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Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s free Merlin Bird ID app can now recognize the voices of 685 species from North America and Europe, plus a mix of common neotropical birds. The AI-powered sound identification function can extract a probable identification regardless of a bird’s song or call, even if many species are vocalizing at the same time.
The lists of bird sounds supported in the app overlap to some extent as some birds are found on both continents. The app can recognize 492 birds that regularly occur in the United States and Canada, and if you include species that occasionally appear in North America, the number is 560 species.
Merlin can also identify 248 species regularly present in Europe. The complete list of 685 species is displayed here.
An update was rolled out yesterday (April 18) for iOS devices and will be available for Android devices in a few weeks.
The numbers are likely to grow in the coming years.
A screenshot of Merlin’s Songs and Calls of Eastern Meadowlark.
“Merlin’s Sound ID opens up a whole new way to enjoy nature that produces not just one magical moment but many,” said Jessie Barry, Macaulay Library Program Manager at Cornell Lab. “It really feels like magic when you associate a mysterious sound with the name of the bird that produces it.”
Merlin makes it easy to identify birds as they sing. Just hold your phone, press the Sound ID button, and Merlin shows you the name of each bird it detects in real time, along with a photo to help you pick up the ID.
“Not only do you get the thrill of identifying birds with Merlin, but you can learn more about each bird with identification tips, range maps, and over 80,000 photos and sounds from Cornell Lab’s Macaulay Library. “, said Drew Weber, project leader of Merlin. “People are really blown away by Merlin’s ability and depth. In addition to sound identification, Merlin can also identify birds if you upload a photo or answer five questions about the bird you saw.
Merlin’s precise, instant answers are made possible by machine learning technology and by the millions of birders who share their sightings with eBird. Cornell Lab engineers trained Merlin Sound ID using 750,000 recordings of bird sounds from birdwatchers.
“Revolutionary technological advances are part of the magic behind Merlin,” said Grant Van Horn, research engineer at Cornell Lab. “But it’s experienced birders who make it all possible by contributing to eBird’s global database.”
“This combination of technology and human power has opened up a whole new bridge to the natural world,” Weber said. “It helps people of all ages become more involved in understanding and enjoying the outdoors and hopefully inspires them to protect the places people and wildlife share.”
The Cornell Lab shared these comments about Merlin from users:
“The app is transforming birding, especially for novices like me. I had a great time, finally I was able to identify birds that I hear all the time but can’t see because of the dense foliage.
“For those of us who have a hearing disability, Sound ID is transformative. It is a technology that can change the lives of people who, until now, have been denied access to a whole dimension of the natural world.
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