Birdwatching is a hobby that many people enjoy, but it can be challenging to identify the different species of birds that one encounters. That’s why Drew Weber, a bird-lover from Syracuse, decided to create Merlin Bird ID, a free app that helps users identify birds by using photos, sounds, and location data.
The Inspiration Behind Merlin Bird ID
Weber has always been fascinated by birds, and he started birdwatching when he was a teenager. He studied biology and ecology at Cornell University, where he also worked at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a world-renowned center for bird research and conservation. He learned a lot about birds and their behavior, and he wanted to share his knowledge with others.
He realized that many people who are interested in birds don’t have the skills or the tools to identify them accurately. He also noticed that there were not many user-friendly apps that could help them with that task. He decided to create Merlin Bird ID, an app that would use artificial intelligence and data from millions of bird observations to provide users with the most likely matches for the birds they see or hear.
The Features and Benefits of Merlin Bird ID
Merlin Bird ID is designed to be easy and fun to use. Users can either take a photo of a bird or record its sound, and the app will analyze the image or the audio and compare it with a database of over 7,500 bird species from around the world. The app will also use the user’s location and the date and time of the observation to narrow down the possible options. The app will then present the user with a list of the most likely candidates, along with photos, sounds, and information about each bird.
Users can also use the app to learn more about birds and their habitats. The app has a feature called Bird Packs, which allows users to download regional guides that contain detailed information about the birds that are common in their area. The app also has a feature called Explore Birds, which allows users to browse through the entire database of birds and discover new species and facts.
Merlin Bird ID is not only a useful tool for birdwatchers, but also a valuable source of data for scientists and conservationists. The app collects and stores the user’s observations, and shares them with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird project, which is a global network of bird enthusiasts who contribute to the scientific understanding and protection of birds. By using the app, users are helping to monitor the distribution and abundance of birds, and to identify the threats and challenges they face.
The Success and Future of Merlin Bird ID
Merlin Bird ID has been downloaded by tens of millions of people around the world, and it has received positive feedback and reviews from users and experts alike. The app has been praised for its accuracy, simplicity, and educational value, and it has been featured in many media outlets, such as The New Yorker, The Guardian, and National Geographic.
Weber and his team are constantly working to improve the app and to add new features and functions. They are also expanding the app’s coverage and reach, by adding more languages and more regions. They hope to make the app available to everyone who loves birds, and to inspire more people to appreciate and protect the natural world.