Recording Birds

Ok, so I would like to sit outside at 5 in the morning with my laptop and record ambient bird songs. I haven’t been able to find much information about this online that doesn’t include me buying a dish mic or shotgun mic (for which I have no need as I would like to record all the sound at once, not just a single bird). I have an old 3.5mm Sony mic and a brand new Logitech USB mic. I haven’t tried either because the barely pick up me whistling 5 feet away.

Is there a way that I can use my equipment to record an ambient sound track using audacity? If not, are there any other solutions that you can think of that do not require me purchasing a $200 mic?

Thank you in advance

A pre-amp to increase the sensitivity of your microphone and/or …

If you just need a good (free) recording of birdsong …

For recording very low sound levels you need a pre-amp that has a “self noise” level that is as low as possible. Low noise is probably even more important than high gain (high amplification). The choice of microphone should also be one that is as “sensitive” and “low noise” as possible. Unfortunately it is rare to get these characteristics on budget microphones.

This sample: surrounding_sounds.flac was recorded with a T-Bone SC1100 mic in omni pattern setting and an ART Dual Pre USB preamp with the gain at max (or near max). The volume was amplified by 14.4 dB using audacity amplify effect.

The birds were at a tree over 50m away from the mic. The church bells in the beginning were at maybe 1 km away. The fly was close… (maybe 1 or 2 meters away)

To record birds singing and other ambient sounds you’ll need a very noise free mic and a good preamp… The equipment I mentioned above will cost you maybe around $300. You’ll probably have some trouble finding anything that decent at lower prices… (but if you do please let us know :wink:)

<<<a dish mic or shotgun mic (for which I have no need as I would like to record all the sound at once, not just a single bird).>>>

That’s not what it does. Neither of those microphones will give you a single bird. What they’re good at is gathering enough volume from the flock so the microphone can generate enough signal to overcome the various noises in the system. As you’re finding out, that’s not usually cheap, and yes, we did run into the same problems trying to record training sessions using an inexpensive microphone and a Windows machine sound card.

You are attempting a very special purpose sound capture. Nobody’s expecting inexpensive equipment to perform very well at all – in the case of a Windows machine, the entire sound system is designed for a Skype phone call, not amplifying a Finch hundreds of meters away.

That’s not to say it can’t be done with cheap inexpensive parts that don’t cost very much. I can’t find it now, but someone posted a parabolic microphone made from a kids round aluminum snow sled. Yes, I know it’s not very accurate, but if you even approach putting the microphone in the right place, the effect is startling.

Google your brains out.