Birdsnap is an iPhone and web based app that uses many of the techniques of facial recognition software to identify 500 of the most common North American birds. The web based version of Birdsnap is actually very easy to use: upload your picture, click on the bird’s eye, click on the bird’s tail, enter your location along with the date the picture was taken, and click submit. I’ll demonstrate how to use Birdsnap even though it was unable to identify the bird I submitted.

Last Wednesday I played golf at South Grove Golf course and my cousin snapped the following picture near the 9th hole tee:

To use the web based version of Birdsnap, go to and click on the "Visual Recognition" button.

Click the “Use your own photo” button and you will be prompted by the open file dialog box. Locate the file with the picture of your bird on your computer and click the “Open” button.

Click on the eye of your bird.

Then click on the tail. Enter your location, the date you took the picture, and click the “Submit this photo” button.

Unfortunately, Birdsnap was unable to identify my bird and returned the following error:

"Visual Recognition Failed: We were unable to determine the species of the bird in your photo. Birdsnap visual recognition works best with high-quality, well-lit photos that show the full body of the bird, in focus."

It does seem that the picture of my bird does not show the full profile of the bird since it has its head turned and facing the camera. My cousin and I were actually fairly close to the bird, maybe a little too close for its comfort. If you want to use Birdsnap to identify your bird, remember to get a clear, well lit, full body shot as shown in the examples of “Good Photos.” The visual recognition software might have trouble recognizing your bird if it is flying, poorly lit, out of focus, obscured behind leaves or branches, or shots that don’t show the full profile of the bird.