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Sound recording

My suggestion (May 2016)
For the best capture record in the highest quality available, in below setup 96 Khz/24 bit: But if you are not particulary picky with quality and just want a recording any way possible then use your mobile phone to record sounds. You can also attach an external mic to the phone and Røde has a great little mic that includes the important wind muff or wind sock (dead cat) Røde VideoMic Me. It works with both iPhone & Android phones (probably other phones as well). It is directional so a lot of ambient noise is eliminated.

I have a Canon 7D Mark II which has audio with its HD Video. It can be improved with the gear suggestion below. Note however that the suggested Röde VideoMic Pro will not transform your sound recording in leaps and bounds, just cut out the ambient noise. You most likely need a parabolic reflector to capture high quality bird sounds.

I thought that the Telinga parabolic reflector microphone, which is like a zoom lens but for sound recordings, was too expensive and bulky for my needs(495-750 USD). I also want a mic for DSLR video capture without having to mix in sound later. So I am thinking of using the below setup at half the price of the reference Telinga mic. Though you surely can get good recordings for less.

The workflow cannot be easier. I mount the mic on my camera plug it in, boost the signal with the onboard switch, and then record the bird sounds as I film. If I only want the sound, then I will connect the Røde mic to the Olympus recorder and set it to 96 000hz/24 bit, or for the less picky people just record directly with the built in mics of the Olympus LS-14. NOTE! this is far from using a Telinga parabolic reflector, but much better than the built-in mic on the camera

When at home I copy over the files from the unit to my laptop and delete the bad ones with the bundled software "Olympus Digital Wave Player". If I need to edit out a lot of disturbing noise or delete space/time then I use the "WavePad Sound Editor" which also works like a breeze.

Finally I save the sound recordings on my backup harddrive just as I do with the image files from the camera, under the date when I was in the field as well as under the species folder on the website.

Below recordings are old and with less than perfect tools, just those I had available at the time:





Bird Sound Recordings
When you see the speaker icon on a 'Gallery' bird page it will indicate that a recording exist, and that by clicking the icon you will be able to listen to some typical sounds of the bird; e.g., song, or common calls.


If the page doesn't have the speaker icon then go and look for the recording at one of these great sites:

If you cannot find a free sound clip above, look at buying it from below sites or of course from your App Store (see Mobile phone apps"): Equipment and Techniques
A beginners guide to field recording.

Review of different parabolic reflector mics

Visit Xeno-Canto and listen to some recordings and find out for yourself what sounds good to you. I liked recordings by Patrik Åberg and his Telinga/Olympus equipment choice is reflected in my suggestion (though he has an older Telinga mic).

Doug Von Gausig have shared his expertise of different sorts of sound equipment, and recording techniques on his site Naturesongs

Playback of bird sounds
Sibley Guides has a good article on the proper use of playback. In short avoid loud and prolonged playbacks. Avoid using it to lure very rare birds in breeding season where also other birders could potentially playback and thus increase the likelyhood of a spoiled breeding. The Proper Use of Playback in Birding






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