Bird Fact Friday: the Baltimore Oriole (as seen on BirdGenie!)

This week’s Bird Fact Friday highlights the Baltimore Oriole, as seen on BirdGenie. Here are some interesting facts about the bird:

  • This bird is melodious, canopy-dwelling, and strikingly plumaged.
  • They are often heard in the spring in Eastern parks and backyards, or high in deciduous trees in open woodlands and edges.
  • They are medium-sized songbirds, ranging from yellow-orange to a brilliant deep orange, with gray or black heads and backs, wing bars, and long curved bills.
  • These acrobatic feeders prefer fruit, flowers, and insects. They also may be attracted to feeders with cut oranges and bananas.
  • Baltimore Orioles live in sock-like hanging nests, which are woven over a period of a week or two by the female, often in an American Elm, maple, or cottonwood tree.
  • They have a lifespan of up to 12 years.
  • Population: 12 million and declining.

Have you seen (or heard) a Baltimore Oriole?

 

BirdGenie

BirdGenie™ is a breakthrough app that helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds in the backyard, local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! Just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie™ helps you identify the species. The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. And the app is easy to use. Just point your smartphone or tablet at a bird, and tap the screen when the bird starts singing. The app’s automatic pre-record feature ensures that you won’t miss the beginning of the song and BirdGenie’s™ patented, highly accurate expert system matches the recording to the closest species. The app’s sophisticated noise-reduction feature means that even in noisy environments, where there is conversation or traffic, you can discover what bird you’re listening to.

Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere.

Perfect for anyone who wants to know what birds are singing around them, BirdGenie™ takes bird identification to a whole new awesome level.

With BirdGenie™ you can:

  • Quickly identify most birds just by recording their songs
  • Look at vivid images of the bird—some in 3-D!
  • Listen to samples of the bird’s various songs and compare them with your recording
  • Keep a log of all your recordings
  • Share your recordings, matches, and photos with friends and family
  • Browse the built-in catalog to learn about local species, their other songs, their habits and diet, and much more
  • Use the app anywhere, as no internet connection is required!

Important features of BirdGenie™:

  • The matching expert system beats anything in the market today
  • Easy-to-use guided user interface
  • Effective noise-reduction system helps users make identifications in less-than-ideal environments
  • Complete species accounts with multiple photos for all plumage types (some with 3-D models)
  • Comprehensive spectrograms (voiceprints of songs)

Technical Specifications:

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7, 8, X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

Bird Fact Friday – the Indigo Bunting (as seen on BirdGenie!)

This week’s Bird Fact Friday highlights the Indigo Bunting, as seen on BirdGenie. Here are some interesting facts about the bird:

  • This bird is vocal, edge-dwelling and active
  • They are common in summer in the East and the Southwest in brushy edges and fields
  • They are small, short-tailed, and sturdy.
  • Recognizable by their stout conical bill; males are bright blue, females brown.
  • These birds eat insects, seeds, and berries.
  • They are frequently found in concealed nest sites close to the ground.
  • They remain solitary in breeding season but may flock in migration.
  • They have a lifespan of up to 8 years.
  • Population: 28 million and decreasing.

Have you seen (or heard) a Barred Owl?

 

BirdGenie

BirdGenie™ is a breakthrough app that helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds in the backyard, local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! Just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie™ helps you identify the species. The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. And the app is easy to use. Just point your smartphone or tablet at a bird, and tap the screen when the bird starts singing. The app’s automatic pre-record feature ensures that you won’t miss the beginning of the song and BirdGenie’s™ patented, highly accurate expert system matches the recording to the closest species. The app’s sophisticated noise-reduction feature means that even in noisy environments, where there is conversation or traffic, you can discover what bird you’re listening to.

Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere.

Perfect for anyone who wants to know what birds are singing around them, BirdGenie™ takes bird identification to a whole new awesome level.

With BirdGenie™ you can:

  • Quickly identify most birds just by recording their songs
  • Look at vivid images of the bird—some in 3-D!
  • Listen to samples of the bird’s various songs and compare them with your recording
  • Keep a log of all your recordings
  • Share your recordings, matches, and photos with friends and family
  • Browse the built-in catalog to learn about local species, their other songs, their habits and diet, and much more
  • Use the app anywhere, as no internet connection is required!

Important features of BirdGenie™:

  • The matching expert system beats anything in the market today
  • Easy-to-use guided user interface
  • Effective noise-reduction system helps users make identifications in less-than-ideal environments
  • Complete species accounts with multiple photos for all plumage types (some with 3-D models)
  • Comprehensive spectrograms (voiceprints of songs)

Technical Specifications:

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7, 8, X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

Bird Fact Friday: the Barred Owl (as seen on BirdGenie!)

This week’s Bird Fact Friday highlights the Barred Owl, as seen on BirdGenie. Here are some interesting facts about the bird:

  • This owl is large, sedentary, and dark-eyed. It is also loudly vocal.
  • Originally an Eastern bird, this owl has spread to the Pacific Northwest, sometimes competing with Spotted Owls.
  • They are mottled brown, without ear tufts, and have short, rounded tails.
  • Barred Owls are often found perched in large trees in mature mixed forests, often near water. These areas are more likely to have cavities for nesting and a diverse range of prey, especially small mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and invertebrates.
  • Pairs likely mate for life, and use largely unmodified cavities for nesting.
  • They are sometimes predated by Great-horned Owls
  • They have a lifespan of up to 24 years.
  • Population: 3 million and increasing.

Have you seen (or heard) a Barred Owl?

 

BirdGenie

BirdGenie™ is a breakthrough app that helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds in the backyard, local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! Just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie™ helps you identify the species. The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. And the app is easy to use. Just point your smartphone or tablet at a bird, and tap the screen when the bird starts singing. The app’s automatic pre-record feature ensures that you won’t miss the beginning of the song and BirdGenie’s™ patented, highly accurate expert system matches the recording to the closest species. The app’s sophisticated noise-reduction feature means that even in noisy environments, where there is conversation or traffic, you can discover what bird you’re listening to.

Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere.

Perfect for anyone who wants to know what birds are singing around them, BirdGenie™ takes bird identification to a whole new awesome level.

With BirdGenie™ you can:

  • Quickly identify most birds just by recording their songs
  • Look at vivid images of the bird—some in 3-D!
  • Listen to samples of the bird’s various songs and compare them with your recording
  • Keep a log of all your recordings
  • Share your recordings, matches, and photos with friends and family
  • Browse the built-in catalog to learn about local species, their other songs, their habits and diet, and much more
  • Use the app anywhere, as no internet connection is required!

Important features of BirdGenie™:

  • The matching expert system beats anything in the market today
  • Easy-to-use guided user interface
  • Effective noise-reduction system helps users make identifications in less-than-ideal environments
  • Complete species accounts with multiple photos for all plumage types (some with 3-D models)
  • Comprehensive spectrograms (voiceprints of songs)

Technical Specifications:

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7, 8, X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

Bird Fact Friday: The Eastern Phoebe (as seen on BirdGenie)!

This week’s Bird Fact Friday highlights the Eastern Phoebe, as seen on BirdGenie. Here are some interesting facts about the bird:

  • These birds are tail-wagging, solitary, active flycatchers.
  • They’re common in the East in warmer months, and are early spring migrants.
  • The Eastern Phoebe’s are medium-sized and large-headed, with gray-brown back and buffy or white underparts.
  • They nearly always wag their tails when perched.
  • Typically, they perch low and fly out to catch insects, which are its primary food source (along with occasional seeds and berries).
  • Their nests are typically made of mud and vegetation, often on human structures with ledges, niches, walls, or other solid bases.
  • They have a lifespan of up t o 10 years.
  • Population: 32 million and stable.

Have you seen (or heard) an Eastern Phoebe?

 

BirdGenie

BirdGenie™ is a breakthrough app that helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds in the backyard, local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! Just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie™ helps you identify the species. The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. And the app is easy to use. Just point your smartphone or tablet at a bird, and tap the screen when the bird starts singing. The app’s automatic pre-record feature ensures that you won’t miss the beginning of the song and BirdGenie’s™ patented, highly accurate expert system matches the recording to the closest species. The app’s sophisticated noise-reduction feature means that even in noisy environments, where there is conversation or traffic, you can discover what bird you’re listening to.

Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere.

Perfect for anyone who wants to know what birds are singing around them, BirdGenie™ takes bird identification to a whole new awesome level.

With BirdGenie™ you can:

  • Quickly identify most birds just by recording their songs
  • Look at vivid images of the bird—some in 3-D!
  • Listen to samples of the bird’s various songs and compare them with your recording
  • Keep a log of all your recordings
  • Share your recordings, matches, and photos with friends and family
  • Browse the built-in catalog to learn about local species, their other songs, their habits and diet, and much more
  • Use the app anywhere, as no internet connection is required!

Important features of BirdGenie™:

  • The matching expert system beats anything in the market today
  • Easy-to-use guided user interface
  • Effective noise-reduction system helps users make identifications in less-than-ideal environments
  • Complete species accounts with multiple photos for all plumage types (some with 3-D models)
  • Comprehensive spectrograms (voiceprints of songs)

Technical Specifications:

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7, 8, X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

Bird Fact Friday: The Blue Jay (As Seen on BirdGenie!)

This week’s Bird Fact Friday highlights the Blue Jay, as seen on BirdGenie. Here are some interesting facts about the bird:

  • These are social, intelligent, alarm birds.
  • They’re common in the Eastern US and Canada.
  • They prefer forest edges, parks, and towns, especially near oaks, as acorns are a favorite food along with other nuts and insects.
  • Blue jays are large, bright blue, and black and white crested.
  • These birds can carry up to five acorns, and can cache thousands in a season.
  • They have a variety of calls, usually given while perched, including mimicry of Red-shouldered and Red-tailed hawks.
  • Up to twenty percent of all ages of Blue Jays migrate each year, but the mechanism is not well understood.
  • They often mate for life.
  • Their lifespan is up to 17 years.
  • Population: 13 million and slightly declining.

Have you seen (or heard) an the Blue Jay?

 

BirdGenie

BirdGenie™ is a breakthrough app that helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds in the backyard, local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! Just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie™ helps you identify the species. The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. And the app is easy to use. Just point your smartphone or tablet at a bird, and tap the screen when the bird starts singing. The app’s automatic pre-record feature ensures that you won’t miss the beginning of the song and BirdGenie’s™ patented, highly accurate expert system matches the recording to the closest species. The app’s sophisticated noise-reduction feature means that even in noisy environments, where there is conversation or traffic, you can discover what bird you’re listening to.

Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere.

Perfect for anyone who wants to know what birds are singing around them, BirdGenie™ takes bird identification to a whole new awesome level.

With BirdGenie™ you can:

  • Quickly identify most birds just by recording their songs
  • Look at vivid images of the bird—some in 3-D!
  • Listen to samples of the bird’s various songs and compare them with your recording
  • Keep a log of all your recordings
  • Share your recordings, matches, and photos with friends and family
  • Browse the built-in catalog to learn about local species, their other songs, their habits and diet, and much more
  • Use the app anywhere, as no internet connection is required!

Important features of BirdGenie™:

  • The matching expert system beats anything in the market today
  • Easy-to-use guided user interface
  • Effective noise-reduction system helps users make identifications in less-than-ideal environments
  • Complete species accounts with multiple photos for all plumage types (some with 3-D models)
  • Comprehensive spectrograms (voiceprints of songs)

Technical Specifications:

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7, 8, X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

Bird Fact Friday: The American Goldfinch (as seen on BirdGenie!)

This week’s Bird Fact Friday highlights the American Goldfinch, as seen on BirdGenie. Here are some interesting facts about the bird:

  • They are acrobatic, gregarious, and vocal
  • They’re common throughout much of North America in weedy fields, riparian areas, farms, roadsides and backyards
  • They’re small and bright yellow with a black cap in the summer; drab olive and patchy in the winter; unstreaked, with wing bards and a notched tail
  • Often occuring in flocks; buoyant, undulating flight style
  • They have a conical bill which is adapted to seed eating; diet is exclusively vegetarian
  • They favor sunflower and thistle seed at feeders
  • These birds are late nesters in June and July, to take advantage of seeding milkweed, thistle, and other plants
  • They often call in flight, with a bouncy and undulating call style
  • Their lifespan is up to ten years
  • Population: 42 million and stable

Have you seen (or heard) an American Goldfinch?

 

BirdGenie

BirdGenie™ is a breakthrough app that helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds in the backyard, local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! Just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie™ helps you identify the species. The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. And the app is easy to use. Just point your smartphone or tablet at a bird, and tap the screen when the bird starts singing. The app’s automatic pre-record feature ensures that you won’t miss the beginning of the song and BirdGenie’s™ patented, highly accurate expert system matches the recording to the closest species. The app’s sophisticated noise-reduction feature means that even in noisy environments, where there is conversation or traffic, you can discover what bird you’re listening to.

Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere.

Perfect for anyone who wants to know what birds are singing around them, BirdGenie™ takes bird identification to a whole new awesome level.

With BirdGenie™ you can:

  • Quickly identify most birds just by recording their songs
  • Look at vivid images of the bird—some in 3-D!
  • Listen to samples of the bird’s various songs and compare them with your recording
  • Keep a log of all your recordings
  • Share your recordings, matches, and photos with friends and family
  • Browse the built-in catalog to learn about local species, their other songs, their habits and diet, and much more
  • Use the app anywhere, as no internet connection is required!

Important features of BirdGenie™:

  • The matching expert system beats anything in the market today
  • Easy-to-use guided user interface
  • Effective noise-reduction system helps users make identifications in less-than-ideal environments
  • Complete species accounts with multiple photos for all plumage types (some with 3-D models)
  • Comprehensive spectrograms (voiceprints of songs)

Technical Specifications:

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7, 8, X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

 

Tom Stephenson on the BirdGenie App

Where did the idea for BirdGenie’s technology come from?

TS: I was a musician and played concerts and worked in studios for many years. During this time I became interested in sound design and processing technologies. I continued this interest at Roland Corporation, where I finally got a “real” job, designing multi-channel recorders and mixing consoles. After retiring as director of technology of one of the divisions, I finally had more time for birding.

I had always been interested in vocalizations, often sketching out the shape of songs I was learning. Bird songs are often highly variable from individual to individual across one species. I wanted to find out what unifying elements allowed a member of a species, or us humans, to look beyond those variations and identify a bird as a member of one species.

As part of this study I wrote an article for ABA’s Birding magazine outlining how to identify the songs of different thrasher species, highly variable mimics, using the structure of their songs. Realizing how powerful this kind of analysis could be was a breakthrough for me. I began looking at spectrograms, which are graphics representations, of many different kinds of bird songs. I was trying to find the unifying structures underlying all of the songs of one species.

I was also comparing the general structure of all songs. Were there any universal constants that could help us notice the key unifying features that make one species’ songs unique? These studies, including basics like the elements, phrases and sections of songs, led to the breakthrough vocabulary and analysis of vocalizations in the book I wrote with Scott Whittle, The Warbler Guide.

My background work in signal processing and audio analysis as a musician and designer led me to think more broadly about how these song criteria could be formalized and stereotyped so they could even be used by a computer to help with song identification. After working on this for some time I filed for a patent on these methods and concepts for identifying animal vocalizations, which was finally granted a few years ago now. Sorry for the long-winded answer!

Did you do the programming yourself?

TS: No. That’s tough work! But I had been thinking about how to implement these ideas for some time. I went to an audio trade show and ran into a friend. He had just started working at a prominent software company that created products with highly sophisticated signal processing. I asked him if their processing technologies might work with my ideas. He thought they would and became very interested in the project.

I went up to their offices in, Cambridge, MA, and gave a presentation about the size of the birding marketplace and my strategies. They got excited about these ideas and assigned two engineers to work with me on the project. They first researched all of the academic papers on the topic, and then developed programs to implement those strategies.

The state of the art then, and even now, is black-box-machine-learning. Basically you feed a computer with lots of known examples which are analyzed using a variety of processing tools. The computer develops a map of features for each type. You then present the computer with a new example and it applies those mapped criteria and tries to make an identification. This system works well for music identification and even voice recognition, however birds are just a lot more variable.

We started with warbler songs because I had been working on them for some time and had a good library of examples. After some development time, the program started working very well about 70% of the time. But based on the mistaken identifications it made, I could see the “black box” wasn’t using much of my system. For example, a species, whose songs always have at least two sections, might be mistaken for a species that only sings one-section songs.  When I pointed this out to the programmers they said they could try and “train” the black box with more examples, but they didn’t have any way of seeing the computer’s rules or modifying them manually. That’s why they call it a “black box” system.

I realized that, even though this was state-of-the-art, it wasn’t going to work well with bird songs. I needed a system that allowed for direct injection of the ID criteria I had found to be fundamental to identifying highly variable bird songs. They agreed and the CEO put me in touch with Stephen Pope, who became our programmer for BirdGenie’s engine. He had an extensive background in music technologies, signal processing and computer programming. He immediately understood the need for a new way of designing the engine, using black-box strategies but supplementing them more types of machine learning and with a user-driven rule set and other strategies that could take advantage of my prior work.

A sample of the BirdGenie app.

So is that what makes BirdGenie different from other programs on the market?

TS: Yes, most definitely. BirdGenie’s patented strategies are unique and effective. We use a wide range of rule-based strategies that we can control, modify and improve, which is very different from the standard black-box methods.

When I started working with Stephen my first requirement was that the whole system be transparent. I wanted to be able to “see” what the computer was finding relevant and then modify or add other criteria. So the first program he created was a Tool that shows all of the ID criteria and how they are weighted. We then added more than thirty additional criteria that reflect the important structures and underlying features for all bird songs. And in addition to these general rules, we can add more criteria that are specific to each individual species. Some features, like density and ratio of harmonics, or relationship of silences between elements to element lengths; are not detectable by the human ear, but can be very effective ID criteria.

Stephen’s background at Stanford’s CCRMA, UC Berkley’s CNMAT and Xerox PARC programs made him uniquely qualified to work on the project. Bird song is actually much more difficult than music or even human voice. It’s highly variable and that’s why our methods work so well, using the underlying structures and the similarities that allow even us humans to identify a singing bird.

How do you think users will benefit from BirdGenie?

TS: BirdGenie can help users identify almost all of the birds they find in their backyard or local park. People who feed birds, take hikes, or just enjoy walking in their local natural areas, are often surrounded by singing birds that can be hard-to-see. BirdGenie can help them find the identify of these hidden songsters and learn more about the natural bird life around them.

Here’s an example. I was visiting a family that had a small suburban backyard and a couple of bird feeders. They recognized the Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals and Downy Woodpeckers that visited regularly.

But during a June visit I stepped outside and in about fifteen minutes heard over twenty species of birds singing in their yard. We looked them all up and they realized they had seen most of them, at least briefly. The loud singing of one species, the House Wren, had baffled them for years. Once they realized what a great species that is, they went out and bought a small bird house which it now nests in every year.

We’re hoping that being able to identify and learn more about all of their great local birds, will allow people to enjoy nature even more than they do now, and maybe even get more involved in conservation.

A screenshot of BirdGenie as it records the bird sounds around its user.

Is BirdGenie kid-friendly?

TS: The better question might be “Is it adult friendly?!!” Kids are such great adopters of technology that often they’re more fluent with an iPhone or Android than adults. That being said, we spent a lot of time and resources making BirdGenie very easy to use. The screens and user interface are very simple.  

That might sound like an obvious thing, but actually it takes a lot of work. Simple is not nearly as easy as confusing! We worked with two different design firms, and have done hours of field testing to make sure everything in the program is simple and intuitive, even for adults!

Beyond helping users learn more about their local birds, does BirdGenie have any other benefits?

TS: Yes, we hope so. Users can choose to share their recordings and IDs with us. This is all anonymous, of course. But these data could be very valuable for research.

For example, right now there is no easy way for a scientist to study how Song Sparrow songs vary across the U.S. and Canada. Of course they could get grant money and spend a year or more traveling from state to state. But with BirdGenie’s shared song data, we could generate a large sample set of Song Sparrow songs all across the U.S.

Once we have it, we will make this information available to researchers, who could then use it to target studies in local song dialects and possibly learn more about how songs are learned, the status and distribution of species during different seasons, and more.

Last question: What is the Match Assist feature in BirdGenie?

TS:  Match Assist is a feature unique to BirdGenie. Birds often sing in noisy environments or are difficult to get close enough to so for a good recording. Of course BirdGenie uses powerful noise reduction tools. Even if there are people talking or lawn mowers are going, BirdGenie can usually isolate the bird song and make the identification.

But in cases of really distant birds, or multiple birds singing at once, we have provided an additional tool to help with the identification process. That’s Match Assist. Using this unique feature, users can choose to answer 3 or 4 simple questions about different aspects of a song they recorded. The engine can then use the answers to further isolate a song and make an ID.

For example, one question is whether the bird is singing one sound over and over again, like an American Crow or a Blue Jay, or many different sounds, like a House Wren. This not only can assist in the ID process but also is a way users can learn more about the structure and characteristics of the songs around them.

In many ways, BirdGenie is really an educational tool. It helps users learn more about what birds are singing and living around them, and also helps users become more aware of bird song in general and what makes songs so unique and beautiful.

Bird Fact Friday: The Cedar Waxwing (as seen on BirdGenie!)

This week’s Bird Fact Friday highlights the Cedar Waxwing, as seen on BirdGenie. Here are some interesting facts about the bird:

  • They are flock-oriented, colorful fruit eaters
  • They’re common throughout much of North America in woodlands and open fields, parks and edges, especially near streams
  • They’re medium-sized, slender, crested, large-headed and short-billed. They have brownish heads, chest and back basding to gray, black masks, yellow tail tips, and red spots on their wings. Their smooth tones almost looks airbrushed
  • The red wing tips are waxy secretions, whose function is not known
  • They’re often first detected by their high, thin cals
  • They’re one of the few North American fruit specialists, only occasionally supplementing diet with insects
  • Planting native trees like dogwood or serviceberry may attract waxwings
  • They have a lifespan of up to 8 years
  • Population: ~52 million and stable

Have you seen (or heard) a waxwing?

 

BirdGenie

BirdGenie™ is a breakthrough app that helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds in the backyard, local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! Just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie™ helps you identify the species. The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. And the app is easy to use. Just point your smartphone or tablet at a bird, and tap the screen when the bird starts singing. The app’s automatic pre-record feature ensures that you won’t miss the beginning of the song and BirdGenie’s™ patented, highly accurate expert system matches the recording to the closest species. The app’s sophisticated noise-reduction feature means that even in noisy environments, where there is conversation or traffic, you can discover what bird you’re listening to.

Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere.

Perfect for anyone who wants to know what birds are singing around them, BirdGenie™ takes bird identification to a whole new awesome level.

With BirdGenie™ you can:

  • Quickly identify most birds just by recording their songs
  • Look at vivid images of the bird—some in 3-D!
  • Listen to samples of the bird’s various songs and compare them with your recording
  • Keep a log of all your recordings
  • Share your recordings, matches, and photos with friends and family
  • Browse the built-in catalog to learn about local species, their other songs, their habits and diet, and much more
  • Use the app anywhere, as no internet connection is required!

Important features of BirdGenie™:

  • The matching expert system beats anything in the market today
  • Easy-to-use guided user interface
  • Effective noise-reduction system helps users make identifications in less-than-ideal environments
  • Complete species accounts with multiple photos for all plumage types (some with 3-D models)
  • Comprehensive spectrograms (voiceprints of songs)

Technical Specifications:

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7, 8, X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

 

The BirdGenie™ App is Now Available to Download

Princeton University Press is pleased to announce that the BirdGenie™ app is now available for download in the iTunes and Android App Store*. This breakthrough app helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds —all with the tap of a button! The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere.

You can also sign up for email updates from BirdGenie™ on the Princeton University Press website.

Learn more about BirdGenie™, and our other birding titles, by following Princeton Nature on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

*Technical Specifications:

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7,8,X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

BirdGenie™ is a trademark of Princeton University Press.

PUP News of the World, May 23, 2014

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Each week we post a round-up of some of our most exciting national and international PUP book coverage. Reviews, interviews, events, articles–this is the spot for coverage of all things “PUP books” that took place in the last week. Enjoy!


BirdGenie

Planning your outdoor adventures for the upcoming summer? Picnic baskets, sunscreen — the list of outdoor essentials goes on. But this summer, PUP is adding another item to the list, and you won’t want to leave home without it.

BirdGenie™ is a remarkable app that enables anyone with a supported Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet to identify birds in the backyard, at the local park, or on the nature trail–all with the tap of a button! It’s like Shazam® for nature–just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie tells you what bird it is! This summer, PUP will be releasing two apps, each covering a separate region: Backyard Birds East and Backyard Birds West. This week, the apps were featured in Inside Higher Ed, and the article quotes one of the developers, Tom Stephenson, author of The Warbler Guide:

“The one thing about field guides is that the print medium isn’t quite sufficient for the information that you’re trying to relay, but it’s been the only vehicle up until recently. Having a vehicle like an app or an ebook that has multimedia capabilities is not only natural, but really adds a lot value. The song identification app is another step further.”

Each regional app contains eighty vocalization types for sixty bird species, covering almost all of the birds you are likely to encounter. When you hear a singing bird and make a clear recording with your smartphone or tablet, BirdGenie identifies the bird if it is an included species, tells you exactly how confident it is that the identification is correct, and provides audio samples of the bird’s various songs to compare with your own recording, as well as color photos, useful information, and links to further reading. No internet connection is needed, making BirdGenie accessible everywhere you go.

COUNT LIKE AN EGYPTIAN

For those who have mastered — or almost mastered — modern math, we’re traveling back in time to bring you a curve-ball problem. David Reimer’s Count Like an Egyptian provides a fun, hands-on introduction to the intuitive and often-surprising art of ancient Egyptian math. Reimer guides you step-by-step through addition, subtraction, multiplication, and more. He even shows you how fractions and decimals may have been calculated–they technically didn’t exist in the land of the pharaohs. You’ll be counting like an Egyptian in no time, and along the way you’ll learn firsthand how mathematics is an expression of the culture that uses it, and why there’s more to math than rote memorization and bewildering abstraction.

The book was reviewed in the Washington Post. Nancy Szokan says:

You get the feeling that David Reimer must be a pretty entertaining teacher. An associate professor of mathematics at the College of New Jersey, he has taken on the task of explaining ancient math systems by having you use them. And though it’s not easy, he manages to lead you, step by step, through a hieroglyphic based calculation of how many 10-pesu loaves of bread you can make from seven hekat of grain.

Professor Reimer also puts his book to the “Page 99 test” (open your book to page 99 and see a snapshot of the book). Check it out! Prefer to start from the beginning? You can also read the introduction here.

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ENLIGHTENING SYMBOLS

Don’t leave the post just yet, mathematics fans. Our author, Joseph Mazur, wrote a piece for the Guardian this week about the origins of mathematical symbols. His book, Enlightening Symbols, explains the fascinating history behind the development of our mathematical notation system. He shows how symbols were used initially, how one symbol replaced another over time, and how written math was conveyed before and after symbols became widely adopted.

He writes:

A few years ago friends and I were talking about the origins of written music. When the conversation turned to the origins of math symbols, I was surprised to learn that few people knew that almost all maths was written rhetorically before the 16th century, often in metered poetry. Most people think symbols for addition, subtraction or equality had been around long before Euclid wrote his Elements in the first century BCE. No! The original Elements is rhetorical. There are no symbols in Euclid’s works, aside from the letters marking the ends of lines and corners of geometric objects. There are no symbols in any early Arab algebra books. Nor do we find any in early European printed algebra books.

Check out Chapter One of his book.

LIBERALISM

This week, the Economist published a review of a new book by Edmund Fawcett, Liberalism: The Life of an Idea. The piece says:

Sometimes it seems as if liberalism is slowly caving in. Western democracies are battered by partisanship and populism. Inequality is undermining social cohesion. Governments are unconvincingly shoring up expensive welfare states that have failed to match their promise. Meanwhile, the running is being made by places such as Turkey, which has an intolerant majority, and China and Russia, where power cannot be contested. “Liberalism” by Edmund Fawcett is not only a gripping piece of intellectual history, it also equips the reader to understand today’s threats—and how they might be withstood.

Check out the review in its entirety. Liberalism was released this spring. In this engrossing history of liberalism–the first in English for many decades–veteran political observer Edmund Fawcett traces the ideals, successes, and failures of this central political tradition through the lives and ideas of a rich cast of European and American thinkers and politicians, from the early nineteenth century to today.

Using a broad idea of liberalism, the book discusses celebrated thinkers from Constant and Mill to Berlin, Hayek, and Rawls, as well as more neglected figures. Its twentieth-century politicians include Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Willy Brandt, but also Hoover, Reagan, and Kohl. The story tracks political liberalism from its beginnings in the 1830s to its long, grudging compromise with democracy, through a golden age after 1945 to the present mood of challenge and doubt.

Read the Introduction here.