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.
• Customized lists of birds to find where you live or travel
• Merlin was created by bird experts for everyone.
• Merlin is global—look up any bird at any location.
• Keep track of your sightings—linked to eBird, a global database of more than 1 billion bird observations!

• Powered by Visipedia, Merlin Sound ID and Photo ID uses deep 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.
• It’s available in your language. Merlin is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Hebrew, German, Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Marathi, Malayalam, Afrikaans, Arabic, Indonesian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s goal is to help you and millions of others to learn about birds. Our nonprofit mission to improve the understanding and protection of birds and nature is made possible by the generosity of Cornell Lab members, supporters, and citizen-science contributors.

What’s New

Version 2.1.8

We’re excited to announce our latest update, with new features to make exploring your saved Sound ID recordings even more fun!

• Tap to cycle through multiple Sound ID results for a bird
Now, when you tap on a bird in your Sound ID recordings, you can cycle through multiple results for that bird. This is a great way to compare different results and find the one that you’re most confident in.

• Sound ID results are highlighted in Playback mode
We’ve also made it easier to explore your Sound ID recordings by highlighting the singing birds, same as the live recording. This makes it easy to see which birds are singing and to identify and learn the songs and calls.

• Sound ID recordings are backed up to iCloud
Finally, we’ve added iCloud backup support for Sound ID recordings. This means that your recordings will be automatically backed up to iCloud, so you can restore them if you ever update to a new device.
We hope you enjoy these new features! If you have any feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Thanks for using Sound ID!

Ratings and Reviews

4.9 out of 5
63.9K Ratings

63.9K 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.

Jimmyjummy69 ,

Amazing tool, but a few minuscule issues

This app is amazing. I use it every time I go bird watching, and it is far more efficient than most of the manuals I own. However, it is not without its minor faults.
The first and most blaring is the fact that Isee many birds with many more than only 3 colors, and when I see birds with only 3 or less colors they might be different colors than I have the options I have to pick from! I understand that there are limitations that make it difficult, but the app would be that closer to perfect if you added more colors and the option to pick more than three colors.
The other issue is that on a very slim chance I cant find the bird im looking for! This is for the most part my fault, but I think that sometimes it is because the bird isn’t on the list of birds registered on the app. It could also be because of the pictures of the birds do not include all or most variations of the bird I see, so I cannot confirm my sighting. If the roster of birds was filled up more, and there was more pictures, then all of those problems would be solved!
It is such a great app with such great features and it almost never fails me. The only issues it has are so minor, or could be fixed in an update soon, that it makes them nearly irrelevant. Because of all of this the app is virtually perfect, and i recommend all bird watchers newbies and veterans alike to download this app.

Kristen266 ,

Great free app.

This is a fun and easy to use bird ID app. Generally I know the birds in my area but I don’t know all their calls and some birds are similar. Once you’ve recorded and stop, you can click on the green arrows and there are examples of all their calls (though some alarm calls are missing). On a early spring morning when birds are chatty and finding mates, I’ve picked up 17 birds. However, I think two of them were really a Mockingbird imitating a Purple Martin and Kildeer on the shoreline and I hadn’t seen either. So, it’s good to listen to a Mockingbird’s own sounds and if a bird you haven’t seen comes up quickly with the Mockingbird, it may not be Merlin’s fault.

It did pick up the sound of my door opening as a Loon but we don’t have any. When signing up, when you choose the pack it’s good to choose your area so there are less mistakes. The photo ID works pretty well so far. When you explore birds in the app, some birds say rare that really aren’t, e.g. Mergansers have become common in the winters here mostly in brackish waters. It’s possible that it might mix up juvenile hawks that all have white breasts with brown drippy markings. You can go to Cornell Lab’s website and learn how to recognize their differences, the length of their tail feathers being one way.

It’s helpful and fun and surprisingly picks up bird sounds even when there’s traffic noise.

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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