1. Miyoko Chu
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/pub/miyoko-chu/b/3b2/799
  3. Senior Director, Communications
  4. Merlin Bird ID App
  5. http://AllAboutBirds.org/MerlinApp
  6. Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  1. Jessie Barry
  2. Merlin Project Leader and Program Manager for the Macaulay Library
  3. Merlin Bird ID App
  4. http://AllAboutBirds.org/MerlinApp
  5. Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  1. Scott Haber
  2. Digital Content Manager
  3. Merlin Bird ID App
  4. http://AllAboutBirds.org/MerlinApp
  5. Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  1. Tina Phillips
  2. Program Evaluation Associate
  3. Merlin Bird ID App
  4. http://AllAboutBirds.org/MerlinApp
  5. Cornell Lab of Ornithology
 
 
 
 
Facilitators’, Presenters’,
& Public Choice
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Carolina Milesi

    Carolina Milesi

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 10:55 a.m.

    I wonder if you have plans to expand the eBird database and Merlin Bird ID App, especially the potential to identify birds beyond North America.

  • Icon for: Miyoko Chu

    Miyoko Chu

    Presenter
    May 11, 2015 | 07:31 p.m.

    Hi Carolina—Yes! We are seeking funding to enable Merlin to identify more species. Right now, it’s reasonably accurate in helping people identify 400 of the most commonly encountered birds in North America. App users have confirmed 1.1 million bird identifications using Merlin! Now we’d like to “teach” Merlin how to recognize more species in North America, including Mexico. Ultimately it would be our dream to include all 10,404 bird species in the world.

  • Small default profile

    Chris Proctor

    Guest
    May 12, 2015 | 12:17 a.m.

    My son Justin (Cornell Univ.) just finished two month long expeditions in the Jamaican jungle doing a bird study funded by the Smithsonian.

  • Icon for: Miyoko Chu

    Miyoko Chu

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 09:35 a.m.

    Fantastic! I am so inspired by Justin and all the brilliant young people who are out making discoveries in the natural world and who are working to protect it. How did Justin first get interested in birds?

  • Icon for: Tamara Moore

    Tamara Moore

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 01:02 a.m.

    This is a really fun idea! I love the idea. Do you have any plans to help schools/museums/etc. to use this app in formal or informal way?

  • Icon for: Miyoko Chu

    Miyoko Chu

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 09:33 a.m.

    Tamara, we would LOVE for schools and museums to use the app. We recently put together a proposal to collaborate with three science/nature centers and a national park. We’d like to develop a new feature that enables people to save their bird sighting into the eBird citizen-science database after they identify their bird, and we’d like to collaborate with educators to learn how best to implement this in different settings to enhance engagement and learning outcomes. Although that particular proposal wasn’t funded, we hope that teachers and museum professionals will share their feedback with us meanwhile about what they’ve tried and what has worked well in formal and informal settings.

  • Icon for: Gillian Puttick

    Gillian Puttick

    Principal Investigator
    May 12, 2015 | 09:50 a.m.

    Miyoko – great presentation! I’d be really interested to hear what your research on learning is telling you.

  • Icon for: Miyoko Chu

    Miyoko Chu

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 10:30 a.m.

    Hi Gilly—for me, there were three main take-home messages. The first is that novices and beginners who used Merlin perceived greater gains in bird observation and ID skills than a control group. Comments in interviews suggested that they found it easier to use than a traditional field guide, and Merlin taught them key characteristics to observe when identifying birds. This makes us wonder whether using Merlin could lead to increased confidence. The second is that the mobile version was highly preferred over the web version. 40% of study participants who had access to both never even bothered to try the web version! We thought this was an urgent reminder of how quickly the world is switching to mobile, and especially how useful mobile interactions are when looking at something outside! Finally, the biggest request was that participants wanted to record their sightings in a checklist. We are excited because if we can enable these sightings to be stored in the eBird citizen-science project, this may create a welcoming entree for novices and beginners to step into citizen science.

  • Icon for: May Jadallah

    May Jadallah

    Assistant Professor
    May 13, 2015 | 11:37 p.m.

    This is wonderful! Cannot but congratulate you and your team on the amazing work. Who were your participants? How were they selected? What other impacts on participants have you tried detecting?

  • Icon for: Miyoko Chu

    Miyoko Chu

    Presenter
    May 14, 2015 | 11:45 p.m.

    Hi, May. Beginning and novice bird watchers were the focus of our evaluation. We recruited them through Master Naturalist programs, Master Gardener programs, CREW Land and Water Trust in Florida, and Cornell Lab of Ornithology Facebook followers. Interested individuals were asked to fill out an online survey with questions that enabled us to sort into stratified random control and treatment groups. We selected participants who said they could identify roughly 50 species or less. Participants were asked to watch birds at least once a month for three months. In addition to finding that Merlin users had greater self-reported gains in bird observation and identification skills, we learned through post-survey telephone interviews that participants were articulate and concrete about how Merlin trained them to focus on specific characteristics, often different from those they had used before. We tried to measure whether increases in skill could be detected with a 13-question bird photo identification quiz taken before and after the study period. This quiz did not yield significant differences between the two groups; however, it is possible that the length or amount of participation was not long enough to develop skills that could be detected by such a quiz. We also wanted to evaluate whether the use of Merlin would lead to greater exploration of information on birds. The results showed that 73% of Merlin users went on to explore more information about birds through the Cornell Lab’s online resources, compared with 39% for the control group. It was encouraging to us that 90% of those who used the app said they would use it again.

  • Icon for: May Jadallah

    May Jadallah

    Assistant Professor
    May 15, 2015 | 12:28 a.m.

    Wonderful! A million thanks for the clear explanation Miyoko.

  • Small default profile

    Chris Proctor

    Guest
    May 12, 2015 | 10:15 a.m.

    I believe Justin may have picked up his interest in birds from spending time in Florida observing the various long-legged, long – billed “water” birds ö the Gulf Coast.

  • Icon for: Miyoko Chu

    Miyoko Chu

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 10:19 a.m.

    What a wonderful place to be immersed in birds.

  • Icon for: CHARLES MATTHEWS

    CHARLES MATTHEWS

    Research Scientist
    May 12, 2015 | 03:05 p.m.

    WOW. Your sold me. Your presentation is beautiful and I just downloaded the app. I know Cornell Ornitology — my PhD in another field there in 1966. It is a beautiful place with impressve work.

  • Icon for: Miyoko Chu

    Miyoko Chu

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 08:19 p.m.

    Thanks for downloading the app, Charles. I hope it helps with a few new bird identifications this spring!

  • Icon for: CHARLES MATTHEWS

    CHARLES MATTHEWS

    Research Scientist
    May 12, 2015 | 09:12 p.m.

    I have a patio full of birds right now and I’m using the app. I love it.

  • Small default profile

    Tina Phillips

    Guest
    May 13, 2015 | 10:16 a.m.

    Hi Charles – it’s a product we are very proud of and hope you find easy and fun to use!

  • Icon for: Dacid Lustick

    Dacid Lustick

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 04:47 p.m.

    Excellent presentation! Again, I have come to expect nothing from the best from the Cornell Ornithology Lab! Is there anything they can’t do? As leaders in the field of Citizen Science, Merlin is another example of getting the public engaged with things science—or in this case, birds. I wonder: Will Merlin be able to listen to a bird call and ID the bird from the call—aka Siri and music?

  • Icon for: Miyoko Chu

    Miyoko Chu

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 08:17 p.m.

    Hi David! In the bird world, the holy grail would be to have the app identify bird song. Many companies are trying to develop this capability for their own apps, but it’s been a challenge. It seems like a complex song on the radio would be much harder to recognize than a couple of seconds of a single bird singing, but the radio plays a song exactly the same way each time. Bird song can be variable, and all the noise around it—other birds singing, noise from traffic, barking dogs, etc. can really confuse the computer. One person explained it like this—if you shout at Siri while the music is playing, or if you play the song on your guitar instead of the radio, Siri’s accuracy goes way down. The technology is advancing quickly, though, so bird song ID will be in our future some day! Meanwhile we have made better progress on photo ID—we are now beta testing a feature that identifies the bird in your photo using computer vision.

  • Icon for: Jessica Hunt

    Jessica Hunt

    Assistant Professor
    May 12, 2015 | 07:22 p.m.

    This is excellent!

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    Cheryl Withrow

    Guest
    May 13, 2015 | 09:21 a.m.

    Any plans to offer a Windows 8 version of the Merlin app?

  • Icon for: Scott Haber

    Scott Haber

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 10:42 a.m.

    Cheryl,

    Right now we’re focusing our efforts on developing Merlin for iOS and Android platforms, as those are currently our best opportunities to reach a wide and diverse audience.

    The photo ID tool currently in beta testing that Miyoko mentioned in an earlier reply, has been designed for the web though, and is compatible with Chrome and Firefox browsers on both Mac and PC computers.

  • Small default profile

    Cheryl Withrow

    Guest
    May 14, 2015 | 07:07 a.m.

    Scott,
    Thank you for the information. I have a Windows cell phone and would really love it if Merlin were available as I am a big fan of the platform, having switched from an iPhone to this device. Again, thanks for the response.

  • Icon for: Miyoko Chu

    Miyoko Chu

    Presenter
    May 14, 2015 | 11:27 a.m.

    Hi Cheryl, we do hope to develop Merlin on mobile-optimized web pages, so when this becomes available, you should be able to use it on your Windows phone through a web browser. Thanks so much for your interest in using Merlin!!

  • Small default profile

    Cheryl Withrow

    Guest
    May 15, 2015 | 09:20 a.m.

    Miyoko,
    Thank you for letting me know about the development process toward a mobile-optimized web pages. Can not wait to use Merlin on my phone!

  • Small default profile

    Carol Brandt

    Guest
    May 13, 2015 | 09:42 a.m.

    I agree with the comments above that the mobile version of Merlin is amazing. I use it several times a week and I’m beyond beginning, not expert – but see some limitations in terms of the bird list. I’m glad you are looking for funding to expand the list for those like me who are in the middle of the bell curve of informal learning. What I’ve surprised myself is how much I rely on the calls and song features. I’m wondering if you have research and a way to capture how each user is checking visual vs. sound? Great work – and I’m eager to use it with students in the field.

  • Icon for: Jessie Barry

    Jessie Barry

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 10:36 a.m.

    Hi, Carol. Sound is certainly a critical component of bird identification. We are currently not collecting data on how frequently users play the sounds. We have received feedback that the sounds are the favorite part of Merlin for many users.

  • Small default profile

    Chris Raymond

    Guest
    May 13, 2015 | 10:49 a.m.

    I’m a novice birder, and have been using Merlin for a couple years. I LOVE it! I was so impressed that I could ID a shore bird in Phoenix at a refuge. I’m from Portland OR.

  • Icon for: Tina Phillips

    Tina Phillips

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 11:05 a.m.

    Hi Chris – so glad you were able to use Merlin successfully. We worked hard to make it easy and fun, and novice birders are the ideal audience for this version of Merlin. As it gets smarter and more birds are added, we think it will be a great tool for all types of birders!

  • Small default profile

    Joseph Shane

    Guest
    May 13, 2015 | 01:04 p.m.

    Looking forward to using app once it is on my iPad .

  • Icon for: Dacid Lustick

    Dacid Lustick

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 02:08 p.m.

    10 years ago, voice recognition was considered a ‘holy grail’ in computer science. Where will be in 10 years? I am quite confident that an app will emerge (Merlin perhaps?) that incorporates the ability to recognize bird song. For bird watchers, this would be so helpful as we can oftenhear a bird before we actually see them.
    thanks and congrats on such a great project!
    david

  • Icon for: Louise Allen

    Louise Allen

    Visiting Assistant Professor
    May 13, 2015 | 10:01 p.m.

    I think there are a lot of us who are keeping our fingers crossed for this capability. It is only a matter of time.

  • Icon for: Preeti Gupta

    Preeti Gupta

    Director of Youth Learning and Research
    May 13, 2015 | 09:24 p.m.

    Downloading this cool sounding app now.

  • Icon for: Avron Barr

    Avron Barr

    Consultant
    May 14, 2015 | 05:24 p.m.

    I’ve used several bird ID apps, often unsuccessfully. I’m looking forward to seeing if I can do better with Merlin.

  • Small default profile

    John Johnson

    Guest
    May 14, 2015 | 11:23 p.m.

    Please format for us Kindle users!! Thanks.

  • Icon for: Miyoko Chu

    Miyoko Chu

    Presenter
    May 15, 2015 | 10:46 p.m.

    Hi John. You bring up a really good point about the challenges of creating and maintaining mobile apps. It takes considerable investment to accomplish the programming for each different platform, then continued investment to to ensure the app keeps working every time the mobile device companies upgrade their operating systems. It is a real struggle for nonprofit organizations such as ours to keep up even with just the iOS and Android platforms. However, we want the app to be used as widely used as possible, so we hope to develop a mobile-friendly web version that you would be able to use with any device that can browse web pages. Thanks for asking—we appreciate your interest!

  • Icon for: Miyoko Chu

    Miyoko Chu

    Presenter
    May 15, 2015 | 11:23 p.m.

    As the showcase comes to a close, I want to give a heartfelt thanks to the showcase organizers, as well as to everyone who provided comments and questions, or who voted, shared, or downloaded the Merlin app. I hope you will see some beautiful birds in the coming months and that you will challenge Merlin to help you discover their names and learn more about them. Our team is grateful for the NSF support that made this app possible—and that made possible all the inspiring and innovative work to enhance STEM teaching and learning outcomes as featured throughout this showcase.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.