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Old 01-13-2014, 01:24 PM   #1
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chickadee What's That Bird? A New App Names the Birds You See

What's That Bird? A New App Names the Birds You See
“Merlin” iPhone app asks five questions, reveals nearby birds

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
For release: January 13, 2014

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Ithaca, NY—The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has released a free iPhone app to help people identify 285 birds in North America. Created with support from the National Science Foundation, the app asks just five questions, then displays photos of birds that match your description—customized to your location and time of year.

“We named the app ‘Merlin’ because of its uncanny, almost magical, way of guessing which bird you saw,” says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Jessie Barry, whose team created the app with partner Birds in the Hand. "The app is designed for beginning and intermediate bird watchers and we hope birders will share the free app with friends and family."

Barry says that, far from magic, Merlin uses data from citizen-science participants and bird watchers to understand how people see and describe birds—and to narrow the list to the birds found nearby.

The app is the first to use data from the eBird citizen-science project to dynamically select the birds found within about a 30-mile radius of your location at the time when you saw the bird.

“This type of precision is only possible because bird watchers report their sightings to eBird from locations across North America every day of the year,” Barry said. Merlin draws upon 70 million eBird sightings to calculate which species you’re most likely to encounter.

Additionally, bird watchers “trained” Merlin to understand how people see and describe birds. By participating in online activities to describe birds based on photos, they contributed more than three million data points that Merlin uses to deduce which birds are the most likely based on people’s description of color, size, and behavior.

The app records your response when you confirm the bird you saw, enabling researchers to identify successful interactions and improve Merlin’s performance over time. It also displays photos, ID tips, sounds, and range maps for each species.

The Merlin Bird ID app can now be downloaded from the App Store.

The Cornell Lab plans to release Merlin for Android and online use in the coming months, and to continue adding more species. Merlin is made possible with support from the National Science Foundation, Pennington™ Wild Bird Food, and friends and members of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The Cornell Lab is a nonprofit organization with the mission to improve the understanding and protection of birds.

For the Merlin App video and website, please visit birds.cornell.edu/Merlin.

News Release: New App Identifies the Birds Near You

Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab of Ornithology

By Cornell University
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Description

What’s that bird? Merlin Bird ID helps you solve the mystery. First, Merlin asks you a few simple questions. Then, almost like magic, it reveals the list of birds that best match your description. Pick your bird, then delve into more photos, sounds, and ID tips about your bird!
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/merlin-bird-id-by-cornell/id773457673?mt=8

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Old 01-13-2014, 05:34 PM   #2
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Thanks, Circium! Got it downloaded to iPad. I know Cornell has access to enough great photos and I do wish they would present similar birds such as sparrows, gulls, in the same pose.
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Old 01-13-2014, 08:18 PM   #3
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That is really cool thanks cirsium!
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Old 01-13-2014, 08:51 PM   #4
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It isn't listed in the App store for my iPad right now. I will try again later. maybe they are having technical problems...

I use a program called iBird by Mitch Waite's group. It was not cheap, but it has a really good search function where you can type in location, month, size, color, etc and it progressively narrows down what birds it could be.

Free is good, though, and I can't wait to try this new one out!
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Old 01-15-2014, 07:40 PM   #5
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Also have Merlin on iPhone now too, along with a few others!
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Old 01-15-2014, 09:41 PM   #6
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Thanks, Cirsium. I downloaded the app, so I'll have it when I need it.
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