Merlin Bird ID: Revolutionizing Birdwatching with AI


Birds are an integral part of our lives: they help us begin our day with musical chirps and inform us that the surrounding is safe & sound. Most of us who like to stay quiet when a bird starts to sing, also often wonder which bird is it that we’re being mesmerised by. Merlin Bird ID is here to help.

Here's a preview of various kinds of birds that I came across during a morning walk in my area:

Merlin Bird ID Session

What is Merlin Bird ID?

Birdwatching, a beloved hobby for many, often requires extensive knowledge and experience to accurately identify different species. The Merlin Bird ID app, developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, has revolutionized this activity by integrating advanced machine learning algorithms. Launched in 2014, Merlin Bird ID helps users identify birds through photos and sounds, making birdwatching accessible to everyone, from novices to experts.

Merlin Bird ID Examples

How Merlin Bird ID Works

Photo Identification

The app allows users to upload photos of birds they encounter. Merlin’s machine learning model, trained on millions of images, quickly analyzes the uploaded photo and suggests possible matches. Users can further refine the identification by answering a few simple questions about the bird’s size, color, and behavior. This interactive process significantly enhances the accuracy of the identification, providing users with a reliable way to learn about their feathered friends.

Sound Identification

In addition to photo identification, Merlin Bird ID also offers sound recognition capabilities. Users can record bird songs or calls using their smartphones, and the app’s sophisticated audio analysis tools compare the recording to a vast database of bird sounds. The app then provides a list of potential matches, allowing birdwatchers to identify birds by their unique vocalizations. This feature is particularly useful for spotting elusive species that are often heard but rarely seen.

The Science Behind Merlin Bird ID

The power of Merlin Bird ID lies in its use of machine learning and artificial intelligence. The app’s algorithms are trained on extensive datasets curated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, encompassing thousands of bird species from around the world. These datasets include both visual and auditory data, enabling the app to recognize birds with remarkable accuracy. Merlin’s continuous learning process means it improves over time, becoming more adept at identifying birds as more data is collected and analyzed.

User-Friendly Features

Merlin Bird ID is designed with user experience in mind. Its intuitive interface guides users through the identification process, making it easy for beginners to get started. The app also offers field guides, range maps, and bird lists specific to different regions, enhancing the overall birdwatching experience. By providing a wealth of information at users’ fingertips, Merlin Bird ID fosters a deeper appreciation and understanding of avian life.

Merlin Bird ID Life List Examples


The Merlin Bird ID app exemplifies the transformative power of machine learning in education and wildlife appreciation. By leveraging advanced algorithms, it enables users to learn about and listen to birds with ease, breaking down barriers to entry for birdwatching. Whether you’re a seasoned birder or just starting, Merlin Bird ID empowers you to explore the avian world with confidence and curiosity, making birdwatching a more inclusive and enriching activity for all.

You can download the app here: Merlin Bird ID. What do you like the most about it? Let me know in the comments below and share this article with other bird lovers.

Credits: Some images are taken from