App helps you ID birds with just 5 questions

Getting started with birdwatching can be frustrating. If you know nothing about birds, bird books are overwhelming. Where do you even starts?

Merlin, A new app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, can help make identifying birds a lot easier.

You pull up the app and then answer five questions:

  • Where did you see the bird?
  • When did you see the bird?
  • What size was the bird? (You can pick on scale.)
  • What were the main colors? (You can pick up to three colors.)
  • What was the bird doing? (You pick from a list of options.)

The app makes it incredibly simple to get through these questions. It takes less than a minute to get a list of likely birds. Each bird has a photo, and most birds have several photos, showing males, females and juveniles.

I used it recently. I was able to identify a golden-crowned kinglet I saw at the Woodland Park Zoo and a bufflehead at Ebey’s Landing.

Once you find the bird you were looking for, you can click “This is my bird.” That data helps teach Merlin what birds are where. The app already has data on what birds are seen where, making it more accurate.

The app includes 285 birds, and more will be added. For now, the app is only available for Apple devices, although they are working on a version for Android and a version that will be web-based.

The app is free. You do, however, have to give them your email address. You can try out the app for five days to decide if you like it. If you do, give them your email address and you can keep using it. They’ll send you occasional emails about what the Cornell Lab is up to. You’re welcome to unsubscribe from the email list.

More in Life

Take a closer look: Winter gardens share gifts in subtle way

Go on a neighborhood walk this month to enjoy the seasonal beauty offered by a variety of gardens.

Jesse Sykes brings her evolving sounds to Cafe Zippy in Everett

She and Phil Wandscher make a return trip to a club that she values for its intimacy.

Compost: It’s what every gardener really wants for Christmas

A pile of decomposed and recycled organic matter is the gardener’s gift that keeps on giving.

Need a centerpiece? Plant paper-whites for December beauty

The white flowering plant brings the garden indoors in winter, even if the bulbs were never outside.

Great Plant Pick: Pinus contorta var. contorta, shore pine

What: Who is not impressed by the beauty and toughness of this… Continue reading

Red wine usually costs more, but you can still find bargains

Here are five good-quality reds that won’t drain your grocery budget.

Beer of the Week: Skull Splitter and Blood of My Enemies

Aesir Meadery of Everett and Whiskey Ridge Brewing of Arlington collaborated to make two braggots.

Beer, wine, spirits: Snohomish County booze calendar

Ugly Sweater Party and Canned Food Drive at Whitewall: Marysville’s Whitewall Brewing… Continue reading

Student winners to perform concertos with Mukilteo orchestra

This annual show is a partnership with the Snohomish County Music Teachers Association.

Most Read