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Project Birdsong - and ParaChirp 

Project Birdsong is an activity where participants record local birds using their smart phones and go on to process the sound files to create three things:

1. a sound track from which to identify characteristics of the birdThe sound track needs to be clear without other sounds and calls from other birds. Parachirp focusses in a sound source very accurately to reduce extraneous noises and sounds. It also amplifies the sound by gathering a large area of sound and focussing it on a a small area - the microphone.

2. a shared formatted file to share with international databases such as E-Bird If you want to share your sound file with the likes of EBird, there are requirements for this. You must not edit the spaces from the recording. The spaces tell us as much about the call as the sounds do. You need to record the location, time and context such as weather. Your recoding must be in WAV uncompressed form so this limits your software to ones that record in WAV and not Mp3/2/3/4. This is also important when we use recordings for musical or image creation. 

3. a wave form/spectrograph  for outputting as a graphic file for doing creative things. The clearer the sound the better. For use in creativity some bird calls work better than others. Tyhe Skylark, common in Britain is a good bird to record because it will be in the sky when you record it - away from other noises and birds, its call is absolutely filled with detail and variety, and it is very common in the uk - ideal for an outing or even sitting in the garden. However, in the Nene Valley or outlying villages - even in your back garden you can get some great recordings to use in creativity.  Maybe have a Para Chirp in your shed outhouse, car or caravan ready for the unexpected guest! Portable versions are available that collapse into a s=draw string bag and can be assembled in a few seconds ideal for wild camping!

What you need for field work:

1. ParaChirp

You can borrow one of ours or purchase one from our website at a 20% discount for course attendance. Ideally you will have chance to camouflage yours so you don't look like a one-eyed owl to the wildlife.

2. Your own recording device

Smartphone/voice recorder/camcorder/DSLR etc


You can use the internal mic on your smart phone - ParaChirp is designed to accommodate most phones with a bottom edge mic.

You can borrow one of our Lavaliere mics which should adapt to your phone data socket. We may also have access to some Bluetooth mics for you to pair with.

4. Headphones

Use your own device's earbuds, bluetooth etc  For hygiene reasons we do not loan earbuds. We may have one or two headsets.


5. Selfie Stick

Parachirp works well for improving the sound for video. Just use your video facility to record the birdsong. 

Video really helps when interrogating your sound files and remembering where you saw certain birds.

6. Apps

There is software feely availably to enable you to select between mics and outputs on your device. You need to load this up before arriving - tutorial videos available on booking.

7. Birdsense

Birds can handle human noises quite well. They do not take kindly to people behaving suspiciously. As we go out to observe birds you will need to behave normally   - however if 'normally' is screeching talking loudly this will upset both birds and others in the group. For those who struggle to keep quiet or still we can provide 'skylark' tours which are totally amazing in terms of the recording you get and there is less need to be quiet as the action happens in the deep blue sky. However for other trips we reserve the right to kindly and respectfully ask you or your children to desist making that noise! 

8. Clothes for weather


9. Water/snacks/to keep you going

We may be some time . . 

10. Parent (if under 16), emergency contact number etc

What you need for sound processing 

  • Access to computer/smartphone

  • Access to software that works in WAV format

  • Access to laser cutter/Printer/Audio Workstation

T&S provide all of these as part of the course. However you may chose yo use your own laptop etc.

Most software is PC /Mac based not tablet. However 'Garage Band' type products will be of great use when we get creative!


1. Intro - 2 hrs at Freestones

  • Investigate some sound files from Rwanda Planet Birdsong

  • Assemble/decorate your new ParaChirp at a discount of web prices

  • Get your systems working

2. Field trip - On location

Guided tour and recording given by bird expert Peter Cowdrey of Planet Birdsong along the River Nene. Meet at Titchmarsh Fen

3. Edit and process sounds at Freestones

An introduction to a range of creative outcomes with something to take away.

4. Explore outputs/options/creativity

Attend our 'Project Birdsong sessions' to further your own study in music, art and scientific research

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Media Outcomes

Audio recordings with Parachirp

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This is a raw recording made by Hillary Bean whilst testing ParaChirp before embarking on the ambitious Plant Birdsong project with Univerity of Rwanda.

This demonstrates the EBird Protocol for recording attributing.

Note the focus of the recording and the lack of background sounds. Warning: turn volume down!

By kind permission Hillary Bean

Audio Productions and Performances
Blackbird and greater spotted woodpecker at Cransley Wood 2021
Edited on Audacity and Studio One DAW at T&S Studio

Montage of recordings and live performances by children of the first Project Birdsong T&S Suffolk 2017
Editied in Presonnus Studio One DAW at T&S
The performances were the work of children who 'scored' parts for instruments based on the birdsong they had recorded during the project.

'Gold Crest'  - Viola and Piano composition and performance by Peter and Liz Cowdrey. - video
The analysis of birdsong by Spectrograph gives a much greater understanding of the structure of birdsong which in turn inspires musical composition. Here Peter (piano) and Liz (viola) demonstrate a short sequence of how birdsong can be interpreted with musical instruments.

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