Ever have a bird call that intrigues you or drives you nuts but you still want to know what it is? Well, there is an app for that.
Every now and then, an invention comes along that changes the way we enjoy birds. From the Peterson field guides to the tube seed feeder, there have been items that have made birding more satisfying. In 2021, along came a modern-day game-changer - a phone app that easily identifies birds by their song with extraordinary skill. Using novel computing, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology updated their Merlin Bird ID app to add near-perfect sound identification. On a spring morning in the backyard, when there is a chorus of song, this app will line item each individual bird singing in the group and when an identified bird sings again, it will highlight that species giving an instant visual of who is singing at that exact moment. It is nothing short of incredible. Having the auditory learning combined with the visual identification makes for a great way to memorize bird songs. Most birds have more than one song or call so this app helps sort out the confusion that can come from not knowing all the nuances of a species’ song vocabulary. The app is particularly helpful for identifying migrants that we often only briefly experience as they pass through our yards in the spring and fall so we have very little learned recollection of their songs. On the app, sound recordings can be saved with the location and the list of birds heard. With the amazing microphones on today’s smartphones, one can make a nice library of favorite bird songs or a nice memory of a special occasion that included a bird singing.
Winter wren singing on nesting territory at the beautiful Houghton Falls Natural Area in Washburn WI
Even if you are not a birder you will find this amazing and impressive. It is a fun tool to introduce a child or grandchild to birds by seeing how fast they can learn the songs by heart with the instant feedback proved by this app. Merlin Sound ID opens up a whole new world of appreciation of birds through the beauty of their song.
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