Merlin Bird Sound Identification


Jason Talbot
 

Hello,

I'm starting to get a lot of alerts from eBird about birds that are identified solely with the Merlin Bird Sound ID app based on comments. I think this is very bad practice and not accurate. I think newcomers to the birding world should realize it's a great tool to learn bird sounds and confirm some of your sightings but it is far from perfect or close to perfect. It gets a lot of birds correct which is pretty amazing, but you need a second confirmation for rarities.

It's a fun tool that I use frequently but it misidentifies a considerable number of birds. If you're around a lot of Yellow Warblers you'll eventually get a Chestnut-sided Warbler.. If you're around a lot of Lazuli Buntings you'll eventually get an Indigo Bunting. According to Merlin I've had a half-dozen sightings of both in the last month and they were wrong on all accounts as I watched the singing bird and see the bird light up in the app (in most cases anyway).

If I were going off the bird ID app, I'd have Eurasian Jay and a dozen other state birds for Idaho in the last month. I think it's a great app but please don't report rarities solely based on the Merlin Bird Sound ID app. It's off on local birds as well sometimes.

Regards,

Jason Talbot
Eagle, ID


Carl Lundblad
 

I agree whole-heartedly with Jason, but I would go even further.  For eBirding and other purposes, don't report ANY species based solely on the output of Merlin.  When installing the app, the very first thing the user sees is a disclaimer stating that the species listed by Merlin Sound ID are ONLY suggestions, to be independently verified by the user.  It is a great tool for learning and reinforcing bird songs and calls, but the provided IDs should never be taken as infallible, even for common species.  One of the fastest ways to get your eBird entries marked "unconfirmed" by your local eBird reviewer is to enter comments to the effect of "identified by Merlin".

Thanks, Jason, for bringing it up.

Good Birding,
Carl Lundblad

On Fri, Jun 17, 2022 at 9:24 AM Jason Talbot via groups.io <jason.talbot1=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
Hello,

I'm starting to get a lot of alerts from eBird about birds that are identified solely with the Merlin Bird Sound ID app based on comments. I think this is very bad practice and not accurate. I think newcomers to the birding world should realize it's a great tool to learn bird sounds and confirm some of your sightings but it is far from perfect or close to perfect. It gets a lot of birds correct which is pretty amazing, but you need a second confirmation for rarities.

It's a fun tool that I use frequently but it misidentifies a considerable number of birds. If you're around a lot of Yellow Warblers you'll eventually get a Chestnut-sided Warbler.. If you're around a lot of Lazuli Buntings you'll eventually get an Indigo Bunting. According to Merlin I've had a half-dozen sightings of both in the last month and they were wrong on all accounts as I watched the singing bird and see the bird light up in the app (in most cases anyway).

If I were going off the bird ID app, I'd have Eurasian Jay and a dozen other state birds for Idaho in the last month. I think it's a great app but please don't report rarities solely based on the Merlin Bird Sound ID app. It's off on local birds as well sometimes.

Regards,

Jason Talbot
Eagle, ID


bike4birds
 

I was standing by the Boise River, trying to figure out whether there were more than 2 kinds of swallows flying above me, using the Sound ID on Merlin. A friend walked up behind me and spoke, and Merlin said it had just heard a Great Horned Owl! No, it ain’t perfect.

Tom McCabe, Boise

 

From: IBLE@groups.io <IBLE@groups.io> On Behalf Of Jason Talbot via groups.io
Sent: Friday, June 17, 2022 10:24 AM
To: IBLE <ible@groups.io>
Subject: [IBLE] Merlin Bird Sound Identification

 

Hello,

 

I'm starting to get a lot of alerts from eBird about birds that are identified solely with the Merlin Bird Sound ID app based on comments. I think this is very bad practice and not accurate. I think newcomers to the birding world should realize it's a great tool to learn bird sounds and confirm some of your sightings but it is far from perfect or close to perfect. It gets a lot of birds correct which is pretty amazing, but you need a second confirmation for rarities.

 

It's a fun tool that I use frequently but it misidentifies a considerable number of birds. If you're around a lot of Yellow Warblers you'll eventually get a Chestnut-sided Warbler.. If you're around a lot of Lazuli Buntings you'll eventually get an Indigo Bunting. According to Merlin I've had a half-dozen sightings of both in the last month and they were wrong on all accounts as I watched the singing bird and see the bird light up in the app (in most cases anyway).

 

If I were going off the bird ID app, I'd have Eurasian Jay and a dozen other state birds for Idaho in the last month. I think it's a great app but please don't report rarities solely based on the Merlin Bird Sound ID app. It's off on local birds as well sometimes.

 

Regards,

 

Jason Talbot

Eagle, ID