This Android app will identify any bird you see

Merlin bird photo ID

Merlin bird photo ID

If you’ve always had trouble differentiating Caspian Terns from Royal Terns, there’s now an app that can help you. The Merlin Bird Photo ID was created with bird watchers in mind, carrying with it over 400 species of birds found in North America, and over 70 million photos in its bird identification database.

The app is easy to use. All users have to do is take a photo of a bird and answer a few questions about what it looked like when they took the picture. Users must also point out on the photo where the bird’s bill, eye and tail are. After that, the app will search from its database and present the user with the most accurate search result.

“It gets the bird right in the top three results about 90% of the time, and it’s designed to keep improving the more people use it,” said Jessie Barry, the lead app designer working at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

One of the best things about the app is that it is constantly learning. It adapts to how users label the birds they’ve taken and applies this new knowledge on future searches.

Google, who is also trying to research computer vision recognition projects, was the one who sponsored The Merlin Bird Photo ID project. Computer vision and automated machine learning are both technologies that are still quite new but the Merlin Bird Photo ID is quite an impressive breakthrough in detecting real-life objects through digital records.

It’s quite impressive to see how apps are getting better every day. In the past, they were simply programs to entertain. Now, they’re like real-life assistants. According to the firm that handles the entertainment hub Pocket Fruity, mobile is used anywhere, even in the most unusual of places, so it’s not really surprising to see apps evolve into useful things that can be used everywhere, even in bird watching. Perhaps in the future, we’d get an app that can capture bird images and instantly make 3D printouts out of them. Imagine all the real-life action figures of birds the people can have with that app!

Merlin Bird Photo ID is free for Android phone users.

2 thoughts on “This Android app will identify any bird you see

  1. Saw a black and yellow wood pecker. Never seen one before in Bucksport, Maine. Have a lot of bird books, not any yellow and black wood peckers to be found. Only saw bird for one day. Can you give me any information. Thanks Cindy


    • Hi Cindy. Thanks for writing. How much yellow was shown and where on the bird? Both Three-toed Woodpeckers and Black-backed Woodpeckers show a patch of yellow on the head. Also, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker shows some yellow but it’s not as pronounced as the name might suggest. Thanks again Cindy.


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