Good news for avian enthusiasts who can't remember all the names of birds. Researchers at Cornell University and the California Institute of Technology have created a website that can identify nearly 400 species of birds that fly over North America.
Merlin Bird Photo ID, the bird recognition website, is the outcome of an association between the two universities and the Visipedia research project. According to the researchers, the website identifies the species of a bird in a photograph uploaded by a user.
"Ten years ago, people were thinking, Can you imagine if binoculars could take pictures and identify birds?” said the lead researcher, Jessie Barry. "And the fact that we can actually snap an image and have the computer say what it is, that's something you only would have dreamed of."
Right now, it can identify only those species found in Canada and the United States.
When someone uploads the picture of a bird, the website asks the user to click on its beak, tail and eye. The user is prompted to add information about when and where the picture was taken. The website browses through millions of images available over eBird.org to identify the one that matches the snap. In addition, the website also looks for matches through images uploaded by other bird-watchers.
The bird identifier was presented at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Boston. The team plans to expand the database of the website to include other geographical areas.