Have you ever wondered about the identification of some hidden, singing bird? Or perhaps you have studied tapes and CDs of bird songs over and over but still can’t get a handle on identifying birds by sound. Your difficulties at knowing birds by the noises they make may come to an end sooner than you think. Mark Berres, an ornithologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his graduate students have developed a smart phone application that identifies bird vocalizations. Actually, according to Mark, it goes much further and appears to even be capable of identifying individual birds.
Dr. Berres came up with the idea for WeBIRD (the Wisconsin Electronic Bird Identification Resource Database) after one of his students showed him an app. that could identify popular songs based on snippets of the music. A year later, they developed the WeBIRD application and claim that it works so well, it can even identify insect species. Mark has high hopes that this product will greatly aid both amateur bird watchers and ornithologists alike in identifying birds. While birders can use it to put a name to any number of unidentified singing birds, it may help researchers to carry out more bird censuses as well as undertake studies that require identifying individual birds.
The WeBIRD app is expected to be made available to the public by the spring of 2012. Even if it can only be used for the birds of Wisconsin, it’s an example of the types of apps that could be available to birders in the near future.