[Tweeters] I've become addicted to the Merlin app audio section
bradliljequist at msn.com
Tue May 17 17:59:07 PDT 2022
This app is truly incredible. It does serve to reinforce my opinion of myself as an entrenched multi-decadal intermediate birder 🙂; however, I can see how it would quickly reinforce fast learning - I find learning hands on in the field to be much better and more effective than listening to things on tape. Right now, however, I'm somewhat shocked to realize how much I'm missing what it comes to birdsong supporting birding (especially during migration). I will go ahead and share these anecdotes knowing they also highlight my non-master-birder status - but guessing many here will appreciate.
Last Saturday we were walking in Discovery Park, moving towards Capehart from the Utah Wetland, and saw nor heard anything significant - but I noticed "Black-headed Grosbeak" pop up on the Merlin bird song list. Without really paying much attention, I had "heard" a Robin. But yes - there on the top of a fir was a Black-headed Grosbeak. I rather proudly shared my discovery ("did you get the...") with some fellow birders we'd crossed paths with, and they rejoiced in a FOY. Wow, I thought. Cool.
Then Sunday, before my wife got sick of me being completely entranced by my new toy, we were in Woodland Park and I was just letting the app roll and a bit later I noticed "Hutton's Vireo" pop up. Huh...didn't hear anything unusual. But I pressed on the Vireo on the app and it went right back to the part of the tape where the Vireo was singing - I'd missed it.
Yesterday, however, nearly made my head explode. I was doing a full circuit of Woodland Park, and along the south edge, I saw and heard some Juncos doing their Junco thing, chipping, trilling, etc. I was looking at the group and pointing my mike at the group and suddenly "Chipping Sparrow" popped up on the screen. Aha! I thought, there's a flaw - I actually was rather smugly contemplating sending a correction to Cornell. The Juncos flew off, another trill sounded, and lo and behold a beautiful sparrow with a russet crown emerged, trilling for its life in full view (and sounding to me every bit a junco). Yes - a Chipping Sparrow!
Moving then through the Park, I got to the north end habitat funnel by the lawn bowling (always a great place to pick up birds, where they are compressed between the lake and SR99 as they move north). "Chipping Sparrow" alighted on the screen, and I went searching - and there indeed was a Chipping Sparrow in plain sight (I believe but not sure different than first). Then, an Orange Crowned Warbler popped up on screen. I was unfamiliar with its trill - and then saw the bird. So there yesterday afternoon there was a symphony of trills - junco, Orange-Crowned, and Chipping - all with their slightly different calls. Absolutely wonderful, and I have to admit in the past, moving quickly, I might have said, yup, juncos.
The app is not perfect. A squeeky dog toy yesterday read as a Red Throated Loon. I went in search of a Western Wood Pewee yesterday only to find a Towhee, and the app alternating ID'ed as one then the other. So you do have to verify. I'm sure it will get more accurate as time goes on.
A final note - it does work pretty well just on its own on the phone - but I bought a small directional mic that is not too huge - a Sennheiser MKE400 - that I mounted on a hand grip from Amazon - and it seems to raise the effectiveness of the whole thing a worthwhile amount (for the time being I am forgoing the full on geekdom of a parabolic mike...but never say never).
Check it out!
Brad Liljequist, couch migration birding in...
...and enjoying 2 W Tanagers, and orange crowned warbler, and a B-29 from the living room...
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