Iain Anderson's picture

Possible new ID search

Is it technically possible and/or feasible to search for bird ID by a recording of their song?



lavateraguy's picture

The obvious problems would

The obvious problems would separating bird song from other environmental sounds, and dealing with mimics.

But it strikes me that it should be possible to train up a neural network to do the job.

There is already an App out there, but I don't know how it works. (http://blog.aba.org/2011/10/digital-bird-song-identification-a-reality.html)

miked's picture

If that app is really working

If that app is really working and covers UK birds then why not try it out on some of the bird recordings that are already on ispot, I have put quite a few on, just get the computer to play the call over its speakers and point the smartphone at it. Hopefully the original recording has not changed the birdsong too much in the compression etc.

Tony Rebelo's picture


Where are your bird calls on iSpot? - how does one put them on?

There has been lots of talk about sound recording for birds, frogs and insects on iSpot, but I have seen nothing allowing one to capture them ...

miked's picture

I generally put a link to the

I generally put a link to the sound recording and either store the recording on my own website or one of the other sound websites such as soundcloud.

when it comes to finding sound recordings this has been an issue I have raised many times since beginning of ispot and still think it has not been solved, partly because the original file is stored elsewhere.

last week i was thinking of creating a project for just sounds so at least there would be one place where they were all visible(audible) but did not do it as it is currently so difficult to search the projects and for short things such as .mp3. I did start tagging sounds with tags that i hoped might be found by someone looking for sound recordings but I don't think this was very effective partly because sound and sounds are such common words even when there is no sound recording for the observation.

Tony Rebelo's picture

be creative.

1. Choose unique tag that no one will use unless they know about your project: say "audio obs".
2. Add the tag to all your audio observations.
3. Add a project that collects the collection "audio obs"
4. Invite others to participate via your project.

Viola - it is as simple as that.

The iSpot developers have been very "flamboyant" with the truth: we were promised that they would look into audio observations in 2012 already and we still do not have them.
But the string of broken promises is so long ...

DavidHowdon's picture

I just get an access denied from that page

but I've heard rumours of a few developers trying to make something like this. I suspect if such a thing happens it will be developed in a country with a relatively depauperate fauna (like the UK).

I know that here we have bat identification programs that work by taking a (ultra)sound recording and identifying the bats from the pattern of their calls. I understand they can be pretty accurate and are used for professional ecological surveys. Possibly because it is ultrasound and, maybe, because there is fewer bat-calls than bird-songs at any given time this is an easier proposition.

The Sound Approach (http://soundapproach.co.uk/) people have done a lot of work on audio identification of birds as well, although I don't think an automated way of IDing them exists there.

David Howdon

miked's picture

Did you try

Tony Rebelo's picture

Yes, why not?

But we dont even have bird, frog or other animal calls on iSpot yet. So perhaps it is premature to suggest a search?

Technically though it should no be too difficult. However, given how slow it has been for computers to become voice controlled, clearly it is not plain sailing.
Clearly a lot will depend on the clarity of the recording and background noises.

But I dont know how one copes with those birds like the Robinchats that mimic other birds and can even fool ornithologists into looking for Fish Eagles and such.

Why not read further:



miked's picture

"But we dont even have bird,

"But we dont even have bird, frog or other animal calls on iSpot yet." What are you talking about Tony, I have been putting these on iSpot for years, see that link above to the bird sound (have also put on frogs and possibly other taxa too besides birds).
Do you mean the media are not on iSpot servers directly? Just like video which I have also put on ispot but via other media storage sites. Having the media elsewhere removes some of the very large load it may put on OU servers and storage space but it also makes it less flexible and less integrated into the system.
Actually just looked at the statistics on my bird recordings and they have been listened to very rarely, just a handful of times which is rather a shame as some of them are quite nice!

Tony Rebelo's picture

The sound it not on iSpot, just a link

Until it is stored on iSpot, you may as well just use another site.

Why can iSpot not store sounds as well?

If it is on another site, then it is not likely to be as safe as iSpot.

And any software that might be developed in future for iSpot wont be able to interpret it.