Identify Birdsong With Merlin ID

American redstart singing (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

30 June 2021

Before the birds stop singing this summer, you’ll want to try the new Sound ID feature in Cornell Lab’s Merlin ID app. The enhancement was rolled out last week and it’s impressive. You can identify a bird in the field as well as the birds singing nearby.

I tried Sound ID on one of the harder warbler songs, the American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) shown at top, using this recording. Merlin identified the redstart immediately.

Then I tried a tricky mimic, the northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos), using this Findlay Township recording by Aidan Place. Merlin called it a brown thrasher (oops) and then identified the songs the mockingbird was mimicking. Understandable. I do that too.

Northern mockingbird wing-flash while singing (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

If you play a recording of a bird that can’t be where you are right now — for instance a grasshopper sparrow in the City of Pittsburgh on 30 June — the app’s recording feature will not identify it. However you can Import the recording and see who’s singing. It always shows the sonogram, even for high pitched birds, so I can “see” the birds I cannot hear.

Download the app at and try it for yourself.

screenshot of Merlin Sound ID from

Birding has just gotten a lot easier.

p.s. Missing something? Cornell Lab will add more birds in future updates.

(photos from Wikimedia Commons, screenshot from; click on the captions to see the originals)

3 thoughts on “Identify Birdsong With Merlin ID

  1. Haven’t tried it yet, but definitely will. What a great app. Thanks for sharing this news.
    Always learning something new from your blog.

  2. How cool! And perhaps one day, maybe “visual” recognition? (In the same way smartphone astronomy apps can “identify” stars/constellations?)

  3. I love this app Kate, I use it a lot and learned about it from YOU. Thanks for letting us know about the sound ID!

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