Who Is Merlin, and Why Is He at Breakfast?

— Written By Darlene Berry and last updated by

Merlin is an awesome app from Cornell Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University. It helps me answer the crucial question, ‘What is that bird?’  It is a great coach for the beginning and  intermediate bird watcher. The format is easy to use and it immediately shaped my observation skills. The simplest observation about a bird is the first step to using this identification tool. The use of this tool and a child observer make a great pair looking out the window, walking around the yard, or travelling into the woods on an adventure.

4-H Program Assistant, Lisa Deal provides school enrichment to elementary and middle school classroom interested in learning more about our environment. She is known for toting pumpkins into classrooms to teach about the parts of a plant, arranging farm animal visits, embryology, and entomology. This past year she began incorporating resources from the Cornell Lab into the winter lessons about birds. Sharing this resource encouraged family bird watching and immediately engaged children in becoming bird watchers.

Merlin has convinced me that we can all become bird watchers. It’s a fun way to learn and interact with our environment. As much as my family and I enjoy our Saturday morning breakfast together, scattering bird seed on the deck to attract birds adds a special element. We are eager for the birds to come and wait for them by sharing stories about our grandparents who first introduced us to feeding the birds. It seems that all the elements of being in a family tuned into the environment come together during that time at our table watching the birds.

If you are wondering about birds that come to your feeder or citizen science; the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a perfect first step www.birds.cornell.edu. If you are interested in how we can all benefit or participate in citizen science;  I recommend Merlin! http://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/  Be sure to use the volume with this app. It contains over 1,000 audio recordings!