Learning to identify birdsong with Balbucam !

Balbucam is now able to offer a very original way to discover other animal life around the nest. Thanks to the new audio system installed for Balbucam Season 3 you will be able to hear a host of other birds such as the Greenfinch, the Blackcap, the Song thrush, the Chaffinch, the Chiffchaff, the Nuthatch, the Wren and lots of others. You’re used to hearing this birdsong but most of the time you might not be able to identify the species in question.

The Balbucam team has developed a system that uses state of the art technology to analyse the audio signal of the birdsong in real time and identify which species is singing. At the bottom of the live video page you will be able to see the real time list of birds that the system has identified. For each species a picture will be displayed along with the possibility to listen to a sample of its song.

How the project came about

The idea of developing an audio recognition system came up very early, during Season 1, in response to the many questions from viewers on the subject of the sounds heard around the nest, emitted by the local fauna, mostly birds.

Which birds have been identified so far ?

Here is the list of birds in the database so far that the system can recognize:

  • Great tit
  • Blackcap
  • Chaffinch
  • Chiffchaff
  • Greenfinch
  • Song thrush
  • Wren
  • Blue tit
  • Robin
  • Blackbird
  • Magpie
  • Carrion crow
  • Jay
  • Long-tailed tit
  • Common Buzzard
  • Eurasian Nuthatch

This list will be added to throughout the season and we hope to be able to identify at least 30 species by the end of the summer.

How reliable is the system ?

The tests that we’ve run show that we can obtain an identification success rate of about 70%, which is variable depending on the species in question. We should be able to improve on this during the season by adding the recordings to the database as they happen.

The efficiency of the system decreases as background noise increases (wind, aircraft, traffic).

What else could this system be used for ?

We could easily link the system to a statistical analysis tool and establish a biodiversity indicator based on the number of species identified. It could also be used to identify rare or uncommon species.

Is the audio identification system “open source”

The identification system is not yet published under Github but could become an open source project of other associations wish to use this technology.


Dan Stowell​, Mark D. Plumbley:
Automatic large-scale classification of bird sounds is strongly improved by unsupervised feature learning

James Lyons :  http://www.practicalcryptography.com/miscellaneous/machine-learning/guide-mel-frequency-cepstral-coefficients-mfccs/

Translation from French to English by Ian Stevenson (Thanks a lot Ian ).

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