App that can recognise bird sounds set for launch

Last updated at 06:50
Florence Wilkinson, Warblr chief executive, demonstrates the appKickstarter

Is it a swallow, a lark or a dove?

A new app that can automatically recognise bird sounds is to be launched in spring.

Warblr has been developed by two scientists.

The app works by identifying a recorded sound and then returns a list of the most likely results.

Dan Stowell, who helped developed the technology said the app was similar to the music-recognition service Shazam.

But there are still problems that need to be solved.

In three separate attempts, as part of a BBC test, the app was unable to correctly identify the bird.

Canada geeseGetty Images
Warblr struggled to distinguish between a canada goose and screaming child

"It is not perfect... this is obviously very new technology, so we have a bit of work to do still," said Warblr's co-founder Florence Wilkinson.

She demonstrated the app to the BBC by recording a Canada goose.

But she said that interference from a "screaming child" caused the app to mis-identify the calls as being a crow.

The correct answer appeared in second place.

In test two, she tried to identify a moor hen and some coots.

"I don't know if we can count that as a victory because the coot came up as the last result on the list although they are all pretty close," she said.

Moor henGetty Images
Warblr also had trouble identifying the moor hen

"We've got a few that are clearly wrong there, we've got the black-tailed godwit, a fieldfare, for example.

Although other apps, such as Bird Song ID, which can recognise and identify bird calls exist, Warblr's developers claim its database is significantly larger.