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Song Sleuth: Auto Bird Song ID w/David Sibley Info

By Wildlife Acoustics

This app is only available on the App Store for iOS devices.


Song Sleuth turns your iPhone or iPad into an automatic bird song identifier covering the 200 most common vocalizing land birds in the U.S. Developed by Wildlife Acoustics, in collaboration with world-renowned bird expert and illustrator David Sibley, the app records bird songs and suggests matching species. The identification algorithms are the result of over a decade of research and experience designing professional bioacoustics recorders and software.

Not just for beginners, the app also has features for intermediate birders who might need an identification hint or wish to study the included example recordings to take their ear birding to the next level. Advanced birders who don’t need any identification help will appreciate the ability to make and keep recordings for further study.

Song Sleuth gets you started with suggested matches, but it is not perfect. Ultimately, it’s up to you to make the final identification. The app is intended to be an interactive and fun way to learn birding by ear. The more engaged you are in the process, the more we hope you will learn. Please read the following information on the app’s capabilities and limitations. You can also scroll to the bottom of this page and tap on “Developer Website” to learn more and watch a walk-through video to get a better sense of how the app works.
-The app does not identify simple calls, chips and scolds, only bird songs and more distinct calls that are characteristic of that species.
-The app does not recognize birds that are mimicking other birds such as the Thrashers and Mockingbird.
-It is ideal to get a recording of a single bird singing. The app can be confused by noise or background birds but tools are provided to trim and filter your recordings to improve the results.
- The app performs best outdoors with live birds, and not as well with pre-recorded sounds. Also, Song Sleuth automatically selects the birds that are likely to be in your area at the present time of year, so you need to be sure the birds you are playing are selected in the SPECIES LIST.

Simply press the record button when you hear a bird singing and the app begins recording a few seconds back in time using the built-in microphone. Tap the record button again when the song is complete and Song Sleuth immediately shows you three most likely species. To assist you in determining the correct bird, you can listen to your recording and the example recordings of the likely matches as well as compare their spectrograms side-by-side.

Recordings are saved in the RECORDING LIST where you can view the recording’s spectrogram, listen to the recording (and speed it up or slow down), add a text note, or view the GPS location. You can also trim the recording or filter the frequency range to remove extraneous sounds. Recordings can be shared with other Song Sleuth users via text messaging or email.

The included David Sibley Bird Reference lets you learn more about each species. The reference includes Sibley illustrations of each bird, a description of each bird and its songs, zoomable range maps and a bar chart showing the likelihood of each bird’s presence in your area throughout the year, using Sibley’s extensive database of bird presence.

Well-known nature recordist Lang Elliot and friends spent countless hours recording in the field to provide over 1,000 world-class recording examples of the included bird species. You can listen to a all the vocalizations made by each species or compare spectrograms to your own recordings or examples from other species.

Recording locations can be viewed on a satellite or road map or transferred to a computer and viewed in Google Earth. (Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life.)

What's New in Version 1.0.5

NOTE: If you are having issues using the app or think the suggested species matches are not correct, please review the FAQ which is available from the Information Screen of the app. Also make sure you have viewed the above linked tutorial video. Both of these resources provide information on how to get the best identification results and how to use all the tools provided by the app to help you determine the correct species. A word of caution: the app selects species to use in the identification process based on your location and the time of year. If you are testing by playing recorded sounds you need to be sure the bird is selected on the Species List screen. Also, a recording might sound similar to a real bird to you, but depending on the speaker and volume it can be different enough in non-obvious ways to confuse the app and lower accuracy.

+The app will now work with external microphones, both digital Lightning connector based microphones or analog microphones that use the headphone jack. The app will continue to ignore Bluetooth microphones so as to prevent unintended connection with automobiles and earpieces.
+Fixes many minor bugs and crash causes.
+Fixes a crash when entering Compare Mode which was happening frequently on some devices.
+Fixes an issue where certain display elements would be blank if the user select a non-English language in iOS settings. Je suis désolé.

+Changes many spectrogram elements to be much more visible when viewing the spectrogram with a gray color palette.
+Increases the recording level on iPhone, which was previously lower than iPad. This will result in louder recordings.
+Removes increased noise at the start of recording on some devices.
+Fixes a persistent issue where recordings would occasionally not start back in time, instead starting at the present.

+The audio is now much louder during playback of user recording on the Likely Matches screen. It is also louder when played from the recording list.
+Your recording now starts over when paused and restarted on the Likely Matches screen so you don’t need to listen to the entire recording during repeat listens.

+Updates the layout of the recording list for better legibility.

Select Version History from the Information screen to view these release notes again. Please email us by selecting "Contact Us" from the Information screen of the app with any suggestions, issues or questions. Happy birding!


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Customer Reviews

Too many issues...

I wanted to like this app. As I am a fairly decent burger, I know a good amount of bird sounds. I was hoping to use this app for the harder to identify songs, but it really hasn't been working out well. For example, I went out to a grassland area yesterday and was trying to differentiate between a song sparrow and a Savannah sparrow. When I used bird sleuth, it didn't even come up with either of those as an option-I knew it was one or the other-I think it came up with bobolink as the best guess. This is one of the best scenarios where there is little wind, only a few other birds singing distantly, and very little background noise. And it still had issues! If you had either of the above problems, your chances are next to nothing to properly get an ID. Furthermore, it causes issues with my iPhone 5s - once I open it, it is constantly running in the background and draining my battery- even if I close it. I literally have to reset my phone just to turn it off! The price point is fairly high - but I wouldn't have minded it - had it actually worked correctly. I bought this app fairly soon after it came out and there are frequent updates - hoping it will eventually get to my liking. To those considering purchasing, I'd recommend waiting or at least be patient!

Needs work, but encouraging

I realize creating an app like this must be challenging and thanks to the developer for taking it on. I have used the app quite a bit this spring 2017. As others state, it does mis-ID birds even based on reasonably good recordings. You would think, given the distinctive spectrograms of species, it could be more accurate. Also, good birders will frequently positively ID birds the app describes as rare, or not listed in the region species list, possibly contributing to app inaccuracy. On some occasions it has been accurate in helping me ID a bird, and that was rewarding and a good learning experience. I didnt expect perfection from this cutting edge technology. Keep working on it and improving it, developer!

App is good at recording bird songs

I am primarily interested in the app for recording bird songs, uploading the recordings to iCloud, and including recordings with my eBird observations. The app does a great job at that using an iPhone SE. I like how the app allows for "prerecording" by continuous monitoring. I like the ability of the app to clip portions of a recording. I also like that it allows me to identify the bird in the recording and store the recordings with proper identification. The ability of the app to id birds works marginally well.

Song Sleuth: Auto Bird Song ID w/David Sibley Info
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This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
  • $9.99
  • Category: Reference
  • Updated:
  • Version: 1.0.5
  • Size: 397 MB
  • Language: English
  • Seller:

Compatibility: Requires iOS 10.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

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