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The Bird Wide Web™ is an independent, objective survey of birding resources available to anyone with an internet connection and an up-to-date web browser. Sites, apps, downloads, and other online offerings described here are all tested for the broadest compatibility with different devices and operating systems. Nothing on the web is perfect or guaranteed, but due diligence has been done, and suggestions for improvement to this site are always welcome.

May 2021

Dawn Chorus Project

NOTE: The 2021 Dawn Chorus Project runs May 1 - 31. Participants can join and contribute recordings at any time during that period.

UPDATE 4/29/21: The new Dawn Chorus app will be further expanded by the just-announced "Sonic Feather" art/science exploration, to be discussed in a future article.

The sudden reduction in human-created noise during the Lockdown Spring of 2020 revealed that rather than the season becoming "silent" as Rachel Carson long-ago feared, its sounds instead became an unmistakeable, exuberant, ubiquitous force of nature. Once the humans and their machines turned quiet, the daily "dawn chorus" began reverberating unimpeded around the planet. And not only did hobbyist bird-watcher/listeners notice, so, too, did bird-song recordists, who started documenting the global phenomenon with newly available clarity and fidelity. Thus was the Dawn Chorus Project[1] begun, spearheaded by scientists and volunteers associated with the Biotopia[2] museum in Munich, Germany, and inspired by Bernie Krause[3], the "founding parent of soundscaping".

Ornithologists and nature-sound enthusiasts have been recording avian vocalizations for years, of course, as several articles on this website have discussed. But with the advent of a quieter world and high-quality recording devices called cell phones in everyone's pockets with built-in, near-instant upload capabilities, the possibilties of an international citizen science endeavor became evident. No headphones or specialized microphones needed; simply point the phone out the window, off the porch, or across the street, and add your local choir members to the global, harmonious celebration of sunrise.

Released in late April 2021, there's now "an app for that", too! Available free for both iOS[4] and Android[5], the excellent Dawn Chorus mobile app is designed to work with the sound files our cell phones can produce, and add them automatically to the rapidly increasing Chorus archive and also to the maps being generated from it. The built-in voice/note/speech recording hardware and software of most phones on the market can do the job needed here, and there are, of course, a number of quality 3rd-party recording apps. However, the majority of Dawn Chorus Project participants will find they have what they need when they download the dedicated app, and that its interface is clear and intuitive. Every technical detail of what is happening under the hood is fully explained in the Recording Instructions[6], but with the app it's just "point and click". It even works offline.

The motto of the Project, "When people are silent, nature makes itself heard", reveals the fantastic work which has been done by pioneers in this field, having had previously to seek quiet locations away from cars, planes, chainsaws, and even barking/mooing/etc. domesticated animals. It was a keynote address by the well-qualified author of The Petersen Guides to Bird Song, Nathan Pieplow[7], at the April 2021 Godwit Days Festival, that prompted this review and your reviewer's participation in the Dawn Chorus Project. As Nathan explains toward the end of his excellent presentation[8] (around 39:30), while there is general agreement about how to describe the physical appearance of bird species, there is precious little uniformity on how to characterize their extensive vocalizations. And even less about what those many sounds might mean! He encourages all of us to become recordists more than photographers, and thus make a needed contribution to our hobby and to the science such reports can generate.

Incidentally, for those who really want to improve their recording capabilities and get the added ability to create visualizations ("spectrograms") of bird sounds they record, he recommends Song Sleuth[9] (free), which is better at recording than automatic identification. iPhone users might prefer SpectrumView[10] (with a free "light" version), which is more technical, but does not purport to identify songs, only record and analyze any sound.

Intrigued by these notions? Want to hear what 2020-21's Dawn Chorus Project sounds like? Their interactive map[11] (best on Chrome; map link is in German) allows us to hear uploaded recordings from global locations and participants. Just as this reviewer has argued for a "virtual sightings" list, perhaps it's time to introduce "virtual hearings"? Listen carefully, there will be a quiz.

RECENT ARTICLES

April 2021:

Virtual Birding Festivals

Add to your virtual lifelist through sightings at online festivals, with free and real-time events.

March 2021:

'Alalā

Online sighting opportunities from captive breeding program of "extinct" Hawai'ian Crow

February 2021:

Online Birding Games

Fun, play, learning, and even Fantasy Birding!

January 2021:

Birdability™

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility come to the birding world.

December 2020:

eBird III - The Count

Community science projects require accurate counting, so eBird and others offer tips, tricks, and tests.

November 2020:

Merlin App

Amazing bird image recognition and identification resource, tested with various photographs.

October 2020:

Bird Videos: The Features

Reviews of several full-length fiction and documentary bird-centered films available online, both pay-for-view and free.

September 2020:

(Best) Bird Cartoons

Remarkable work by Australian editorial cartoonist First Dog on the Moon.

August 2020:

Hawk Watch Reports

Sources for reports of migratory raptor sightings on a local, regional, and national level.

July 2020:

Rare Bird Alerts

Sources for reports of unusual sightings on a local, regional, and national level.

June 2020:

Online Bird Quizzes

An array of fun skills challenges, from ID to songs, and from easy to hard.

May 2020:

Bird Videos - The Sequel

Unique collections of bird-related videos, mostly free, including songs, lessons, and an engaging documentary series.

April 2020:

Birding Ethics

Ethical considerations of many aspects of birding, from location and methods to reporting and goals.

March 2020:

ABA Online Resources

Extensive bird-related material available for non-members on the American Birding Association website.

February 2020:

BirdCast

Migration patterns of birds revealed through real-time analysis of weather radar signals.

The Bird Wide Web™ will be publishing a new article each month.

Recent Favorites:

April 2021

ALALA FAQ

March 2021

ALALA FAQ

February 2021

FANTASY BIRDING

January 2021

BIRDON BRAILLE HOODIE

December 2020

SIBLEY'S ESTIMATING QUIZZES

November 2020

MERLIN APP

October 2020

NIGHT PARROT STORIES

September 2020

BIRD OF THE YEAR

August 2020

HAWK MIGRATION STUDIES

July 2020

BIG YEAR BLOGS

June 2020

SIBLEY GUIDES QUIZZES

May 2020

BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA

April 2020

BIRDALERT

March 2020

ABA

See the full Collection