Nature’s Radio: listen to the birds sing on my microphone

As an avid ornithologist, nothing gives me more joy than the simple act of cleaning my binoculars (“trash cans” in ornithological slang). A pair of clean “trash cans” is the most essential tool a birder needs to spot and watch birds do what they do naturally. Birdwatching or “bird watching” involves watching and observing birds and their behaviors in their natural habitats. In other words, all birdwatchers love to bird watch, or “go birding”, or just “the birds”. Bird watching, as an activity, includes watching or admiring birds, photographing or filming them, counting or listing them, or recording their vocalizations, or all of the above!

Birds, on the other hand, enjoy singing, flocking, feeding, preening, migrating or breeding, in no particular order, among other daily or seasonal tasks. So, it is safe to say that bird watchers love birds, and birds love to sing – in the most general sense.

Well, what about bird watchers who love to listen to birds singing? The early bird gets the worm and the early bird faces the music: literally. Bird music! The fascinating experience of witnessing a progressive dawn rising with the increasing crescendo of birds singing their dawn chorus, cheering and clapping the rising sun, can match no other.

For the uninitiated (or early risers), this can’t match any other natural morning awakening in the world! So, birds are not only exciting to the average bird watcher, but are also of functional use to the average person, among other more compelling scientific reasons for the importance of birds and birdsong.

Birds are excellent ambassadors of our environment and birdsong is one indicator of the diversity of species. From adding new species to the Indian subcontinent using avian bioacoustics, to exploring the fascinating subject of vocal resemblance or mimicry between the calls of young parasitic cuckoos and that of their hosts or parents. nurturers, to understanding the taxonomy and distribution of birds, the sound of birds -recording plays a key role in the larger puzzle of understanding birds and their behaviors. It also directly contributes to efforts to conserve natural habitats.

Studying bird calls can aid conversation efforts for wildlife.
Photo credit: Puja Sharma

Contributing to this effort to better understand birds and our biodiversity, there is a small, albeit increasing, tribe of bird watchers who particularly enjoy listening to the radio sounds of nature birds. They don’t need to change channels to listen to today’s popular hits, they just need to tune their ears and a little practice!

As they say, no excellence can be achieved without constant practice. And many of the best birds happen when a bird watcher is in no rush! So, with a little practice and time, any bird watcher can become adept at identifying birds by their sounds.

The more you bird, the more you see, and the more it looks like a bird! Taking a snapshot with a camera allows you to capture a memory or a bird in a pretty photograph; remember what it looks like, where it was found and what it was doing when it was found. So how do birders learn and memorize the sounds of birds? Well, the more you listen, the more you learn, and the louder it sounds!

Each bird has a vocal repertoire that is unique to the species, and while learning their respective “calls” or “songs” can be done simply by listening to or watching a bird vocalize, capturing their vocalizations by making an audio recording can be done. a more effective way to adapt to the language of birds.

As an avid bird sound recorder, nothing gives me more joy than just pointing my microphone at a bird and pressing the record button on my field sound recorder, interview and candidly record anything he has to say or squeak. he chooses to pronounce! So what can be the most essential tool an ornithologist already has to get started with recording bird sounds? Check your pocket: your smartphone!

All you need to get started is to set up recording apps for Android or iOS devices and use some smartphone recording tips to get started! Be sure to practice good field recording techniques when observing birds and recording bird sounds; Whether you are using a smartphone or a more advanced system, it will go a long way in achieving quality results. And if you find yourself bitten by the sound recording virus (or the proverbial bird?), Consider investing in dedicated recording equipment, including digital audio recorders and microphones (a satellite dish or a shotgun microphone). , as well as some accessories (windshield, suspensions, etc.).

Since buying any equipment or utility machine, from automobiles and household appliances to a camera lens or binoculars, requires a bit of research, here is the latest review and specification of the equipment. audio recording from the Macaulay library with a detailed analysis of the best options to consider.

All in all, don’t forget the three basics of bird sound recording: find a singing bird, point your smartphone or microphone at it, and hit record! Don’t forget to upload your recordings to eBird so that the whole world can listen to your bird!


Puja is passionate about ornithology and bird sound recording (by “ardent” she actually means “mad”). As a bird-moth-flower / mountain-tree-star watcher, she has absolutely no sense of time. You can listen to his bird sound recordings at Macaulay Library or eBird. One of his recordings, among 30 recordings from around the world since 1929, was featured on the Macaulay Library: One Million Recordings playlist on SoundCloud.


This series is an initiative of the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), as part of its “Nature Communications” program to encourage nature content in all Indian languages. To learn more about birds and nature, Join The Flock.


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