What's that bird? Find out by letting your smartphone listen to its singing.
About 12 years ago, John Laumer wrote about a $400 standalone gadget from Wildlife Acoustics that used "a directional mic, an audio signal processing program, and a wave form matching database" to allow budding birders to identify birds by their songs. Considering the price, and the rather large form factor, of Song Sleuth, it's no surprise that the device didn't become a must-have gadget, but fast-forward to 2017, and that same technology can now "fit" right into your phone, as a $10 app that might help attract and inform beginning birders about our feathered friends.
The Song Sleuth app was just released for iOS, with an Android version in the works for this fall, and it not only helps people become better birders by helping them identify birds by their songs, but it also includes access to The David Sibley Bird Reference, which offers additional details about the birds, including the birds' seasonal range maps, song samples, and illustrations of their appearance.
"Advanced algorithms give Song Sleuth the ability to automatically recognize the songs of nearly 200 bird species likely to be heard in North America. Each time you make a recording, Song Sleuth will show you the three most likely bird species that it found. From there, you’ll have easy access to detailed information on each species." - Song Sleuth
Song Sleuth users need merely open the app, push the record button, and allow the app to listen in and record the bird's song, after which the users are presented with the three most probable birds that the song belongs to. A visual representation of the bird song's frequencies and timing is displayed as a "real-time spectrogram" on their screen, and users can compare the spectrogram of their recording with the reference recordings, which can help beginning birders hone their bird song skills.
Users can geotag their recordings, add custom notes to them, download the audio files for future reference, or even send their recordings to others via email of messaging apps, further adding to the social nature of the birding community (or used to attract more people to the art and science of birding).