Individual identity in songbirds: signal representations and metric learning for locating the information in complex corvid calls
Bird calls range from simple tones to rich dynamic multi-harmonic structures. The more complex calls are very poorly understood at present, such as those of the scientifically important corvid family (jackdaws, crows, ravens, etc.). Individual birds can recognise familiar individuals from calls, but where in the signal is this identity encoded? We studied the question by applying a combination of feature representations to a dataset of jackdaw calls, including linear predictive coding (LPC) and adaptive discrete Fourier transform (aDFT). We demonstrate through a classification paradigm that we can strongly outperform a standard spectrogram representation for identifying individuals, and we apply metric learning to determine which time-frequency regions contribute most strongly to robust individual identification. Computational methods can help to direct our search for understanding of these complex biological signals.