According to a survey by BBC Gardeners World Magazine the majority of people in the Britain can’t identify the songs of their country’s most common garden birds. The Magazine’s editor Lucy Hall attributes this to “the rise of technology and the loss of connection with seasons and nature”.
We at Di Villiers are developing machine learning technology to help people reengage with birds and nature. We have released on Apple’s App Store and Windows Phone Store a mobile phone application called Twigle Bird Song Id that helps people identify birds by taking a recording of the bird singing and analysing that recording in order to find the closest match. This reduces the barrier to identifying a bird by people who take a casual interest in birds. Being able to identify one bird provides motivation to try to identify more.
We can make an analogy with automatic transmission in cars that increases the ease of driving. Yes the are merits to manual, but should we not embrace technology where it makes it easier and less frustrating for more people to get going (with driving or birding).
Even for more experienced birders and birdwatchers, the use of Twigle should lead to a more rewarding experience and it reduces the mechanics of the identification process.
The rise of technology in the form of birding apps like Twigle will certainly help in connecting with nature and birds around them. As our technology matures we will be keen to carry out a survey to see how many people became active birders because technologies like Twigle made it easy for them to get started in the hobby.