Cornell Lab eNews: Happy Birding This New Year With Our Free ID App 1-9-2014

Cornell Lab eNews

January 2014

Download our free Merlin Bird ID app for iPhone and iOS7

Click image to watch a short video about how the app works.

Introducing Merlin Bird ID: A New Kind of Birding App

Information overload is the bane of the beginning bird watcher—as anyone knows who has ever flipped through 40 species of sparrows in a field guide. What if an app could quickly tell you which birds are most likely based on your location, date, and a brief description? Not just which birds theoretically could occur near you, but which birds are actually reported most often by other birders. That’s what Merlin Bird ID does. And it’s free—because we want to make bird watching easier for everyone.

Merlin Bird ID covers 285 of the most common birds of North America (with more on the way). In addition to help with ID, it contains expert tips, more than 1,400 gorgeous photos, and sounds for each species. It’s available now for iPhone and other iOS7 devices, and it’s coming soon for Android.

Do you know which species this is?

Do you know the name of this yellow, green, and black seed-eater? Photo by Collins Cochran via Birdshare.

Which Species Is This?

Our latest mystery bird is a little yellow, a little green, and sometimes a little black. These small, primarily Western birds sing songs that include snippets mimicked from other species. Breeding males are distinctive, but in winter you might overlook them at your feeders, thinking they are another kind of American gold. Do you know what species this is? Check your guess and learn more.

Test yourself with more quiz photos: The above photo features a helpful shot of a bright breeding male. Want to see some more challenging plumages? Test your wits against this set from Project FeederWatch. How many can you get?

Evergreen holiday wreaths can double as winter shelter for birds.

A nice winter feeding station by Linda Roa via Project FeederWatch.

Your Holiday Greenery Can Double as Winter Bird Habitat

in January and February, with no leaves on deciduous trees, shelter can be hard to come by. That’s when birds turn to evergreens, whose dense needles offer protection from heavy precipitation and wind. Right now, you can breathe new life into your holiday wreaths and boughs by placing them near feeders and birdbaths. Read our full set of tips on making a welcoming winter garden—the birds will thank you.

Top 10 Green Garden Books: If the weather outside is frightful, escape to warmer days by planning your spring garden. Our YardMap project suggests these great books for green gardens as inspiration.

Video: Golden Eagle flying through snow in Wyoming

A Quiet Moment in the Snow—With a Very Large Eagle

Our Multimedia program is working on a documentary about the great sagebrush ecosystems of the American West. Tying together the many strands of that story is one of the region’s top predators, the Golden Eagle. On a filming expedition last fall, as a morning snowstorm descended on the gray-green plains of Wyoming, we captured a brief moment with one of these majestic predators. Watch it.

Get Ready for a Global Bird Count: The Great Backyard Bird Count happens this coming February 14–17. Participation is free and open to anyone, anywhere in the world. We hope you’ll join us!
Birding Goes Mainstream? A lengthy article in USA Today says 2014 is the year for bird watching—and makes a pretty good case.
Share Photos and Win: Enter photos, stories, or artwork by Jan. 15 in our Fascinating Feathers challenge, or check out our BirdSpotter contest with new weekly themes through Feb. 24.
Giving the Gift of Data: Over the holidays, Cornell Lab scientist Caren Cooper described for the CitizenSci blog how doing citizen science is like giving gifts to needy scientists.
Take a Road Trip: Our Upcoming Bird Festivals webpage makes it easy to plan your next birding destination. You can look through listings by calendar or on a map, so you can start planning your road trip right from the page.

Create a Legacy for Birds

Learn how to make a planned gift to the Cornell Lab
Northern Cardinal by Phil Haber.
A great way to create a legacy for birds is to include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in your will. A bequest allows you to maximize use of your funds today while providing for the Lab tomorrow.  And modifying your will to provide a legacy for birds is easy. Some of the benefits:

  • A bequest provision will create a lasting legacy for birds.
  • Your bequest will not be subject to potential federal estate taxes.
  • You may designate how you’d like your bequest to be used and you may change it at any time.

For more information, visit our Legacy for Birds website, call Scott Sutcliffe at 607-254-2424, or send an email to

Find Us on Facebook: If you’re on Facebook but don’t follow us yet—please join our community of 172,000 fans for a daily dose of bird quizzes, gorgeous videos, fascinating articles, and tons of photos.
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Attention Educators: Check Out These Resources

Attend a special free webinar on Jan 20.
Free Webinar Jan. 20: Feeding birds can spark kids’ curiosity, interest in the outdoors, and engagement with science. Learn how to make feeders, identify birds, and more in our free Feeding Our Feathered Friends webinar, Jan. 20 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.

The Ordinary Extraordinary Junco is a series of free, short videos and teacher resources produced by scientists at Indiana University. They’ve studied the birds for decades, and their excellent videos cover myriad science-standards-related topics.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at

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Photos on flickr