Template-based automatic recognition of birdsong syllables from continuous recordings

Sven E. Anderson, Amish S. Dave, Daniel Margoliash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


The application of dynamic time warping (DTW) to the automated analysis of continuous recordings of animal vocalizations is evaluated. The DTW algorithm compares an input signal with a set of predefined templates representative of categories chosen by the investigator. It directly compares signal spectrograms, and identifies constituents and constituent boundaries, thus permitting the identification of a broad range of signals and signal components. When applied to vocalizations of an indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea) and a zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) collected from a low-clutter, low-noise environment, the recognizer identifies syllables in stereotyped songs and calls with greater than 97% accuracy. Syllables of the more variable and lower amplitude indigo bunting plastic song are identified with approximately 84% accuracy. Under restricted recording conditions, this technique apparently has general applicability to analysis of a variety of animal vocalizations and can dramatically decrease the amount of time spent on manual identification of vocalizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1209-1219
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Aug 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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