The Cornell Lab Bird Academy Discussion Groups Bird Identification Need Help Identifying a Bird? Start Here

    • Bird Academy
      Bird Academy

      Need help identifying a bird?

      If you have access to a smartphone or tablet a great place to start is Merlin Bird ID, our free app available on iOS and Android.

      Watch this video to see Merlin Bird ID in action!

      [video transcript]

      Download on the Apple App Store
      Get it on Google Play

      Using Merlin

      Merlin asks you a series of questions about the bird you saw, then provides a list of possible species based on your answers. Simply look through photos and descriptions of each suggested species to help you decide which one is your bird.

      Here’s how:

      1. Download the Merlin app.
      2. Install a Bird Pack. Click View Suggested to see which one Merlin recommends for your region.
      3. Click on Start Bird ID.
      4. Answer the five questions as prompted.
      5. Look through the suggested species.
      6. If you find your bird, click This is my bird!

      Using Merlin Photo ID

      If you have a photograph of the bird in question, try using the Photo ID feature. It uses computer vision technology to identify your bird by comparing your photo to thousands of images previously submitted to eBird, our citizen science database of bird observations.

      Here’s how:

      1. Download the Merlin app.
      2. Click on Photo ID.
      3. Click Download to add Photo ID to your device.
      4. Click Take Photo to take a photo in the app, or Choose Photo if you already have one saved.
      5. Zoom until your bird fills the box as prompted.
      6. Confirm the location and date, or click I Don’t Know.
      7. Click Identify.
      8. Look through the suggested species.
      9. If you find your bird, click This is my bird!

      While not every bird species is currently in Merlin, new species are constantly being added to the over 7,500 species from around the world already covered.


      Free eBird Course

      Also, enroll in our FREE eBird Essentials course to learn more about using eBird and Merlin. Then start contributing your own bird observations!

      You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
    • Gary
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      UnknownBIrdUnknownBird2I have been a member of Project Feederwatch for many years and have never seen a bird such as in these photos. Central California, Tulare County, early December. Sparrow size, barred breast, dark face, no eye ring, no wing bars. Top of tail a little lighter than its back. Can anyone help? Thanks.
      • Zo
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        Scaley Breasted Munia
    • Eric
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      015_8477 Eric van Poppel-SharpenAI-Standard015_8477 Eric van Poppel I could use some help to ID this sunbird. I saw it in April near Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park south africa. Could it be th cinnyris mariquensis? Thanks in advance, Eric
      • Esteban
        Participant
        Chirps: 163
        It is most definitely a Cynnyris Talatala or white-breasted sunbird. Great find by the way!
      • Eric
        Participant
        Chirps: 2

        @Esteban Thanks for your help Esteban!

    • Matthew
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Location: Bronx, New York White Collar and Tail Feathers on a black body. unnamed I was at work the other day in New York and saw this bird that I could not identify. I asked two ornithologists that I know, and neither was able to provide a definitive answer.
      • Esteban
        Participant
        Chirps: 163
        In nature, weird feather mutations are a thing, and it seems to happen here with this bird, which is probably a crow, raven, grackle, blackbird, or otherwise. If you remember what the bird´s shape is, it could help greatly in determining if this bird is one of the birds above that suffers from partial albinism or is simply just a crossed bird.
    • jason
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Location:  Colfax, Louisiana (Central Louisiana) Beak is pointed.  What is this bird? P1090456
      • David
        Participant
        Chirps: 50
        Upland sandpiper, nice find
      • Teagan
        Participant
        Chirps: 11

        @David Yea, Upland Sandpiper

    • Daniel
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      41D4FAED-EAD7-4FE2-83FD-42B327EE0C46 I have been able to identify every bird that visits our feeders except this one! Nelson county Kentucky 9-4-2023. Merlin says the call is a thrasher… does not look like a thrasher to me. Compared it to every bird in Sibley for Kentucky for surrounding months to no avail. Any ideas out there? Thank you kindly. E31A294C-9BB0-42D3-B7A1-4B2B4E3B764709C65765-4013-40BE-83A8-22110C9C2C01
    • Alice
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I live in Shreveport, LA.  There are various bodies of water nearby, many of them offshoots of the Red River from its direction changing over the years.  I found this bird feather in a parking lot.  It is approximately 7 inches long.  With unusual coloration, I believed it would be easy to photo ID online.  But that is not so, at least not for me!  Since it is fairly large, I had in my mind the idea that it belongs to some type of waterfowl.  From looking at pictures of green herons, I believe it might be from one of those.  Yet I can find no individual feather photos to confirm that.  I usually find success using the Feather Atlas, but the only feathers I can find there for a green heron are all one color and there are only 3 in total listed. If anyone can provide insight and direction as to a correct ID I would truly appreciate it.   PXL_20230508_161645013PXL_20230508_162004145PXL_20230509_172226915
    • Ari
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I found this duck in Baltimore this week and can’t figure out what is! Muscovy, hybrid?! Managed to get a couple of fuzzy pics through my scope. Any help is appreciated! IMG_1725IMG_1735
      • Dargan
        Participant
        Chirps: 15
        I definitely think it is a Muscovy.
    • Lianna
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Lovely ducks in a pond. Many Mallards, I believe some hybrids of Mallard x American Black Duck. But these ones I can't pin point. The white eyebrows on the top two throw me off. And the bottom grey duck - is it a hybrid? In Fate, TX. 20230215_14353020230215_14353320230215_143816
    • Lucy
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      This is a really basic question but it’s stopped me before I’ve started. There are two parts to this question. First I’m on Lanzarote but it wants to send me the bird pack for Spain and I can’t work out which bird pack is best. Second I can only find the Latin names of birds and I can’t id in Latin only in English. I’m seeing turnstones, whimbrel, gulls of various species, plover, bustard, vultures and obviously canaries and sparrows, egrets, heron, raven, doves. Can’t enter anything. Help.
      • Esteban
        Participant
        Chirps: 163
        You can change the language in configuration. Choose the pack for all Spain.
    • Adrian
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      what are these cute little birds at my feeder?Screenshot_20221130-190811
      • Lianna
        Participant
        Chirps: 5
        They look like House Finches to me.
    • Sam
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I need help IDing these 2 birds. Tried in vain for awhile on Merlin's database searching juveniles and still couldn't find a positive ID. Seen off of the coast of Anacortes, WA.DSCN2669DSCN2668DSCN2637 (2)
      • Bob and Carol
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        Your top two birds look like loons, probably Common Loons, but possibly Pacific Loons.  The bottom picture appears to be a female Common Goldeneye (Duck).
      • Lianna
        Participant
        Chirps: 5
        I think the top two photos are a Red-necked Grebe, either a nonbreeding adult or immature, resting its head on its chest.
      • Dargan
        Participant
        Chirps: 15

        @Lianna I am almost certain the top ones are loons, not grebes. I agree that the bottom is an goldeneye.

    • Noam
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      birdHi, Shot this cutie today in Boulder, Colorado. Cannot figure out what it is. I'm a newbie so bear with me... Thanks Noam
      • Sam
        Participant
        Chirps: 2
        Looks like a Western Bluebird to me. Compare between Eastern Bluebird, the ranges overlap slightly for Colorado.
      • David
        Participant
        Chirps: 50
        Yes, make sure to look at the shoulder. If the orange goes over onto the back its a western. If it stops at the shoulder its an eastern. I think eastern
    • maureen
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Trying to identify a bird that calls out at night to another bird high in the trees. Doesn’t seem to be an owl. Not a song but a call. Usually after dark for about two hours. In the Northwest.  I do  have a recording
    • Madelyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Found what I think is a Mourning dove? But in my book it looked different. Pink legs, otherwise black and grey, sitting on my neighbor's lawn. I'm sure this is easy for most people but I'm very new, thanks!
    • Nick
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      It was difficult to see if it was a natural bump or possibly a defect/injury... Your opinion... Seen in the town of San Andreas, Calaveras County, California early August 2022 IMG_0672IMG_0671
    • ginbudjim
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Could someone identify what kind of birds/ducks these are please?  I captured these photos of the birds sunning on a dock while my wife and I were visiting Lake Como, Italy. Perhaps they are migratory birds just passing through the area ?  I can find no other duck that looks like these guys. Thanks for anyone's help. IMG_5588_hqIMG_5595_hqIMG_5599_hq
      • Elizabeth
        Bird Academy
        These ducks are Common Mergansers. Note the narrow, pointed bill; shaggy crest; and white chest.
      • ginbudjim
        Participant
        Chirps: 2

        @Elizabeth Thank you Elizabeth. You confirmed what I just figured out myself. The predominant white color of these Mergansers was really throwing me off. These must be the Eurasian Gossander (Common Merganser) ?

      • Elizabeth
        Bird Academy

        @ginbudjim Yes, they are also called Eurasian Goosanders.

    • Annabeth
      Participant
      Chirps: 107
      That bird is a Black Phoebe. Though it might be juvenile? These birds can be seen flying around catching insects. Hope this helps.
    • Mark
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      This solid brown bird stumps Merlin and other apps, etc. Seems like a Phoebe but the color is wrong. (?) Seen June 6, 2021 in San Luis Obispo, CA, 93401, near a small lake.   solid-brown-bird - 1
      • Lianna
        Participant
        Chirps: 5
        Not sure what your location was, but these are what I think the bird looks like: Black Phoebe, Blackish Pewee, or Dark Pewee.
      • David
        Participant
        Chirps: 50
        Definitely a phoebe, probably a dark morph of an Eastern Phoebe
    • Jake
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      FEATHER CROP Can anyone tell me what type of bird this feather came from. It was found in a school yard in downtown Toronto. It's 18" long (45 cm). A friend thinks it's a turkey feather, and by the pictures I've seen, it is a very good possibility. Any thoughts?
    • Wendy
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Can you identify this bird?  Woodpecker, between Hairy and Downy in size, dull red cap, similar to Ladder-backed or American 3-toed (except red instead of yellow on head).  Colours all muted much like an immature.  Has been at my feeder and particulary the lard feeder over the past few days.  Postal code - L1Y1A2, Claremont, Ontario, Canada  We already have Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied so I know the difference20220128_095042
    • Ethel
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Unknown Anybody recognize this bird with bright yellow eyebrows I saw in my garden this morning? Thanks, Moonraker
      • J.P.
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        That looks like a Golden-crowned Kinglet; nice find! https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Golden-crowned_Kinglet/overview
      • Mel the birb
        Participant
        Chirps: 22
        definitely a golden crowned kinglet, note the yellow and red dot on its head.
    • David
      Participant
      Chirps: 50
      I found it thanks for helping!!! Laurence's Goldfinch!! Thank you:)
    • Raizel
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      The real question is why the Photo ID feature can only be used on a mobile device. Taking a picture of my monitor with my phone is odd.
    • Esteban
      Participant
      Chirps: 163
      I have installed merlin and try to identify it. But it is too confusing! Probably is that I have never seen a robin and a crow. Are there any tropical birds out of Canada or the United States that can measure the same as a robin or crow? And, are grassquits bigger or smaller than sparrows? Thank you for any help.
      • Elizabeth
        Bird Academy
        The best way for you to approach this is probably to think of some birds you are familiar with, then look up their size measurements and compare them to the four birds used in Merlin. Sparrows are about 12-17 cm, robins are 20-28 cm, crows are 40-53 cm, and geese are 76-110 cm. Saffron finches are 13.5 cm, so that is a good one for approximately sparrow-sized. Grassquits are smaller than sparrows. Ruddy ground doves are 16.5-18 cm, which is slightly smaller than a robin but is probably close enough. The goal of the size chart is not to figure out the exact measurement of your bird, just to get an approximate size. We're halfway there! Now just think of some medium and large birds you know, and continue the process. Once you have your four birds selected, the next time you use Merlin think of your own four when looking at the size chart to place your mystery bird. And of course if you get a photo you can upload that to Photo ID without answering the size question.