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Cardinal Bird Song & Call RecordingBluebird

Bird Sound Recording Equipment

Recording the songs of birds you encounter can be fun.  Sound recording equipment can run from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.  It is best to start out small, but many people get hooked on it, and before long they have a lot of money invested.  Since the microphone is what captures the birds sound, it is the first piece of equipment to consider.  Next you will need a recorder that has an external input for your mike.  There is wide range of recorders, from cassette, MiniDisc, to CF cards.  It is also a good idea to get a windscreen, or sock for your mike if it does not come with one.

For birders there are two types of microphone systems.  One is a handheld directional mike called a shotgun mike, called this because it looks like a long gun barrel.  They are easy to pack on a trip, and using them is a simple as pointing them at the bird you are trying to record.

One of the lowest priced shotgun mikes you can buy is the audio-technica ATR55.  This mike is designed for video cameras but is also used by birders.  While most shotgun mikes are not designed to be used with a parabola, this one does give you that option.  If it is hand held it tends to pick up handling noise, but it can be placed on a tripod.shotgun mike audio-technica ATR55   

Many birders use equipment combinations such as the two listed below to record bird songs and calls.

Bird sound recording package 1


Bird sound recording package 2


There are of course many combinations of equipment to choose from depending on your budget.

Here are some shotgun mikes sold on Amazon.  

The second type of system is a mike in a parabolic reflector or dish.  The dish can be anywhere from one to a few feet.  When pointed at a bird all the sound waves that strike the dish are funneled to the center where the mike is.  This type of system is a little more cumbersome, but the sound will be clearer, especially for soft sounds, or those in the distance.  This is because the dish can collect hundreds of times more sound energy than the shotgun mike.  Though it provides a stronger signal the sound is also a bit distorted with parabolic reflectors. 

Learn more about Bird Songs and Calls.

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