The free Merlin Bird ID app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology uses AI technology to identify bird species by their sounds, displaying in real time a list and photos of the birds that are singing or calling.
Merlin can now help you identify more than 400 bird species by sound throughout the United States and Canada (with more species and regions to come), adding to features that already enable you to identify 7,500 species around the world based on bird photos or descriptions.
Merlin’s pioneering approach to sound identification uses AI technology powered by tens of thousands of citizen scientists who contributed their bird observations and sound recordings to the Lab’s Macaulay Library via eBird, the Cornell Lab’s global database.
Rather than cracking the problem by teaching computers to identify the actual sounds, researchers at the Cornell Lab trained Merlin to recognize the visual patterns of each bird song based on spectrograms — images that capture the amplitude, frequency, and duration of the sound. They had previously used visual techniques to successfully train Merlin to identify birds in photos.
Merlin helps identify individual bird sounds even when multiple birds are singing at the same time. After you record sounds, you can select a species and zip back to the spot in the recording where its song or call occurred. The recordings are saved automatically so you can listen to and look at the sounds again and again, making Merlin a great learning tool.
With one-touch access, you can also go deeper and learn more about each bird with ID tips, maps, and more than 80,000 photos and sounds from the Cornell Lab’s Macaulay Library.
The Merlin Bird ID app with the new Sound ID feature is available for free on iOS and Android devices. First released in 2014 and downloaded by more than 6 million people worldwide, Merlin is the only bird ID app enabling both sound and photo identification powered by AI.
Photo of Common Yellowthroat by Brad Imhoff, Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.