The Macaulay Library’s Bird Song Challenge

By Macaulay Library Team
Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus

  • Baja California Sur, Los Cabos, Mexico

The Macaulay Library invites you to join us for a few recording challenges from April – June. Rate audio recordings while filling your home with bird song, or record bird vocalizations near your home, or archive recordings from your personal archive—dust them off and share them with the world. 

Record Rater

Rate 150 or more audio recordings in the Macaulay Library archive from April 1st to June 30th following the rating guidelines and be entered to win a 1-year subscription to the brand new Birds of the Worlda powerful new resource that brings together scholarly content from four celebrated works of ornithology (Birds of North America and Neotropical Birds (originally published by the Cornell Lab) with Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive and Bird Families of the World (originally published by Lynx Edicions) into one rich and colorful hub where you can find comprehensive, authoritative information on birds.  

Rating recordings in the archive helps uncover the best recordings to illustrate bird vocalizations for Birds of the World, All About Birds, and Merlin Bird ID. It can also help you learn more about what makes for a good recording and may even improve your skills as a recordist. Rating audio recordings can be challenging, so be sure to read our guidelines first. Please listen to the entire recording and rate each audio recording using the 1 to 5-star rating system. You may rate your own recordings or recordings from other recordists; they all count. However, we encourage you to rate unrated audio recordings or pick one or two species and rate as many recordings as you can of those species—then you’ll be an expert when it comes to vocalizations of those species. 

One winner will be chosen at random from those who rated 150 or more audio recordings following the rating guidelines. The winner will be announced during the first week of July.

Home Archivist

We recognize that not everyone can leave their homes right now, but roads and highways are suddenly a lot quieter, which means grabbing a recording from your yard, garden, or balcony is a possibility. And sound recording is a perfect social distancing behavior. If you do venture out beyond your home to record, please remember to bird mindfully and heed recommendations from your local health authorities. 

To participate in the Home Archivist challenge, make 50 or more qualifying recordings and add them to your eBird checklist from April 1st – June 30th. Alternatively, dust off that old collection and start archiving it. Either way, uploading 50 qualifying recordings during the contest period will give you a chance to win a Tascam DR-100MkIII and your choice of either a Sennheiser ME 67/K6 microphone or Wildtronics Pro Mono Parabolic Microphone.

If you are recording with your smartphone, be sure to download a dedicated recording app that allows you to make recordings in .wav format (the archival standard). 

Canada Goose

Canada Goose Branta canadensis

  • Ohio, Licking, United States

Remember, you don’t have to leave your house to participate in the Home Archivist challenge. If you have recordings in your own personal collection that you have not yet added to the Macaulay Library, we encourage you to participate. If you want to submit historic recordings for the contest, all you need to do is create a historical eBird checklist for those recordings. If you have a large collection and don’t know where to start, visit our targets page to find out which species are underrepresented in the archive. 

Recordings do not need to be made during the contest period, but do need to be uploaded to eBird checklists between April through June. If you’ve never found the time to add your recordings to your eBird checklists, now is the time. 

One winner will be chosen from those who archive 50 or more qualifying audio recordings. The winner will be announced during the first week of July.