In January 2021, when I suddenly started to post pictures of birds clicked around my house, I started to get many questions from friends and readers like Are you ornithologist? How do you identify birds? Are all these birds really around your house? etc. I think its time to answer some of FAQ’s.
How do you identify birds?
I click pictures of birds with Canon EOS 1500D mounted with 55-250 mm lens in Manual Mode. I try to click multiple photos so that detailed verification of species of bird is possible.
Then I do image search with clicked photo on Merlin App or Google Lens.
1) Merlin Bird ID by Cornel Lab (Playstore link https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.labs.merlinbirdid.app) Is AI based app (and a whole revolution) around birds. Dr Abhijeet Gadewar recommended this app and I am thankful for that. The identification suported by image search also takes into account geographic location, time etc. Provides extra information and even sounds to aid correct identification of birds.
2) Google Lens (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.ar.lens) is a really powerful app for image search and many other things like QR code scanning, realtime translation etc. It’s really powerful app. But Merlin is bird specialist.
The result of image search returns one or sometimes three or more matches. Then taking help of more clicks and carefully reading from other online resources I zero in on correct species. (Note: Confusion still persists regarding some birds and more carefull observations might be needed.)
Are you ornithologist?
I would say I am not. I am just hobbist empowerd by modern technology. I have new hobby after every couple of months and I happily follow my impulses.
Are all these birds really around your house?
Yes. All the birds are clicked within 400-500 feet radius from my house in Warora, District: Chandrapur (India).
Some key remarks I would like to make from ‘Birds in the neighborhood’ project:
1) Birdwatching can be a really great project for students. It enhances our ability to closely observe, have patience and pay attention to details. Importants of environment gets underlined. There are many more benefits for students if done right and in fun way.
2) In old days, with camera to take clear pictures and without portable computers, can you imagin challenges of birdwatchers? For just birdwatching in india, I would need 2000-3000 pages guide with me. To sort through it to match features observed quickely would be such a huge task. Lot of dependability would have to be on memory. With computers, sorting became easy. Now we have image search based on AI. In short not the things that would be possible only for experts in past are possible for amatures to with help of technology.
As cofounder of a technology company, I understand the contribution we make, goes a long way.
I hope, this article answered some of your questions. Let me know your views.