Birding Software Discovery

By Sue Ann Kendall

I’ve been having fun this weekend doing iNaturalist observations near Wimberley. I made over 100 observations and had a blast. I’ll share more about that later this week.

I’d seen some interesting birds, too, but was unable to get any photos other than this one.

Black vultures. Out of a screen window.

The black vultures were enjoying an armadillo across the road, and I got to listen to them croaking away, as well as to listen to their wings as they flew. Ah, peace and quiet.

Anyway, I was watching some little birds catching bugs and wondered what they were. It was hard to see through the screen, and I’d forgotten my binoculars. So, I fired up Merlin Bird ID, from Cornell Labs.

Sure enough, I realized quickly that they were little blue-gray gnatcatchers. I hit the “Yes, this is my bird” button and it asked me if I wanted to record it on eBird or your Cornell Labs Life List. Why, yes, I would!

Added to my brand-new list.

Those of you who use eBird might find this really handy. I love the Merlin software, because it helps you narrow down birds to ones that should be where you are and of similar size, color, and habit. That makes ID fun!

Here’s the starting screen.

Since there must have been dozens of phoebes, I made sure to record that one, too.

It’s cool that it shows you a map of where you are.

The Cornell folks also use the data we report for their research, but I don’t think it goes into the eBird database unless you report it to that account. I guess I should change over to get more hours, or maybe this way will count. They only added this feature this month!

This app is much more fun now! It’s great for beginning and intermediate birders. Recommend it to your friends who want an easy way to keep a life list.

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