An image of a Wilson's warbler sitting on a tree branch.  A new app from the Cornell lab of ornithology called Merlin Bird ID can help identify birds in the field with only five easy observations.

Today’s column is for those out there who can’t tell a phoenix from a griffin.

Those are birds all right, but they are mythical ones. Nonetheless, there are plenty of birds around — and they may as well be phoenixes or griffins for all the knowledge many people have about them.

And this is where Merlin Bird ID comes in. It’s a tremendously helpful app (available for iOS and android systems). It’s free, produced by the Cornell Lab of ornithology with the goal of improving and protecting birds in nature.

You might see a bird you know little about, but you can make five simple observations and tell Merlin about them. The app will need the location and date sighted, the size and color, and the bird’s behavior.


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