Bird call spectrograms

To: 'Carl Clifford' <>, 'David Adams' <>
Subject: Bird call spectrograms
From: Peter Shute <>
Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2013 12:31:13 +1100
I forgot to mention that it helps to listen to recordings with headphones or at 
least earphones, preferably ones that will block out outside noise. It's very 
hard to hear some calls properly on PC or phone speakers unless you're in a 
very quiet room.

Peter Shute

> -----Original Message-----
> From:  
>  On Behalf Of 
> Carl Clifford
> Sent: Monday, 11 February 2013 11:56 AM
> To: David Adams
> Cc: Birding-Aus Aus
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Bird call spectrograms
> David,
> It just needs time reading the spectrographs while listening 
> to the sound. With practice you can "hear" the calls while 
> looking at the sonogram, rather like a musician "sight read" music.
> Cheers,
> Carl Clifford
> On 11/02/2013, at 11:36 AM, David Adams <> wrote:
> > In a thread about birding apps the other day Peter Shute 
> provided some 
> > links to information on understanding spectrograms of bird 
> calls that 
> > I'll quote here:
> > 
> >> There's a good tutorial on reading spectrograms at
> > The Canyon Wren
> >> spectrograms at 
> >> can
> > be compared to those in the
> >> lite version of the app to get an idea of how much more 
> useful they 
> >> are
> > when done well.
> > 
> > (For reference, The app in question above is iBird Pro 6.1 for North
> > America.)
> > 
> > I finally had a chance to start looking at the earbirding site that 
> > Peter links to and just wanted to say it's fascinating. 
> I've already 
> > confirmed that I don't have a great natural ear, but that's not a 
> > shock. It looks like it will take some time to understand 
> spectrograms 
> > but even after a few minutes with the examples, it's easy 
> to see how 
> > much this approach has to offer. Verbal transcriptions of 
> calls have 
> > never helped me (ever) - and those of us with imperfect ears are 
> > likely to hear songs wrong. (There are three notes not two? It's 
> > rising and *then* falling, not the other way
> > around?) WIth the spectrogram, you can "see" the sound as it plays, 
> > making it a lot easier to hear it right. It's a bit eerie 
> and exciting 
> > if you've been hearing the song incorrectly and then start 
> hearing the 
> > same recording differently. A pleasure denied to those of you with 
> > great ears. My sympathies ;-)

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