This App Will Let You ‘Shazam’ Birdsongs

It’s easy to write off morning birdsongs as a mundanity, or even a nuisance. But in truth, every sunrise beckons a veritable symphony, composed and performed by the winged wonders among us. Granted, if you live in a practically inhabitable wasteland like I do, you mostly just get pigeon coos. (Still, I love my pigeon neighbors and cherish every one of their baritone solos.) But if you live among plentiful nature, you may enjoy a bevvy of different types of chirps and tweets. And now, you’ll have a little help identifying who’s squawking what. The inspired minds at Cornell University have developed an app that can help identify birdsongs. Much in the way Shazam does with human songs!

Back in 2014, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology launched a smartphone app called Merlin. This program helped birdwatchers and birders—there’s a difference!—identify feathered finds by sight. (The functionality allowed for users to upload photos and input information about physique and behavior.) Now, as we’ve just seen over at DesignTaxi, the team has updated Merlin to incorporate a new feature. Users can record and upload birdsongs; the app will then (ideally) tell them what species of bird is responsible for the ditty.

Beatrice the bluebird spreads her wings in Over the Garden Wall.

Cartoon Network

Bird experts with a gifted ear may not need the aid of an app. But those of us only first spreading our wings will find a terrific ally in Merlin. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic gave way to a noticeable uptick in the popularity of birdwatching. Safe, lo-fi hobbies of the sort proved a reliable source of relaxation when other interests were rendered inaccessible. If you were one of the many who hopped on the birdwatching bandwagon, this app update could prove a great asset. And if you haven’t yet joined in on the fun, there’s no time like the present. We’ve still got birds! Watch ’em! And listen to ’em!

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