Request for recordings

I am starting to develop neural networks with the aim of detecting, and ultimately identifying, nocturnal flight calls (NFCs). Neural networks require a lot of sample data to train, and ideally independent recordings on which to assess their performance. They need audio samples containing targets (i.e. NFCs) and audio samples containing other things that are not targets (all the other stuff we typically ignore, like barking dogs, squeaking bikes, creaking fences etc) so the network can learn to distinguish them. The more recordings I can use from a variety of locations and conditions, the better the algorithms will eventually be. If you are happy to contribute recordings, I’ve detailed below what I am looking for. If you can help with any or all of these, please email me and I will provide details for where you can upload files. Thank you in advance for your interest in this project.


Short clips containing calls identified to species

I need lots (hundreds, if not thousands) of examples of each flight call of each species we encounter in Europe. I need examples of close and distant individuals, so don’t worry if some clips aren’t the best, and if you have a sequence of calls as a bird approaches/moves away, these are great too. Key requirements are:

  • Ideally audio files should be WAV files; MP3s (e.g. on Xeno Canto) might be an option, but WAVs are always superior.
  • Files should have at least 2 seconds (ideally 5 seconds) of ambient noise before and after the call(s).
  • Files can be stereo or mono but should have no processing (e.g. no noise reduction, filters etc). The one exception to this is I think I can accept records with a low cut filter as might be implemented on some recorders to remove rumble (e.g. <250Hz).
  • I will need to know date (time if possible), location and recorder, either in the filename (e.g. 20190127-0138-Cambridge-SimonGillings-Turdus_merula.wav) or in some other documentation.


Short clips containing confusion sounds

If you have saved audio files of things that are confusingly similar to bird calls, I would gladly receive these too, following the same guidance on file format as above.


Longer audio files

I need longer audio files for two main reasons: 1) to extract samples of ambient background noises to allow the network to learn what isn’t a bird; 2) to test the neural network to check it detects all the calls in a long recording. It would be great to get files that span a range of conditions (e.g. calm to breezy; quiet to noisy neighbourhoods) and a range of bird activity levels, from nights with few birds to busy nights with an abundance and/or diversity of species to test the algorithms work under different conditions. Other requirements:

  • WAV files; stereo or mono, with no processing (low cut filter permissible)
  • At least 10 minutes duration, but otherwise can be as long as you like
  • Date, time, location plus any general indication of content (e.g. was it a night with a strong thrush passage)