Monday, 10 August 2015

The ones that fail

This quiet summer spell has given us a chance to catch up on analysing the recordings that we've been sent from ChirpOMatic (our new automatic birdsong identifier). And as well as listening to the successful recordings, we've also analysed the reasons that the app has failed to identify some sounds, and we noticed a strange trend. The app cannot identify a bird if it can't hear it - but the reason for this is different for each of the three versions of the app.

The majority of failed British recordings are as a result of the wind blowing across the microphone - the wind creates a loud roar on the recording, masking everything else (a scenario familiar to anyone who has tried to video an outdoor wedding).

Typical British fail

The majority of failed German recordings are due to people continuing loud conversations while they record the bird. 

And the majority of failed Swedish recordings are because the bird was so far away and so quiet that it was masked by the sound of the internal workings of the phone.

Typical Swedish fail - this was not the quietest, but listen, you can hear him breathe!

There is quite a bit of overlap, particularly when it comes to talking over the recording. We have some excellent recordings of people calling their dogs, slurping cups of tea, making bird noises and one whole series of recordings of a family having breakfast while in holiday in Spain (I suspect the children were secretly recording). Here are a couple of other favourite fails:

So in conclusion, there are just a couple of simple rules to remember when using the app:
1. The bird needs to be the loudest sound. Talking is actually ok as long as it is quieter than the bird.
2. The bird needs to sing for a minimum of around 4-5 seconds. Two or three single chirps is not enough.

That's it!

Next time, I'll post some of the best recordings that we've been sent :).