I'm not what some would call "a birder." I don't seek out birds to watch. I do enjoy several bird feeders and we hike in the nearby Audobon trails. Usually I just have a passing curiosity in identifying birds. I'm just motivated enough to use an app and not nearly enough to use a book. That's what's great about the Merlin Bird ID. It's an app that is so easy to use that I now know the difference between a cow bird and a female cardinal.
One of the highlights of Merlin is the lookup by photo feature. Snap a picture of a bird and Merlin can figure out which bird it might be. This is kind of magical when it works, and it works a lot of the time. I've recommended this app to people in multiple regions of the U.S. and they all tell me it works for them.
The detail provided by the app is just perfect for me. It sure is nice to have multiple images to browse of each bird. This includes male, female, and juvenile. There's also detailed information about migration with the relatively likelihood of seeing that bird exactly where you are at that time of year.
If you can't snap a picture of the bird, you can just answer a series of questions to get the likely candidates. With information such as approximate size and colors the Merlin Bird will narrow the list down to something reasonable for your area.
I can also browse by "Likely Birds" for the time of the year. With a bar graph relating the relative likelihood.
Drill into the details for find the regional map of where the bird is found. It's a nice detail that tells me if someone I know might also be seeing the same bird.
My favorite feature of the app is the bird song player. It's not some low quality audio with a generic player. The bird songs are extremely high definition with a wave view. The audio also loops which makes it easier for me to pick out the exact match for what I'm hearing out my window.
Merlin Bird ID is a fun little treat and it's free. The only negative is that an account with Cornell Ornithology Labs is required and that account comes with a minor amount spam email. It's good spam since it's mostly just asking for support of good causes. I hate spam with a passion and this doesn't even bother me.