Is There An App For Identifying Bird Calls

Is There An App For Identifying Bird Calls – Who sings here? Cornell’s updated Merlin app can listen and learn about you. Drew Weber / Cornell Lab of Ornithology Macaulay Library

Last year, as quarantine restrictions hit the US, new birders flocked to the free Merlin Bird ID app. The app, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, previously provided a way for users to identify nearby mysterious birds by description or photo. This summer, he discovered a cool feature: the ability to identify birds based on short audio clips of their songs, chirps, or calls.

Is There An App For Identifying Bird Calls

Starting in March 2020, the Merlin team saw an increase in the number of app downloads, a trend that continues. Drew Weber, Merlin project coordinator, said, “Not only are we getting more downloads, but the number of users continues to increase. This spring, 1.2 million people (and counting) in Merlin. “People are taking it down, getting into the bird, and they’re still getting into the bird this year, even though the reality of the lock and things like that are change,” he said. “It seems to have piqued their interest and made them interested.”

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This comes at a time when stories about the birds are being heard, especially in New York City, where selected rare birds have reached the level of secrecy. A train and a snowy owl decorate each other

, and the Mandarin duck was written about in New York Magazine in 2018 as if he were the next feathered influencer to meet.

Sound ID, which was launched on Merlin in June, has already received positive feedback from birders. The new audio recognition feature now joins the machine-based photo recognition app that became available to users around 2015.

“Before Sound ID came out, I think the biggest response was, ‘I think you can use this app to identify birds by sound!’ or ‘where Shazam is for birds,’ so it’s really good to convey that to people,” says Weber.

Birding Resources From The Cornell Lab Of Ornithology

We called the app “Merlin” because it’s a rare, almost magical way to figure out the birds you’ve seen (or at least that’s the goal we’re working on). — Merlin Bird ID (@MerlinBirdID) July 7, 2021

There are a few options for identifying birds by sound, including Bird Genie, Song Sleuth, and Smart Bird ID. Many use algorithms based on machine learning, but the accuracy of the results can vary due to environmental noise and individual variations in bird calls.

Merlin is already an established bird guide tool. It provides a complete system for a new feature that is useful for birders in addition to its advanced tools.

With Merlin, birds can turn on their phone’s microphone and ask it to hear what’s around them. The app will also show suggestions of what birds are singing or calling. The sound received by the instrument is then converted into a visual representation of the pattern called a spectrogram, which records the amplitude, frequency and duration of the sound.

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“Once you have images of real birds and trees or sound signals in the form of a spectrogram, you can use powerful computer vision tools to start building a model to identify those patterns,” says Grant Van Horn. research leader on the Merlin project.

Apart from audio identification, other ways to use the app to identify birds is to manually enter its physical characteristics and upload a photo.

In this case, the project requires some serious citizen science. The photo identification feature, as well as the new audio identification option, would not be possible without the Macaulay Lab of Ornithology Library database, which contains nearly 30 million stored bird photos and descriptions and more than 1.1 million bird sounds the bird raised.

One group also worked on turning the media into a useful tool. They started building the Merlin Photo ID in 2012, around the same time that computer vision was making advances. “We knew that if we could collect data, we could use these tools to create something useful that would allow a person to take a picture and have a computer tell them what’s in that picture,” said Van. Horn says. By 2015, the lab could allow citizen scientists to upload photos and audio to the growing collection. Since the introduction of the photo ID feature in the application, it has been improved by adding a photo ID and expanding the coverage to new regions in South America, Africa, Asia and Europe. “Machine learning works best if you have this great database that you can build on,” explains Van Horn.

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The source of the video clips and photographs that entered the Macaulay Library comes from another program run by the lab called eBird, which began in 2002. The eBird application allows citizen scientists and Countries around the world record and share bird footage, including with scientists who study and map bird populations.

“Because we have collected this data over such a long period of time, we have a good idea, if you are in New York on July 19, what kind of species you can meet,” says Van Horn. “This type of information really helps us with audio ID and photo ID because it allows us to immediately take the problem of 450 types for audio ID, 8,000 types for photo ID and help us close it with These 40 types are actually considered here.”

Advances in audio ID equipment have been slower than image ID “specifically because the process of going out and recording bird calls is not as popular as going out and taking pictures,” Van Horn says. “And really in the last three years or so, North America has been pretty much overshadowed by records.”

Around this time last year, the team decided they had enough audio data to build and launch an audio recognition system for popular brands in the US and Canada. They started to integrate all the data and select models.

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However, the problem of ambient noise is still a challenge for the engineering team. To solve this problem, they turned to the available audio data. These recordings can be traffic scenes, urban environments and engine noises – normal sounds that don’t come from birds. “We will convert these sounds into spectrograms and use them as negative examples of ‘that’s not a bird. Every time you see this, you don’t have to guess what kind of bird it is,” adds Van Horn. “It’s a balance of creating high-quality bird data and optimizing the sound quality of non-birds that we can show the machine and teach it what birds don’t.”

Then another job came. Since the success of the project depends on the quality of the data set, this means that Weber and Van Horn will organize and employ highly skilled people in the bird community to help them refine the audio files. is alive. types of records.

“In creating our dataset for the first release, I think we put about 2,000 hours of detail, plotting where the birds are singing, where different birds are singing,” Weber says. say. “It’s a volunteer effort by many people who go into this eBird data and monitoring.”

When the app was first released in 2014, it only included common birds of the US and Canada. In 2016, the first international brand was launched, starting in Mexico, Costa Rica and expanding to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and parts of Asia. “We still see about 75 percent of new and active workers in the US and Canada,” Weber says, but an increasing number of new types are being recorded around the world.

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As users around the world continue to submit sightings to the eBird database, new sightings are being incorporated into Merlin’s software and into the species’ research team’s insights. and places. Weber adds, “We update the picture and sound we have in this application for each model, so that we can improve the content we show in Merlin.”

Weber says some of the most surprising feedback they’ve received comes from users who aren’t paying attention. He says: “A live film and a spectrogram that can show birdsong completely blows them away. “And if he is a regular listener, or a young person losing the high points, a lot of people are really happy to be able to get some of that hearing back.”

The team is still working to improve the app and incorporate feedback from users. By working with local communities and local organizations, Van Horn believes that they can create a variety of useful tools that help people have a more interesting outdoor experience, especially.

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