App: Merlin Bird ID
Background: Merlin Bird ID is an app that acts as a bird identification tool (Cornell University, 2017). This smartphone application allows user to identify birds that they see, based on a few questions (Cornell University, 2017). Users have access to 650 bird species in Canada and the United States (Cornell University, 2017). This app has recently added a photo function but I didn't try that aspect of the application.
My experience: I used this app to identify several birds, including one that lives in a tree right outside my apartment. Apparently my neighbor is a Stellar’s Jay! I recommended this app to my mom who has bird feeder with several visitors that she hasn’t been able to identify.
This application is so, so easy to use! I was asked a series of questions to help identify my bird, such as my location, the date, the size of the bird relative to several other birds, the colors of the bird, and what the bird was doing. Then the app came up with a list of birds matching my provided description. Each bird has several pictures that show the male, the female, breeding plumage (if applicable), and juvenile plumage. My favorite part is that each bird description includes recordings of their calls!
Merlin Bird ID definitely increased my knowledge of local bird species. In addition to the photo and call that describe each bird, this app also gives a description of each species and includes whether or not the bird is uncommon. The app told me that my neighbor (the Stellar’s Jay) is a frequent visitor to bird feeders (Cornell University, 2017) so I make sure to keep my feeder fully stocked.
Nature/Conservation Connection: 5/5
This app has a clear connection to nature and conservation. Merlin Bird ID encourages users to get to know the birds around them and when people learn more about something they’re more likely to care for it. Like the application Clean Swell (see my review), this app might also motivate people to get into nature (or even simply outside) and learn about its inhabitants.
Cornell University. (2017). Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab of Ornithology on the App Store. Retrieved
February 24, 2017, from https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/merlin-bird-id-by-cornell-lab-of-