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Who’s that singing? As fall migration arrives, apps that ID birds by sound have taken off

Posted in: In the Media

killdeer bird
A killdeer bird searches for food along a shoreline during a chilly wet spring day in Pembroke, N.Y., Tuesday, May 17, 2011. (AP Photo/David Duprey)

Before Merlin, I’d always assumed the distinct “coo” I heard was from a mourning dove. It’s an owl. Common rookie mistake.

Listening and watching birds has made me more aware of the times of day, and times of year, when certain birds become more active. Healthy environments too, of course, attract more birds.

You can see the seasons. You’re looking at birds but you can’t help but see everything else too. You see the entire ecosystem.

John Smallwood, an ornithology expert in the Department

Some bird-watchers upload their sightings into eBird, a scientific database that tracks avian populations, which have declined sharply overall in past decades.

“We know that people protect what they care about, and you really only care about what you know,” said Smith. “So Merlin is our way of making learning about birds available and accessible to everybody.”

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