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Merlin is giving me two different flycatchers for same bird


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I photographed this flycatcher on the nest and nearby and Merlin is giving me for the Cordilleran Flycatcher for the nest image and Western Wood-pewee for the two perched images.  I am pretty sure they are all of the same bird.  Any help?  I am "pretty sure" its the same bird.  I was watching it go back to the water then to the nest.

Flycatcher_AN3I4575.jpg

Flycatcher_AN3I4572.jpg

Flycatcher_AN3I4564.jpg

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On 6/21/2022 at 9:12 PM, Lesliemorris said:

I photographed this flycatcher on the nest and nearby and Merlin is giving me for the Cordilleran Flycatcher for the nest image and Western Wood-pewee for the two perched images.  I am pretty sure they are all of the same bird.  Any help?  I am "pretty sure" its the same bird.  I was watching it go back to the water then to the nest.

Merlin can be a helpful tool, but I would never consider it to give the definitive ID. It can give you some options to look for, but I think it's far from the accuracy of knowledgeable human observers, and careful IDs using field guides. I use Merlin to check photos and characteristics, and especially sounds; I have never used it to make and ID, and as I said if I did I'd verify with other methods before acccepting the ID.

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I agree with @Aveschapines, Merlin is a great tool, sometimes. It can also be a misleading tool if it points you in the wrong direction.

Having said that, when getting conflicting suggestions like that @Lesliemorris, I'd put more faith in the suggestions that come from photos of a perched bird in a more normal position that shows most of the birds features over suggestions that come from photos of the same bird in an unusual posture that might hide or contort some of the birds features. As an example, I think Pewees usually hold themselves in an upright position like your two perched photos, which also show the bird's features quite well. Merlin might confuse the same bird in the nest for something else because it can't see a key feature, or possibly because of the bird's more horizontal position with its tail pointing upward instead of down, something which might be more typical of other similar looking birds. Just tossing a few pennies into the well of birding apps without really knowing if my coins are worth that much, or knowing what I'm talking about.

Edited by lonestranger
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1 hour ago, Aveschapines said:

Merlin can be a helpful tool, but I would never consider it to give the definitive ID. It can give you some options to look for, but I think it's far from the accuracy of knowledgeable human observers, and careful IDs using field guides. I use Merlin to check photos and characteristics, and especially sounds; I have never used it to make and ID, and as I said if I did I'd verify with other methods before acccepting the ID.

 

44 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

I agree with @Aveschapines, Merlin is a great tool, sometimes. It can also be a misleading tool if it points you in the wrong direction.

Having said that, when getting conflicting suggestions like that @Lesliemorris, I'd put more faith in the suggestions that come from photos of a perched bird in a more normal position that shows most of the birds features over suggestions that come from photos of the same bird in an unusual posture that might hide or contort some of the birds features. As an example, I think Pewees usually hold themselves in an upright position like your two perched photos, which also show the bird's features quite well. Merlin might confuse the same bird in the nest for something else because it can't see a key feature, or possibly because of the bird's more horizontal position with its tail pointing upward instead of down, something which might be more typical of other similar looking birds. Just tossing a few pennies into the well of birding apps without really knowing if my coins are worth that much, or knowing what I'm talking about.

Yeah Merlin isn't always accurate. I have been using it to record bird sound to upload to ebird through the sound identifaction part and just seeing what sometimes shows up there I can tell you it isn't always accurate.

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2 hours ago, Tanager 101 said:

I have been using it to record bird sound to upload to ebird through the sound identifaction part

I've never used the photo ID portion; I'm too lazy to transfer the photos from my camera to a phone or tablet.  I do use the sound portion to tell me what the app thinks is in the area, so I have an idea what to expect to see.

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