With mobile devices, identifying birds when out and about has been made so much easier. You see a bird, open up an app, tick a few boxes and it’ll display a match. However, sometimes you don’t see the bird. You just hear it.
ChirpOMatic uses technology that just a few years ago would have been only a dream. It allows you to record a bird song and it will do its best to analyse the audio and provide you with a match. The location of your recording is also taken into account and it will use this information to select birds in that area.
As the app is still relatively new, it’s still learning to become more efficient. It won’t get every bird correct but in our tests (using audio clips from RSPB.org.uk) it successfully identified 4 out of 5. It’s important to submit high quality recordings and the bird needs to be the loudest sound in the environment. So planes flying overhead, dogs barking or people talking, certainly won’t help produce quality recordings.
The app saves all of your recordings for you to listen to and it also includes a handy “bird-safe” mode which turns off the loudspeaker and activates the quieter phone speaker (used for phone calls). Playing bird calls out loud can disrupt nature, especially during breeding season, so it’s best to listen to your recordings when you’re inside and away from wildlife.
If you happen to capture a really clear audio clip of a bird song or call, you can easily send it to the developers to help improve the identification system. It might even be used by researchers that are studying bird vocalisations.