of birds in Central Florida, check out this blog post: Commonly Confused Birds in Central Florida 

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