[Tweeters] The Future of Bird ID
wallydavis3 at gmail.com
Sun Nov 5 16:49:17 PST 2017
I heartily second this. I just made a trip to Mexico and encountered many
birds I hadn't seen before. I'd take a photo with my Canon using a
telephoto lens then use my phone to take a picture of the display on the
back of the Canon. The ability of Merlin to identify birds was really
From: tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu
[mailto:tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Teri
Sent: Sunday, November 5, 2017 11:28 AM
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Subject: [Tweeters] The Future of Bird ID
FYI, interesting post from Noah Strycker on Oregon Birders On Line (OBOL) --
From: Noah Strycker <noah.strycker at gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 4 Nov 2017 20:24:06 -0700
Subject: [obol] The Future of Bird ID
David's query ("Bird ID please"), with links to three photos of a mystery
raptor in California, inspired me to try a little test.
Note: If you haven't downloaded Merlin, the bird ID app from Cornell, do it
now! (I have no commercial interest in the app, and only recently tried it
for the first time. It's free.)
I clicked on David's first link, a photo of a brownish hawk in flight - one
that would probably confuse a lot of birders. Then, using my phone, I took
a snapshot of that picture as it was displayed on my computer monitor (a
horribly pixillated way to transfer the image to my phone, but fast).
I opened the Merlin app on my phone, tapped "Photo ID," selected that
picture, chose "I don't know" when it asked the location and date, and...
it told me it was a Swainson's Hawk. I tried it with the second image, and
Merlin again guessed that the bird was a Swainson's Hawk. (Which it is.)
The whole process took less than a minute.
That's pretty radical! Merlin will now identify any species of North
American bird (including Mexico) with a click, and it's amazingly accurate.
I tried it on fall warblers, sparrows, and juvenile shorebirds, and Merlin
got them all right. Then I gave it photos of Black-capped and Carolina
chickadees, with no hints about location, and it nailed those, too. It
correctly identified a bird painting on my wall, and told me that the
Oregon Birding Association's logo depicts a Hermit Warbler. It's not
infallible - I was finally able to stump it with a picture of a stuffed
Labrador Duck (not in the database, apparently!).
Who knows? Maybe the next generation of birding optics will have these
algorithms built in. The technology is already here. Once you download the
app, it works offline, too.
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