FREE shipping over $150 and FREE returns

FREE shipping over $150 and FREE returns on all orders

Your cart

Your cart is empty

How to Master Bird ID-ing in Muskoka

Spring Is For The Birds!

Now that the weather is becoming milder, I start every morning outside. I head out to the veranda with a hot mug of black coffee, wrap myself and my dog up in a soft berber blanket, and sit back to enjoy the beautiful sounds and sights of nature.

I've noticed over the last few weeks that the birds of spring are back in our neighbourhood, and it's all very exciting!

We are very fortunate to have such diversity here in Muskoka, as we are a breeding ground for a large number of birds who travel south for the winter months. This time of the year is the best for birdwatching (in my opinion). With so many returning species, and with no leaves on the trees to obscure the view, it's not difficult to spot a flash of colour or some movement above.

Vintage Hues Collection - Pure Muskoka
Vintage Hues Collection - Pure Muskoka

With the ice out of the lakes, we can welcome back some of our favourite water birds as well. I'm sure that every Pure Muskokan can agree, there is nothing quite as beautiful and haunting as the sound of a loon call echoing across the water. Personally, it never fails to make me pause and consider how fortunate I am to live in this amazing place.

Bird IDing in Muskoka

Now, I'm no expert, but I've spent years observing and attempting to ID birds as I see and hear them. Of course, there are numerous common birds that we all know and love, but as you start to look harder and listen more, you will notice a diversity here that you might never have known existed. It's actually kind of mind-blowing!

I have used a number of different bird ID books for reference over the years. And of course, over the last couple of decades, internet searches have made it that much easier. However, I still encounter challenges when trying to cross-reference a bird I've seen, whether from a photo or memory, and then locating a similar-looking bird online.

Well, over the last year, I have discovered a secret tool that makes ID-ing a piece of cake and I have to tell everyone that doesn't already know about it!

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has developed a great app called Merlin, which instantly identifies birds of all kinds, from all over the world. What Merlin does is identify birds in real time based on their call which the app will auto detect when you have it running. It then sends the date and location back to the Cornell lab for their research and and you get to know exactly what birds are you your immediate proximity. All based on their call. While not perfect, it does a pretty amazing job of catching and identifying quite a lot of birds around us.

Oh, and hey....It's free!

Merlin App - Cornell University

When you open the app on your smartphone or tablet, you're greeted with four options: "Sound ID," "Step by Step ID," "Photo ID," and "My Sound Recordings."

"Sound ID" listens to bird calls and matches them with recordings within its database. This is an amazing way to ID birds while on a hike, or sitting outside having your morning coffee, etc. There have been moments when I've had Merlin open on my phone and am alerted to the presence of an interesting or unusual bird that I never would have otherwise known was there.

"Photo ID" lets you snap a pic or select one from your library for identification.

"Step by Step ID" guides you through questions about the bird's location, date, size, and colours, then offers up possible matches.

And lastly, "My Sound Recordings" allows you to go back and listen to previous sessions and see which birds you encountered in the past. I like to use this function to compare which birds were around at this same time last year. Or if I'm travelling, it's kind of fun to go back and remember how different the birds sounds were in another areas of the world.

I don't know about you, but witnessing the changing seasons and the return of migratory birds fills me with awe and gratitude for the beauty of Nature. And having tools like Merlin doesn't make me enjoy it more, but it certainly helps pique my interest in some ways. Isn't technology amazing sometimes??

Happy Birding!

Previous post
Next post

Leave a comment