Part of the mission of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is to help people answer the question, “What is that bird?” And so, in collaboration with the Visipedia research project, they've designed Merlin, a free app available on iTunes and Google Play.
The app asks you a few basic questions -- what's the color, size, and behavior of the bird you saw, and also when and where did you see it -- and then, drawing on a database of information gathered by Cornell experts and thousands of bird enthusiasts, the app will give you a shortlist of possibilities. From there you can zero in on the actual bird you saw.
The free app (introduced in the video above) launched with "285 species most commonly encountered in North America." But Cornell plans to add more species and features over time. Meanwhile, the current app already offers "more than 2,000 stunning images taken by top photographers," "more than 1,000 audio recordings from the Macaulay Library, identification tips from experts, and range maps from the Birds of North America Online."
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Dan Colman is the founder/editor of Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox.