Merlin Bird ID, Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology’s free bird identification and field guide app Now featuring audio, images, identification text in English and Spanish, and range maps for each species of the Yucatan Peninsula, Oaxaca and Chiapas, Merlin Bird ID puts all the birds one can expect to see there—including resident and migrant species—at ready access on your smartphone.
Imagine you are birding El Triunfo, and you see a small black and yellow bird you don’t immediately recognize. Merlin can walk anyone through the process of identifying a bird in the same way advanced birders do, considering not only what the bird looks like, but also what it is doing, and how likely it is at that location and point in time. With five simple questions about where and when you observed the bird, what size and color it was, and what it was doing, you’ll be able to identify the Black-headed Siskin you just saw. It’s like having an expert birder with you in the field wherever you go.
Do you have a photo of a bird that you can’t identify? Merlin includes Photo ID– just take a photo through your binoculars, from the viewfinder of your camera, or snap a photo from your computer screen, and Merlin will give you a few suggestions. You can look over the suggestions to see if it matched what you saw and compare it to the images in the app. This feature is possible thanks to the millions of images stored in the Macaulay Library, including many photos submitted by eBirders like you.
In addition to trying to identify a specific bird, you can flip through all the birds, like a digital field guide for your region. You can set your location to get a list of “Likely Birds” in your area based on eBird reports around you, and even narrow it down for any time of year. You can sort the birds by family, just like most paper field guides, or by “most likely” for your location. This last feature is especially useful for beginning birders who want to familiarize themselves with the common birds in their area first, before getting to the rarer species.
How does it work?
You can download Merlin for free from the App Store (iOS) or Play Store (Android). After downloading the app, figure out which bird packs you want. If you download the Yucatan Peninsula pack, you will get all resident birds reported in Quintana Roo, Campeche and Yucatan, as well as migrants. Each bird pack includes high quality photos contributed by birders like you, representative songs and calls from the Macaulay Library, and excellent identification texts written by Steve N. G. Howell and Luke Seitz. You’ll have access to all content—photos, texts and sounds—even when you’re offline. This means that after downloading the content, you don’t need internet or cell phone reception to be able to use Merlin as a field guide.
We are finishing up the Spanish translations for packs to cover the rest of Mexico, and these should be out in the next month.