Birder's Guide

NOV 2018

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 12 of 43

■ The Red-winged Blackbird is one of the greatest birds in the ABA Area—unless you're trying to record a Mountain Bluebird or Cinnamon Teal in the same acoustic space as the blackbird. When making a sound recording, be aware of interference from clamorous blackbirds, clangorous geese, and especially road noise. Alamosa County, Colorado; March 18, 2017. Photo by © Ted Floyd. 11 November 2018 | Birder's Guide to Gear .wav. At this point, the file is ready for upload to eBird—but not yet to Xeno- Canto. That's because eBird accepts files in .wav format, whereas Xeno-Canto re- quires uploads in .mp3 format. Use an online converter like to make the .mp3 file. That's all there is to it! But you know me. Or if you don't, let me tell you a little about myself. I'm the sort of person who likes to do a bit of file editing. I crop and resize, and sometimes sharpen and brighten, my photos. Also, I'm the sort of person who endeavors to get the right photo in the first place, by paying attention to the effects of lighting, motion, composition, and so forth. And I like to do analogous things with my sound recordings. So I'm going to spend some time now getting into the thick- ets. Now don't worry!—We're not going to wander in far at all. What follows is pretty basic: three general strategies for making great sound recordings. You could stop reading right now, but I hope you'll come along for the rest of the ride. Strategy #1 • Get a good recording while you're actually in the field I've already stated the most important thing of all: Get close to the bird. Next, while you're recording, do everything possible to minimize anthropogenic noise. You would be amazed at how much noise you yourself make! Don't whisper. Don't even breathe. Don't rustle your sleeves or jangle your ear- rings. And, whatever you do, don't ever, ever, take a step. Even the quietest foot- step ruins a recording. Stand stock still, stretch your arm out toward the bird, and press the red circle. What about other sounds? Bob Zilly, who mentored me in the art of using "cheap digital recorders", advises blunt- ly not to record near road noise. Period. The car always wins, even if you're re- cording a Horned Screamer or Hadeda Ibis. Water, in the form of creeks and rain, is nearly as bad. Wind isn't great, but you can usually eliminate it with a high-pass filter, as discussed below. And then there is biotic interference. Canada Geese and Red-winged Blackbirds are the bane of my existence, almost as evil as cars and trucks. Crickets and katy- dids are either annoyances or ethereal descants, depending on your perspec- tive. Anyhow, I've made my point. In the same way that photographers aim to avoid leaves, twigs, and branches, sound recordists strive to minimize interference from cars, crickets, and Canada Geese. What about the orientation of the phone itself? This is interesting. Gearhead Diana Doyle has looked into the matter, and it turns out that these smartphones are, well, smart. They know, they just

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