In December 2016, the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University in New York announced availability of the “Merlin Photo ID” application for mobile devices. The app allows users to submit a bird photograph to get an identification of the bird. Information is available online at http://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/.
This product works collaboratively with the Cornell Lab and National Audubon Society’s eBird project, online at http://ebird.org/content/ebird/. At that site, users can find locations of species observations made by contributors and can sign up to contribute their own observations. The Merlin Web site states that it “draws upon more than 370 million observations from the eBird citizen-science project.
The Merlin Photo ID release is well-timed to assist birders nationwide who will participate in the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count, an event that began in 1910 where volunteers record birds seen on one day anytime between December 14 and January 5 (more information is online at http://www.audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count; or in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, organized by Audubon and the Cornell Ornithology Lab, held each February (more information is online at http://gbbc.birdcount.org/). For an audio take on the history of the Christmas Bird Count, have a listen to Virginia Water Radio Episode 294 (12-14-15).