Jump to content

FREE: Merlin Bird ID App


Recommended Posts

FREE: Merlin Bird ID App

This has been developed by Cornell University in conjunction with other birding organisations



Links on this page for Android or IOS Apps


I have been trying this free APP for the past couple of weeks.

It has three sections (all free). Within “Settings” you can choose Language(for species names, not descriptive text), and if you want to see the Scientific Names.

1. Bird ID

This section gives you a series of questions to answer about a bird (including location and time of year) and it comes up with a list of possibilities. I think this section is very much aimed at beginners.


2. Bird Packs

Each Bird Pack contains information about birds found in a particular region. For each bird there is some text and a series of photos (e.g. Male, Female, Juvenile, Breeding plumage etc). The also include recordings of the Song/Call of each species. You can download the particular packs that are useful to you. (all free)


Current Bird Packs are:

Europe (Britain and Ireland) (251 birds)

Europe (Scandinavia) – Northern Europe  (325 birds) (clearly there is an overlap with different bits of Europe)

Europe (Western) (It says France to Germany but I think it goes further south) (383 birds)

(These are the 3 I have downloaded so far)


United States and Canada (all)

United States –regions

Canada East, Canada West

Mexico (regions or whole country)



Costa Rica


Note: No Africa or Asia at the moment.

(I just downloaded the Costa Rica pack (750 birds) to have a look –I tried a few )


I think this section provides a useful supplement to a field guide – I find it helpful to have photos to compare to the drawings in the book, and having the song available is useful.

The weakness for the Europe section is that it does not (yet) contain distribution maps (I think that the North American sections do contain maps, and these sections were developed first – so perhaps in future?)


3. Photo ID


To a simple minded person like me, this section is MAGIC.:)

You take a picture of a bird with your phone/tablet (in real life, from your computer screen, from the back of your camera, a magazine). (or you can use a photo you already have).


You enter the location and date. It then identifies the bird (or sometimes gives 2 or 3 that it could be). It has been very accurate in all the instances I have tried, and when it has come up with 2 or 3 alternatives, they have seemed sensible. It links to the bird packs you have downloaded, so I have only tried European birds.


(Note: I had a look at the Costa Rica pack – it has 750 birds on the list. I tried the photo ID on a Safaritalk Trip Report and it agreed with the first 6 birds in the report! Worth a look if you are visiting Costa Rica soon @michael-ibk  @xelas)


I found this section very useful and good fun!

So - it doesn't cost anything - give it a try and see what you think.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for update, @TonyQ! Zvezda has this app already on her iPad and just now I am adding as much bird packs as possible.

How good IQ wise has to be the photo for BirdID?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think the IQ needs to be brilliant, but it will need to show enough features to allow identification. I imagine some birds are easier to identify than others. I suppose it is "try it and see". I will try some really bad photos and see.:D


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you @TonyQ

Once they have developed an African pack, I will definately be interested!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy