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Birdsong not just for the birds
Date:7/28/2008

avi's warbler and the chaffinch. He listened carefully to the various types of birdsong, scrutinised them in a spectrogram and transferred the characteristics to algorithms. As soon as specific parameters are met, the programme kicks in. 'For example, the signal of the Savi's warbler has a mean frequency of 4 kHz, which is very typical. If, in addition, individual elements of the signal are repeated at a frequency of 50 Hz, this is detected as the call of a Savi's warbler,' Daniel explains. The chaffinch detector also analyses periodic repetitions of elements like these. In doing so it reveals more of a typical verse structure than the pitch of the chaffinch's song.

The Savi's warbler detector, particularly, which was subjected to long-term monitoring at Brandenburg's Parsteiner Weiher, is characterised by what researchers call 'robust recognition', i.e. a high degree of reliability. Despite interference from rain, wind and amphibians the programme recognised, with a 92% detection accuracy, the song of a species of bird which is still found on the shores of the Baltic but which has become rare elsewhere in Europe.

The birdsong detectors are as yet only calibrated for the birdsong of individual species. However, in the near future, Daniel Wulff thinks, it will be possible to link them up to a kind of superdetector which can recognise as many species as possible and, in combination with GPS coordinates, will make the mapping of bird populations simpler and more efficient.

The research field of bio-acoustics, he adds, is currently experiencing a boom. Although it was in the 1970s that the first attempts were made 'to detect the chaffinch with much slower computers,' Daniel says, with a nostalgic smile, 'what is decisive is that it's only now that we are in a position to store a large amount of recorded sound and place compact technology in nature which can really run for months, e.g. with solar energy.'


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Contact: Daniel Wolff
wolffd@iai.uni-bonn.de
49-022-873-4474
University of Bonn
Source:Eurekalert

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