Thanks to eBirders, a New App for Beginners

We are excited to introduce you to Merlin Bird ID, an app that leverages the power of eBird observations to help beginners identify common birds. Merlin uses eBird data to create a short list of birds that match the user’s description and are likely to be found at the location and time of the sighting. If you find yourself leading bird walks, working in public outreach, or sharing your love of birds with friends and neighbors, please check out Merlin and help spread the word. Read on to find out more.

Merlin Bird ID is available now for iPhone, iPad, and iPod with iOS7. Make sure you have a WIFI connection before downloading it because of the large size (it has lots of photos and sounds).  Download it for free from the App Store.




Or sign up to receive notification when it’s available on Android later this spring.

Merlin’s target audience is beginners. It focuses on the 285 most common species in North America (additional species are on the way). Just like a birding coach, Merlin asks a few questions and suggests which species could have been in the area at that time of year. The ability to narrow down the list of species to within a 25-mile radius of any location in the United States and Canada is a feature that would not be possible without the millions of sightings contributed by eBirders.

In addition to being a step-by-step ID wizard, Merlin includes more than 1,400 photos, more than half of them taken by eBird project leaders Chris Wood and Brian Sullivan. It features ID tips, more than 800 audio recordings from the Macaulay Library, and range maps from The Birds of North America Online.

Over the years, many eBird features have focused on ways in which eBird observations are used in research and on-the-ground conservation. This time eBird data are helping beginning birders and people who may have never paid attention to birds before. By making it easier for beginners to identify birds, we hope Merlin will help grow the community of people who care about and protect birds.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed eBird sightings, images, and annotations on AllAboutBirds/Labs to make Merlin possible. We think of Merlin as a tool built by the birding community to share birding with others.

Birds in the Hand, LLC, the developer of BirdLog and BirdsEye, partnered with the Cornell Lab to create the app. We thank the National Science Foundation, Pennington Wild Bird Food, and friends and members of the Cornell Lab for support that made it possible to create the Merlin app and offer it to the public for free. In the coming months, we will continue to improve the Merlin app and release versions for web use and Android devices.

To learn more, visit the Merlin App website.

Contributed by Jessie Barry, Merlin Project Leader, Cornell Lab