Traffic noise annoys songbirds to the point of harming them

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Well couldn’t they just use the cars to migrate? Turn this into a positive!

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For years, I’ve been wishing that everyone had access to cheap, reliable measuring equipment that could give calibrated evidence for noise complaints. But sound pollution isn’t really considered pollution, and no one wants to lug around specialty gear in anticipation of being annoyed.

I dunno if a smart phone could be reliably used in this way, but it would be a killer app!


I watched an interesting documentary a little while back,I want to say on bbc 4, and it discussed the harmful impacts street lighting has on birds, so I don’t find this at all surprising.

And don’t get me started on skyscrapers. Shit’s tragic. Anyone else seen those volunteers out in Chicago (or was it Seattle…) that go and try and help all of the downed birds every morning before the commuters come in?

Edit: It was Chicago, props to

Edit: Also interesting product I just learnt about

The glass has a patterned, UV reflective coating making it visible to birds while remaining virtually transparent to the human eye.


Would have to be calibrated. But should work at least somewhat, then.

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There are such apps (I just downloaded one called Decibel 10th) , but how to use them effectively? Or get anyone who matters to care?

It might be too late, we may have just accepted the noise as part of the package. But using cell phones as sensors might also pinpoint gunfire in crowded places, if you can convince enough people to run the same mic sharing app.

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What if you can’t find anyone willing to hang out in a place where trying to do that would make sense?

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There’s the issue with precision time-tagging of the shots heard. You can use GPS but that works poorly indoors, not all phones have the pulse-per-second line accessible, and NTP and other protocols will likely not have enough accuracy. Sound is annoyingly slow but anyway…

I am currently (well, it’s on the back burner due to more pressing tasks but it is half done) fighting USB isochronous transfers, in order to make a precision timestamped sound card - 15 bit ADC and 16th bit set to the status of a serial line or the pulse-per-second line from the GPS module (one for left, one for right channel; alternatively having them xored together if only one channel is available). The problem faced there is that the transfers lose data (in a deterministic way, I think the ping-pong on the endpoint buffer is misset, once there’s time and mood I’ll dive into the datasheet).

That could make for a precision pinpointing of sound source using audio streamed over the Net. Record sound to circular buffer, if a loud one is detected send the previous two and following three (or so) seconds to a server; if data from more stations are received, the timestamped audio is correlated and event source pinpointed in the map.

Could also be used for seismic events, SOSUS-like passive sonar arrays, and so on.


I think the primary barrier to entry is the fact that it would take a whole dedicated app that needs a service running all the time for it to work right.

The solution, it seems, is to bundle these features with an app that a user would install and open from time-to-time anyway. The Amazon Shopping app, which I’m ashamed to say I have, is a perfect example. It gives me the most idiotic notifications. (Today it was something like new albums added to Amazon Prime for September.) Damned if that strategy isn’t crazy smart though.

The device I am trying to put together is more suitable for fixed location and attaching to a computer that runs all the time (whether a router, NAS, or a server or a humble single-task Raspi). So you won’t get data from people on the go, but you get a fixed network covering the 'hood.

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