Friday, June 5, 2015

Bird Photo ID Tool

On the Ebird front page this morning, I found the following description of an intriguing new bird ID tool that lets you download your photos of birds that you can't identify.

  In a breakthrough for the computer vision and for bird watching, researchers and bird enthusiasts have enabled computers to achieve a task that stumps most humans--identifying hundreds of bird species pictured in photos......the Merlin Bird ID Tool  lets you upload an image of a bird and if the photo shows one of the supported species, it returns the correct species in the top 3 results 90% of the time.  It currently supports 400 species in North America.....

  I gave the program a try and submitted the following photos and included their results.

  Of course every time you come across new technology that threatens to make our species obsolete(or at least shake our collective confidence), you have to remind the computer and its colleagues who controls the on/off button.  In that spirit I submitted a photo that humans ID correctly in one of their top three guesses 97% of the time.


Nailed it.
  Other than my lame attempt at humor the program worked pretty well but it does need a rather high quality unobstructed image to get the correct ID.

   The next ID may have been skewed by the background
America Shorthair + American Flag =  American Eagle 

  Here is a photo of the Bald Eagle sparring with a Snowy Owl in my yard.

    Reminds me of the time a Northern Saw Whet Owl took out a rabbit in my yard


  1. Interesting post! I never would have thought to try and trick the software!

  2. By the way it ID'd me as a Cedar Waxwing, must have been the color of suit that I was wearing. I guess that's better than a Turkey Vulture.