Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could identify any bird from a picture? Well, you can with the smartphone app I am going to present to you in this article. It’s easy and accurate, works with IOS and Android, and I have been using it for years. You are going to love it!
A bird identifier by picture app that is incredibly accurate is Merlin Bird ID by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Merlin can identify birds worldwide from a database of over 8000 species. Birds can be identified from an existing photo or one taken on the spot. The database is growing all the time.
Continue reading to learn more about the amazing Merlin bird app from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. You will see a video of me using the app to identify various birds from all over the world quickly and easily. I’ll also provide you with links where you can download the app and show you how to use some of its other features, including the online version.
Bird Identifier By Picture – Merlin Bird ID Smartphone App
Merlin Bird ID was created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to make identifying birds, no matter where you are in the world, a whole lot easier. The app uses information gathered from eBird and the Macaulay Library.
eBird is a citizen-science project where birders from all across the globe enter their bird sightings in real-time. The data is stored in eBird’s huge online database and Merlin draws upon this information to present you with the best bird identifications possible.
The Macaulay Library is a wildlife media archive that has been in existence since 1929. The library is the world’s premier scientific archive of video, audio, and photographs. It works in combination with Merlin and eBird to provide quality media relating not just to birds but to amphibians, fish, and mammals also.
Identify Birds By Picture With Merlin’s Photo ID
Identifying birds by picture is just one way in which Merlin can help determine bird species. As this article is about Merlin’s Photo ID I won’t go into the other features too much but it can also identify them by sound, location, size, color, and behavior.
When you first download Merlin, it will ask you to enter your email address or sign in with your Google account. This is simply because The Cornell Lab of Ornithology relies on member support to do what they do. They will email you from time to time asking for donations but you can unsubscribe at any time and still keep using Merlin.
Once you have entered your email address, you are ready to use Merlin. Watch the video below to learn more about the Photo ID section of this fabulous app:
Not Mentioned In The Video
One thing I failed to mention in the above video was that the Merlin app will work without the bird packs only you won’t get images or information about the birds.
I’ll prove this by doing an ID of this image of a Golden-headed Manakin that was featured in my 10 Amazing And Unique Birds You Won’t Believe Exist post.
For this example, I didn’t enter a location or a date:
As you can see below, Merlin successfully identified the bird but no image or information was displayed as I don’t have that birds pack installed:
Clicking on the List tab brings up a list of possible matches for the photo. As you can see, Merlin displays the Prothonotary Warbler as this bird was included in the US and Canada: Continental pack I have installed.
Another Feature Of The Merlin App
I don’t feel at this point that I need to talk up the Merlin app any further but nonetheless, I will go into some of the other great features it has.
The Merlin app is not just a very effective bird identification app but also a great learning tool. As I mentioned earlier in the post, the app draws on information from eBird and also the Macaulay Library. This means it is packed with great images, audio, and information about each species.
By tapping the Explore Birds button you gain access to an A-Z list of the birds in the packs you have downloaded. If you tap the inverted pyramid in the top right-hand corner of the screen, you can customize the list:
Tapping on a bird’s name or picture brings up details about that species. You can read a bit about the bird, listen to its calls, or see where it can be found under the Map tab:
With this feature, you have access to information about thousands of bird species right there in the palm of your hand. By installing the bird packs, you also have access to this data when you’re offline too.
Where To Download Merlin Bird ID
I have already provided you with a link where you can download the Merlin Bird ID app but just in case you missed it, the buttons below will take you to the download pages:
One thing I have not mentioned until this point is the fact that Merlin is completely free. Yes, it’s a FREE app. There are no in-app purchases and best of all, no annoying ads to click off.
Other Recommended Bird Apps
While the Merlin app is the one bird app that gets the most use on my phone, there are others I use from time to time. You might like to check these other bird apps out for yourself.
If you are in the United States, this is a great bird guide app. Audubon is the trusted source for everything birds and birding in the US and this free app has information on over 800 North American bird species.
The bird ID feature of this app is extremely detailed. Not only can you enter the location, date, size, and color of the bird but also the type, habitat, sound, wing shape, tail shape, and activity. All this information put together leads to very accurate bird identification.
The Field Guide feature of the Audubon app is organized by bird families which I think is a great idea. You can also search for birds alphabetically.
There are loads more features in this app. Like Merlin, this app is completely free and also ad-free. To download and install it on your phone, follow the links below:
The online Audubon Guide To North American Birds is a great resource for learning about US bird species also.
I have mentioned eBird throughout this article. Even the Audubon app draws some of its information from eBird. If you are interested in recording your bird sightings, building a life list, and helping gather data for bird preservation and conservation, then eBird is an app you will want. It is also free and ad-free.
With eBird, you can submit your own sightings in real-time and also track other users’ sightings as well so you can find out where those elusive lifers are hanging out. This app works worldwide.
Scientists use the data from eBird to track the movements of bird species, their populations, and more. The data from eBird has been used in hundreds of conservation decisions. Download it now and become a citizen scientist:
You can also use eBird online at ebird.org.
Another great app that can identify birds by picture is Picture Bird. I have just started using the free version of this app and its identification algorithm is very powerful.
Above you can see the Home screen of the free version. I tried four or five IDs using photos I took from The Australian Bird Guide book; they were illustrations, not photographs and it still identified every one of them except one.
It incorrectly identified a Western Corella as a Little Corella. In the app’s defense, however, they are very similar species and it did offer up the Little Corella as a second possibility.
This app can get pricey, with premium subscriptions anywhere from AUD4.20 per week, to AUD44.99 per year.
The free version works just fine and has a lot included for a free app. Check it out for yourself via the links below:
Thank you for taking the time to read this article today. I hope that you got excited about one or all of the bird identification apps I presented to you and downloaded them right away!
Disclaimer – I am not affiliated with any of the apps or organizations mentioned in this article. I merely wrote this as I use these apps and know they are great.