Merlin Bird ID App: Frequently Asked Questions

January 9, 2014
A gorgeous Indigo Bunting. Photo by Carlos Escamilla via Birdshare.

As soon as we launched our free Merlin Bird ID app, people began asking questions such as what devices it works on, how to find it in the App Store, and how to get it running on their device. Below you’ll find answers to those very common questions. These questions have been updated to reflect our most recent release of Merlin in July 2014. You’ll also find a full list of frequently asked questions at our Merlin website.

New self-paced course: Learn How to Identify Bird Songs, Click to Learn More

Where can I download Merlin Bird ID?

Download it from the App Store via this Merlin Bird ID direct link. The app is free. You will need a wi-fi connection for the download because of the app’s size.

Can I run Merlin on my computer?

Not right now, but we are working on a desktop version of Merlin for release later this year.

Can I run Merlin on my Kindle, Windows Phone, or other device?

We don’t have any plans to create versions beyond Apple, Android and the Web, but we will consider it in the future if there is enough interest. When the Web version is released, it will provide an option to access Merlin for anyone with an Internet browser.

I can’t find Merlin in the App Store (usually using iPad).

The easiest way to get the app is to click on this link from your iPad or iPhone:

The reason the app can be hard to find in the App Store, particularly for iPads, is that Merlin Bird ID is currently optimized for iPhone and iPod Touch, though it will also work on the iPad. In order to see it in App Store search results, you need to select “iPhone Only” in the left-hand drop-down list at the top of the search results page. (Here’s a screenshot.)

How do I know if I am running iOS 7?

On your iPad or iPhone, go to Settings => General => About. This screen will tell you your version number. It will look something like “7.0.4 (11B554a).” If the first number is a “7,” then you have iOS7.

To update to iOS7, go to Settings => General => Software Update and follow the instructions.

Why do you support only iOS7 and not earlier versions of iOS?

Because of changes Apple has made to App Store policies, it can be difficult and expensive to support apps for iOS 6 and older. At the Cornell Lab, we try very hard to use our limited resources wisely in support of our mission. After reviewing our options, we reluctantly came to the conclusion that we should focus on producing a high-quality app for iOS7 rather than spreading our resources to support older versions of iOS. If you are reluctant to upgrade your older device to iOS 7, we can at least tell you that several Cornell Lab staff members use Merlin Bird ID and other apps on devices as old as iPhone 4, with generally good results.

I can’t hear the sound recordings in the app.

This can be a very frustrating problem, but the good news is that it is usually an easy fix. In all of the cases we have seen so far, the problem of sound not playing has been due to the mute switch being on or the volume was turned all the way down.

The reason this can be confusing is that many built-in Apple apps such as Music, Videos, and iTunes are allowed to “ignore” the mute switch. This quirk may make it seem like sound is working for all of your other apps but not for Merlin Bird ID. Take heart: the mute switch (or the volume control) is probably the key to solving this problem.

Here’s what to do: the mute switch is an actual switch (not a button on the screen) located on the upper left side of your iPhone/iPad/iPod. If you can see orange, then the mute is turned ON, and you won’t hear sound from Merlin. Flip the switch so that you can no longer see orange and try to play a sound again. You should hear it (assuming your volume is turned up).

If you confirm that your sound is not muted by the mute switch, and still are having problems with sound, please send us an email: We’ll work with you to figure out what is happening and how to fix it.

Which species are included in Merlin Bird ID?

You’ll find a complete list of Merlin species here.

See more frequently asked questions on our Merlin website.