Using Merlin Bird ID to Participate

Welcome! If you are NEW to the Great Backyard Bird Count and have a smartphone, we recommend using the Merlin Bird ID app to participate. (No smartphone? Here’s how to enter your data on a computer.)

Using Merlin Bird ID in the GBBC is an easy 2-step process: set up the app on your phone; and then use Merlin to ID and save your sighting.

Step 1: Set Up Merlin on Your Phone

Download the Merlin Bird ID app to your smartphone. (Problems installing? Try this support document.)

  1. Open Merlin and install a Bird Pack for your region.
    • Each Bird Pack provides a field guide to the birds of the region with photos, sounds, and helpful ID text for bird species in the region. Merlin will tag the best pack for your current location as Recommended.
  2. Sign in or create a free Cornell Lab account.
    • On the app, find the menu icon in the top left of the home screen.
    • If you already have an account please use the same username and password for submitting your bird(s) for the Great Backyard Bird Count. If you have previously participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count, submitted to eBird, saved a bird with Merlin Bird ID, or participated in Project FeederWatch, NestWatch, Celebrate Urban Birds, etc., you have an existing account. If you don’t remember your username or password, you can recover or reset them when logging in to the app or on this screen.

Step 2: Use Merlin to ID and Save Your Bird

  1. Touch Step by Step
    • Choose your location.
    • Select the date of the sighting.
    • Answer the three questions based on the bird you are watching.
    • Choose which bird you saw from the provided choices.
      • No need to tell us how many birds you saw! Knowing that X species was present is valuable data and considered an incidental sighting.
  2. Select “This is My Bird!”
    • You’ll be asked to confirm your bird sighting and location. Give your location a unique name!
  3. Using Sound ID?
    • Touch Sound ID
      • Record the birds that are singing or calling.
      • Stop the recording, go back and review each call or song that Merlin picked up.
      • Listen, is that the bird you heard? If so, select, that’s my bird at the bottom of the screen.

Congratulations! You’ve participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count

Keep it going all weekend! You can continue to participate by identifying additional birds you see or hear with Merlin Bird ID.

Entering a Full Checklist?

If you already know which birds you are seeing or hearing, and want to quickly submit a list of them, you can use eBird.

With eBird you are able to:

  • Report the number of individuals of each species.
  • Enter more than just one bird sighting or one bird at a time.
  • Add comments about each sighting.
  • Upload your photos and audio recordings.