Harbor Hills Country Club is adjacent to Lake Griffin. The area is part of the Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area, known as the Jewel of Lake County. It’s one of the most scenic sites along the Great Birding Trail, a network of more than 500 wildlife viewing sites throughout our state.

Every morning, I am treated to the melodic songs of multiple birds from my patio overlooking the fairway. That’s why I was so excited to download the free app from Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology. Its mission is to provide people with the answer to “What’s that bird?”

The app is called Merlin. It identifies regional birds by photo or sound. More than three million descriptors will help Merlin match your input with the most likely birds. Over 10,000 birds can be identified through their photos, songs, and calls. Clicking “This is my bird” saves the record when a species is identified. You can retrieve it at any time, along with data about the bird and its habitat.

I’ve been out on the patio using the sound app every morning with surprising results. The app identified a Northern cardinal, a Great crested flycatcher, a fish crow, a Northern mockingbird, a Northern Parula, a Mourning dove, an American goldfinch, and a red-bellied woodpecker. And that was just one morning! The sound ID details the call by song, duet, and juvenile calls.

The Merlin app is free and can be downloaded by Android (6 or newer) and iPhone (iOS 15 or newer). Search Google Play or the Apple App Store. The app is called “Merlin Bird ID and makes birdwatching especially entertaining!

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