To ID birds, try facial recognition

10:00am, June 28, 2014

SAY CHEESE  The Birdsnap program maps birds’ bodies to identify species, such as a bohemian waxwing shown, in photos taken from different angles.

Birding just got easier. No need to page through guidebooks looking for the mystery bird you just spotted — all you need is an iPhone and the new Birdsnap app, or a digital camera and computer. Snap a picture in the app or upload an image to the Birdsnap website, click on the bird’s eye and tail, then enter the location and date where the bird was found. Sophisticated algorithms detect parts of the bird, such as the beak and the belly, then maps the bird according to “a common coordinate system from which [Birdsnap] can extract features for the identification system,” explains one of Birdsnap’s creators, computer scientist Peter Belhumeur of Columbia University.

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