Today’s Solutions: May 17, 2022

Our world has lost a third of bird populations since 1970, but unlike elephants and pandas which are constantly referenced in discussions surrounding species loss, many people don’t even realize how quickly avian species are disappearing. Fortunately, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is working to improve bird awareness and conservation with what many are calling the “Shazam of bird songs.”

Just like the Shazam app can recognize the name of a song playing near you at a party or the mall, the newly-updated Merlin Bird ID app identifies birds by their song with nearly 100 percent accuracy.

The app was put together using contributions from tens of thousands of citizen scientists and so far, can recognize 400 North American species. Simply hit the “listen” button, and the app will list the birds behind the calls you’re listening to. It can even decipher different species among simultaneous calls.

Many more people took up bird watching as a safe and engaging pastime during the pandemic, but if we are going to truly take action to save our birds, more people must become aware of the acute loss to bird biodiversity we are experiencing. Plus, the more data that is collected via the app, the more information conservationists have to inform their efforts.

Some solutions, like urban bird loss mapping and medical innovations, are helping, but hopefully, the new Cornell app will inspire everyone to become a bird conservationist in their own backyard.

New York Times writer Margaret Renkl summarizes, “Our most powerful work is done in the fervor of love; our most urgent effort is born from the fear of losing what we love best. To save birds, we need to make the whole human race fall in love with birds.”

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