Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Backyard Birding with Merlin

I've mentioned before that sitting outside here in the warming season and gazing about while typing is a favorite past time of mine. Along with the visual glories, there also comes a symphony of sounds--those human-made ones from the neighborhood and the busy street not far away, and also a bounty of birdcalls come sounding down on me from our tree-lined back yard. The bird feeder that my husband and son religiously refill also makes us a local hot-spot with our feathered friends.

On a beautiful day, I'd rather be outside than in front of our television and its full DVR or faced with the endless possibilities of Amazon Prime and Netflix. Now, with more of us at home than before, seems like I might not be the only one based on this Dan Friedell article I ran across: "Tired of Netflix? Birds Provide a Show Right Outside Your Quarantine Window"

As he details, this is the season for returning birds, he also mentioned that (of course) "there's an app for that." And who better to be from than Cornell's Lab of Ornithology. The app, Merlin, is your helpful, handy, pocket birding coach created for beginner and intermediate birders. Not only can you list descriptors to help you identify your newest flying friend, but there's also a photo ID feature built in. Additionally, you can download bird packs for your geographical region. Given they have content for over 6,200 bird types, narrowing down your local finds is a must. Once you start going through the descriptors, you can also click a speaker on the app for each bird for further identification by way its birdsong & bird call. I think my feathered-fellows this morning were a type of sparrow--House, Song, or maybe Chipping. It was quick, and still being a newbie, it was one of my first go arounds!

Merlin is a powerful resource right in your phone. Ultimately, it may serve as a good gateway to unplugging!!

Speaking of which....I have a cardinal hopping on my fence...gotta go and be a bird watcher!

Photo from my phone, and Merlin logo from

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