If you can’t tell the difference between a White-Breasted Nuthatch and a Blue jay, we’re ashamed of you. You probably could use the “Merlin Bird ID” app from the Cornell University Ornithology Lab. Non-smart phone owners can skip the app and get the information they want from AllAboutBirds.org.
The app is handy when you’re out in the field discovering new birds and is free for iPhone and Android. It asks you a few simple questions about the bird you just saw. Check off the silhouette that more closely resembles the bird, ranging from tiny like a sparrow to large like a goose. Don’t forget to check off what the bird was doing, whether lounging in a bush or walking around honking. The app will show you a few photos of birds, one of which is likely the one you saw, complete with bird facts and a bird call you and the fowl can hear on your phone.
It’s not magic, despite the Merlin name, but is based on millions of sightings by birders around the world. The app knows your location, so it knows what birds you’re likely to see. If you have friends into this too, you might enjoy using the app to share your discoveries with them.