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

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    • 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!

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    • Raizel
      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
      Chirps: 103
      Common pottoo
      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.
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