Sort of related - bird call ID apps

To: David Rees <>
Subject: Sort of related - bird call ID apps
From: Martin Butterfield <>
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2017 01:17:47 +0000
I suspect the key thing is the tolerances for matching the call.  By that I mean does the system always have to make a match, even if only 50% confident of the ID or does it return a statement like "Sorry no match possible"unless it is >95%  confident of the match?  Does it only return a single possibility or offer more than one plus probabilities (eg White throated Gerygone 55% Western Gerygone 45%).  

There are many many options, its just good to see some work starting to happen since Shazam appeared on the music scene in 2008.

On 28 November 2017 at 11:52, David Rees <> wrote:

You are right that we, with some initial experience, are good at picking out specific sounds among many.  I mentioned lyrebirds, which as you say are easy for us to determine,  the app could determine 'lyrebird' from the distinctive 'Bling bling' part of its call. No sure how such an app would go with the elements of the  'performance' though, would be a good test though for whatever programming has been used.

On Tue, Nov 28, 2017 at 10:53 AM, Philip Veerman <> wrote:

I reckon anyone who can actually produce something along these lines, that actually will work to any useful extent, as in be mostly correct, will do something amazing. If they can do so for any kind of financial reward, in our small market they would also be incredibly lucky. Maybe Martin and a few others should think about the challenges of doing this, as part of the wondering why they haven’t.


It can only work by comparison to the small subset of almost the same sounds already contained in the software, so anything little known won’t be on it. Mostly lyrebirds are easy to pick. Very different context to model sounds. Quick changes of sounds, many different sounds included and pretty much all sounds at the same high volume. Other bird vocal mimics could be harder to pick. For example a few times I have had a calling Wedge-tailed Eagle in my garden that turned out to be an O-b Oriole. A machine wouldn’t distinguish the Regent Honeyeater mimicry from the Red Wattlebird model.


No doubt David is right. It is not just how hard it is to record the sounds it is that often the sound we are interested in is just one of many. Our ears are good at discriminating.




From: David Rees [
Sent: Tuesday, 28 November, 2017 9:57 AM
To: David McDonald (personal)
Cc: CanberraBirds
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Sort of related - bird call ID apps


Interesting, as someone who does a lot of bird sound recording when filming and in addition to filming I find that without a fully wind muffed microphone, most of the time what you will record will be crap.   Getting good audio is sometimes harder than the filming.  The microphones on all mobile phones, regardless of price, are not wind protected, similar to on-camera mics outdoors, mostly useless.  Software can help with a low cut filter but there are limits. You can however plug a properly protected mic into a mobile phone (though Apple are making it harder with their 'playing with ports' game), this would allow the app to get a 'clean feed' in anything other than dead still conditions.  Wonder how it will cope with mimics, such as the lyrebirds!.




On Sat, Nov 18, 2017 at 9:00 PM, David McDonald (personal) <> wrote:

There are a number of Shazam-type apps for identifying bird calls using a smart phone for the USA and other regons, and they are now appearing for Oz birds as well.

See Bird Song Id Australia - Automatic Recognition
quote, my emphasis:
Identify birds of Australia by their Songs and Calls with this stunning guide!
Record a bird singing and use Automatic Recognition to help identify it. Includes high quality images and audio. No internet connection is needed!

With Bird Song Id, identification can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Test your knowledge with our Bird Song Quiz, see if you can become the highest scorer!

Bird Song Id has been created by professional published ecologists, and uses propriety image and audio libraries. Bird Song Id can also be used to keep a log of your own bird recordings.

This app includes 110 bird species and over 200 songs and calls. All the most common garden birds are included.

The mention of 'No internet connection is needed' tells us that the app is large - it has to store the audio files on your phone. Yes, 261 MB, but that is only half the size of the Frog ID app and a third the size of PK Birds.


On 10/11/2017 9:04 AM, Martin Butterfield wrote:

I and a few others have occasionally wondered why there isn't a bird call identification app along the lines of Shazam.  The reasons given all seem to be along the lines of "Its too difficult to do every bird call so we'll do none."' Which is not particularly helpful!


As a small step along the way the Australian Museum has launched what could be called Shazam for Frogs.





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