Jump to content
Whatbird Community

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

Wondering if anyone has used an app for identifying bird songs (and/or calls) that one hears while out birding? If so, which one(s) have you used or currently use? Is there one you would recommend or are they all equally lousy?  

Basically, I'm interested in an app similar to how apps like SoundHound and Shazam work for ID'ing songs one randomly hears.  I've found a few in the App Store (ex: Chirp!, Song Sleuth, Chirpomatic, Bird Song ID by Sunbird, etc etc.), but they all have fairly "meh" reviews and/or are expensive for an app when one can't be certain of its accuracy.

However, if there is one that has a good broad repertoire and a decent accuracy rate - ideally with the more confusing bird songs or seasonal migrants  (warblers, sparrows, flycatchers...),  then I don't mind shelling out some $$ if one exist!  I'm looking for a unicorn, I know 😂 

Sorry for the drawn out question and thanks! 

Edited by Winter
Typo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are not very many options. Song Sleuth was the first to market. It works ok but they only have ~200 species that are throughout North America, so it's really only going to work for your most recognized bird songs.  I've used it a bit and as you said it's "meh". The new contender is BirdGenie from the same guys who made the Warbler Guide.  It has many of the same features as Song Sleuth but has multiple songs/calls for about 100 species so far. With development you'll get more. That said I find it to be a bit buggy, and doesn't respond very well (but that will likely be fixed with updates).  The problem is that with bird songs/calls there is variation and/or "dialects" among species.  With Shazam you have good success because every time the particular song comes on, it's characteristics are 100% the same, making it a reliable app. Bird songs are not 100% the same every time a bird sings and that variation is incredibly hard to program. Best you can do is get a "likely species" which is why the apps give you a list of what the bird may be. Cool idea, but there is a long way to go in that development. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your response. I agree with everything you said about the difficulties of implementing an app that goes beyond very obvious bird songs as there’s birds have many variations and dialects - is not just a singular song like with music. Perhaps one day something great will come along, though. 

In general I’m fairly good with bird songs, however,  come spring with the warblers and vireos migrating through (right now), I get easily overwhelmed, often forgetting or muddling which of the narrowed down 2 or 3 similar-sounding warblers is the one making the particular song/call. I just end up recording it on my phone in hopes that one day I’ll find time to analyze and compare sounds. 😝 

I can see another related issue is that a lot of the migratory songbirds within a species oftentimes have a similar “general sound” which  one can only differentiate by the presence of a slight shift in cadence, lilt, pace, and/or having a differing notes, etc.  I doubt a smartphone microphone can successfully differentiate this, especially as it inadvertently picks up all the other background noise like wind, airplanes, and anything else near it, easily obscuring a defining note or two. Apologies for rambling.

That’s cool about BirdGenie, though! The Warbler Guide is a fantastic book that I would love to buy some day.  I may try the app out just to see.. Thanks again! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/18/2019 at 8:41 PM, Winter said:

I can see another related issue is that a lot of the migratory songbirds within a species oftentimes have a similar “general sound” which  one can only differentiate by the presence of a slight shift in cadence, lilt, pace, and/or having a differing notes, etc.  I doubt a smartphone microphone can successfully differentiate this, especially as it inadvertently picks up all the other background noise like wind, airplanes, and anything else near it, easily obscuring a defining note or two.

One neat thing about these apps is you can isolate the song. It will give you a spectrogram and you essentially drag the lines in so you eliminate most if not all of the background noise. This is a must because wind and traffic etc. really muddy up recordings. I have been impressed on how these apps do that and have been successful recording a cardinal or titmouse or something from a hundred yards away or more. If warblers are the challenge for you, these apps can still be useful in that you can record the spectogram and review it later if it doesn't get a match. The Warbler Guide actually has a very comprehensive spectrogram list for each species so you can limit to the birds likely in your area and which spectrogram closely matches. It's a considerable amount of work, but that is a possibility. For that I'd recommend BirdGenie as their spectrogram is far more detailed. 

 

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...