Automatic acoustic detection of birds through deep learning: The first Bird Audio Detection challenge
Methods in Ecology and Evolution
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Assessing the presence and abundance of birds is important for monitoring specific species as well as overall ecosystem health. Many birds are most readily detected by their sounds, and thus, passive acoustic monitoring is highly appropriate. Yet acoustic monitoring is often held back by practical limitations such as the need for manual configuration, reliance on example sound libraries, low accuracy, low robustness, and limited ability to generalise to novel acoustic conditions. Here, we report outcomes from a collaborative data challenge. We present new acoustic monitoring datasets, summarise the machine learning techniques proposed by challenge teams, conduct detailed performance evaluation, and discuss how such approaches to detection can be integrated into remote monitoring projects. Multiple methods were able to attain performance of around 88% area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve (AUC), much higher performance than previous general-purpose methods. With modern machine learning, including deep learning, general-purpose acoustic bird detection can achieve very high retrieval rates in remote monitoring data, with no manual recalibration, and no pretraining of the detector for the target species or the acoustic conditions in the target environment.