Birdsong apps are harmful to birds, but new Chirpomatic app has a solution

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Nature app specialists, iSpiny, introduce 'Bird-safe' mode in their new automatic birdsong identification app, enabling ethical use of bird apps outside.

Bird song apps can disturb nesting birds

Bird song apps can disturb nesting birds

Bird-safe mode is a win for the user and a win for the birds

Summer is here, the birds are singing, and so are a multitude of bird apps on mobile devices. Playing bird calls on a mobile device or tablet may seem like a harmless bit of fun and even educational, but from the bird's point of view it is very different.

As soon as bird sounds start to play, nearby birds are distracted from feeding their young, and expend their energy looking for the phantom intruder. Most nature reserves discourage or even ban the use of mobile devices on their sites to protect the wellbeing and longevity of their birdlife. And it's also bad news for other birdwatchers who don't know if they are listening to the real deal or not.

But now nature app specialists, iSpiny, have come up with a solution. Their latest app, Chirpomatic, is a Shazam®-style automatic birdsong identifier and it includes a feature called 'Bird-safe' mode.

Dr. Hilary Lind from iSpiny explains, “It just isn't possible to use an automatic birdsong identifier without playing sounds loudly. You need to listen to your recording and listen to the matching sounds, to see if this is indeed the bird that you can hear. So we came up with the idea of Bird-safe mode. When Bird-safe mode is switched on, you simply hold the phone to your ear as though making a phone call in order to hear the sounds. The clever thing is that the sounds don't start playing until the device is next to your ear, so you don't miss anything. It is actually much easier to hear the sounds this way, so it is a win for the user and a win for the birds!”

Dr. Lind continues, “We take the welfare of wildlife very seriously at iSpiny. We intend to extend Bird-safe mode to all our apps and hope that other developers will follow our lead.”

There has been a slow but serious, countrywide decline in the numbers of many birds over the past 10 years, including many of the best known and loved species such as the song thrush, skylark and even the house sparrow. But with 'Bird-safe' mode, apps can be enjoyed with a clear conscience, without disturbing the birds or other birdwatchers.

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Shazam® is the registered trademark of Shazam Entertainment Limited and is not affiliated with iSpiny in any way.

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Hilary Lind
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