Uploading sounds to iNat

Hello! So I am relatively new to all of this and I tried to search through the “Tutorials” for a way to upload sounds. I would like to know how this is done! Please and thank you :)

welcome to the forum

you need to upload a sound file rather than a video file (which is how most sounds would be captured if recording with a phone or camera)

So if you currently have a video file, go to a converter like https://online-audio-converter.com, convert it to m4a (and select ‘best’ for quality), then download that file.

From there, you just follow the same process as for uploading a photo. Keep in mind you have to manually enter the date/time + location.

If your file is already a sound file, then just skip the conversion step


Hello. Great question - sound files are really useful.

Once you have a sound file, you can drag and drop it into the upload window as you would with photographs. If you have photos and sound, then great - drag them into the same observation!

Re. filetypes, as long as other iNaturalist users can hear the sound, they can help with ID. That depends on the taxa a bit though. Most birds have recogniseable songs, but amphibians and insects can be trickier. If you are happy for others to check your sound IDs by downloading the files and listening to them on sound analysis software, then wav files or mp3s are the best options as the MPEG-4 Audio files (m4as) created by mobile phones don’t usually open in sound analysis software (which is often necessary to use to detect the frequencies given off by different species of insects/frogs for example).

I normally use a microphone and recorder to get sound files, but if all I have is my phone, I’ll use the bird ID app Merlin to take a recording as it saves as .wav files. Here’s an example of a cicada recorded via the Merlin app: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/173392934 I could then open it in a sound analysis software program afterwards to look at the acoustic patterns.

Hope that’s helpful. Good luck getting recordings!

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Oh wow!! Thanks a ton, that’s very helpful and thanks for providing a link as well! I’ll be sure to follow these steps :))

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That is very, very helpful! And I also only have my phone right now but I was so curious as to how to do it because earlier this evening I heard some sounds that I thought were maybe an insect (perhaps a cicada) or even a frog. I’ll hopefully be able to record it tonight and upload it tomorrow :) thank you for your helpful advice and by the way, that was a really cool recording!

You’re welcome. Thanks too - I was happy with that cicada as it’s great when you actually see the animal that’s making the sound, but it’s not always possible. Good luck with the recordings. Hopefully iNat will help figure out what the mystery animal is!

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