Sound recordings and guidelines for a City Nature Challenge activity

I am hoping that during the 2024 City Nature Challenge many local iNatters will record the sounds of spring peepers. I also hope to encourage people to get out and listen for birds during the dawn chorus. To promote this idea and to promote a few guidelines I uploaded an article to our regional CNC umbrella project journal. Lots of info from previous forum discussions is included…

Did I miss any important points?

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We took a break from identifying audio observations to visit the forum. A few thoughts after reading your guidelines:

Do you want to advise people to write notes specifically about habitat: call coming from forest, bush, high up in tree, cattail marsh, etc.? As an identifier, knowing the observation was in a wetland might give clues.

Do you want to specifically advise against habitat shots that do not include the focal organism? (per this thread:

Do you want to explicitly encourage (or discourage) including any photos of the actual organism if available to be photographed? Unsure if the goal is audio-only.

You wrote: “b. There is an option to upload multiple recordings – don’t get carried away. Review and reorder recordings” Is there actually a way to reorder recordings in the iPhone app?

Enjoyed the guide. Best of luck on the CNC!


Perhaps one can’t re-order sound recordings. oops. I just assumed that this is possible as I do it all the time for photo observations. If they can’t be reordered then the next best option would be to add a note - the 2nd recording is better than the first.

@wildwestnature wrote: Do you want to specifically advise against habitat shots that do not include the focal organism? (per this thread: )

Perhaps other forum readers can better answer this question but if I am staring at a tree or a pond and I know that the sounds that i am recording are coming from that area maybe one could infer(?) that the critter is in the photo somewhere… There should be a flag for a photo to remove it from species recognition! Having a photo showing the habitat could help many people ID a few species.

So… other forum readers - should the guidelines include a line advising people to avoid including habitat photos?
Should observers be advised to write notes about habitat? if it is too complicated then not likely to happen…

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I’m very happy to see this thread as I was gently chastised a few years ago for including a pic of the site. It seemed strange to me that the most simple of actions is not acceptable yet the use of the postcode, only, is. Many of my knowledgeable iNatters here in New Zealand post their obs with the minimum required (GPS location) and postcode name, leaving subsequent iNatters the task of searching maps and quizzing the observers to get some idea of the habitat in that site. Multiplying that with a large number obs can be daunting!

Q: What are the arguments against the inclusion of a site photo for audio obs’s?

I think habitat photos are a good thing but presumably because the calling animal is not in the photo it can confuse the computer vision.

I’ve had a few opportunities where I could both record a bird singing and photo the bird. It involved some fast fumbling with both my phone and camera but it’s great when you get both and post them in the same iNat record.

iNat guidelines state that the focal organism should be in all photos/sounds. Habitat photos are discouraged unless the organism is in them (it can be small/not IDable to species). If you post a photo without the organism first, it’s somewhat likely that an IDer might see that the photo doesn’t have the species, and disagree/ID as something else/use the DQA without noticing the sound, so I would definitely not recommend that.


I think your advanced information about cropping and normalising are great but unfortunately will be too complicated for most. I don’t make many audio identifications (partly because I don’t know many bird or frog calls) but I am disenchanted by a really quiet recording where I have to adjust my speaker volume greatly. [Would be good for iNaturalist to automatically normalize.]

Even more frustrating are the ones where all I can hear is the wind on the mic.

Or the sound of my own footsteps crunching on the ground as I try to get closer to the singing bird. I learned quickly enough to NOT be moving around when trying to record. Wind noise is harder to omit when using just a smartphone.

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