Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab 4+

Identify Birds You See & Hear

Cornell University

Designed for iPhone

    • Free

iPhone Screenshots


What's that bird? Ask Merlin—the world’s leading app for birds. Just like magic, Merlin Bird ID will help you solve the mystery.

Merlin Bird ID helps you identify birds you see and hear. Merlin is unlike any other bird app—it's powered by eBird, the world’s largest database of bird sightings, sounds, and photos.

Merlin offers four fun ways to identify birds. Answer a few simple questions, upload a photo, record a singing bird, or explore birds in a region.

Whether you’re curious about a bird you’ve seen once or you’re hoping to identify every bird you can find, the answers are waiting for you with this free app from the renowned Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

• Expert ID tips, range maps, photos, and sounds help you learn about the birds you spot and build birding skills.
• Discover a new bird species each day with your own personalized Bird of the Day
• Get customized lists of birds you can find where you live or travel - anywhere in the world!
• Keep track of your sightings—build your personal list of the birds you find

• Powered by Visipedia, Merlin Sound ID and Photo ID uses machine learning to identify birds in photos and sounds. Merlin learns to recognize bird species based on training sets of millions of photos and sounds collected by birders at, archived in the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
• Merlin delivers the most accurate results thanks to experienced birders, who curate and annotate sightings, photos, and sounds, who are the true magic behind Merlin.

• Choose bird packs that contain photos, songs, and calls, and identification help for anywhere in the world, including Mexico, Costa Rica, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, Australia, Korea, Japan, China, and more.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s mission is to interpret and conserve the Earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds and nature. We are able to offer Merlin for free thanks to the generosity of Cornell Lab members, supporters, and citizen-science contributors.

What’s New

Version 3.2

Location, Location, Location!
Approximate Location Magic: Merlin now works its wonders with just an approximate location. Easier to start, smoother to use!
No Location? No Worries! Even without location data, you can set your spot on the map and let Merlin do its thing, providing top-notch answers every time.

Smoother Messaging
Sound ID Enhancements: We’ve polished our messaging for areas where Sound ID isn’t supported, giving you clearer info and a better user experience.

Upgrade to 3.2 now and dive into a more flexible, privacy-friendly, and user-centric Merlin!

Ratings and Reviews

4.9 out of 5
96.2K Ratings

96.2K Ratings

Tory Mathis ,

Loads of fun

Let me begin by stating I never use the original function of describing the bird I see. If I can see it that we’ll, chances are I can identify it without Merlin. The same goes with the photo ID feature—if I can get close enough and get a good enough look , I can ID the bird as well as Merlin can. I have tested out the photo ID, and I believe it would be a useful tool for beginners. Be aware that it’s not perfect: it has just as hard a time distinguishing between sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks as I do. Where the app really shines is in the sound ID. At first I was a little skeptical. One of the first times I used it it thought that one bird was both a common raven and an American crow. Same thing with some gulls. It thought there was both a California and Herring gull. I eventually found one I could call a California, the Herring gull never materialized. It also thought there was a tundra swan, but upon reviewing the recording, there was nothing there, and definitely no swan within my sight. The more I have used it, however, the more confident I become in its ID power. Generally, if Merlin disagrees with what I thought the sound was, I’ll try to track it down and find it. And more often than not, I find what Merlin told me was there. But the most fun I have had with this app was watching a northern mockingbird singing while Merlin picked out thirteen different bird songs that one mockingbird had learned and incorporated into its repertoire.

Scuba Nonna ,

Great for a beginner like me

I love birds and want to learn more about them. I have been hesitant to join birdwatchers as I’ve heard via birder email lists the experienced birders can be impatient and critical of newbies and also make it hard for newbies to join any groups. It’s like breaking into a click. That said, I felt I needed to learn before I even got started so I tried Merlin ID. I have used all 3 tools and find each one useful. I’m most excited about the sound ID though. This app is not perfect and you should question a match that seems questionable, like if it gives you a “rare” match. Do some research by listening to the call options to see if the match is authentic. This app also doesn’t recognize every bird. But, when there isn’t a match just submit the recording to Merlin so they can further improve the app. It is constantly improving and can only do that if we all help out. One day, I heard a bird but couldn’t see it. The sound tool identified the bird so then I knew what to look for and sure enough, I was able to visually identify said bird! I was super excited and encouraged. I also enjoy reading about each bird, the various photos and learning the different calls and songs. I’ve begun to share this with my daughter and grandkids when we take walks. My grandson lights up when he is able to see photos of the birds he is hearing and he’s only 2.5. Fun for the whole family!

Papaboy the Birder ,

Changed my life. Seriously.

This app opened my eyes to the world around me. I was never into birds before. I started using it after moving to a more wooded neighborhood in Nashville because I’d never heard so many birds and just wanted to see what was making all these sounds. I was shocked at the numbers of birds around me that I’d never taken the time to see or hear. Thanks to Merlin, I can now identify at least 20 birds by their songs and calls alone and I never knew how happy that would make me. More importantly, and totally unexpectedly, it helped me develop a daily mindfulness routine that was missing in my life before. I have a high stress job in healthcare. Merlin taught me to completely quiet my mind before and after work by being still, listening, and watching. I’d gotten so bogged down by life and stress that many of the little joys and wonders around me had become invisible. That’s no longer the case. Merlin has enriched my life and contributed to my well being and health in a way that sounds incredibly corny and fluffy to describe but it’s absolutely true. Now I’m proudly that weirdo who stops in the parking lot, looks up, and says “there’s a red shouldered hawk somewhere around here.” And it makes me smile before I keep walking to do whatever I need to do that day, a little more amazed by something beautiful in the world. Thank you Cornell and everyone who made this possible.

App Privacy

The developer, Cornell University, indicated that the app’s privacy practices may include handling of data as described below. For more information, see the developer’s privacy policy.

Data Linked to You

The following data may be collected and linked to your identity:

  • Identifiers

Data Not Linked to You

The following data may be collected but it is not linked to your identity:

  • Location
  • Contact Info
  • Usage Data

Privacy practices may vary, for example, based on the features you use or your age. Learn More

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