• Mennill, Daniel J.


Advances in research on bird vocalizations often follow the development of new recording technologies and analytical techniques (Baptista & Gaunt 1994, Baker 2001). As recently as a decade ago, ornithologists recorded birdsong onto magnetic tape and analysed sounds with a Kay Elemetrics Sonograph. This rare and expensive computer allowed users to visualize sections of tape recordings and collect spectro‐temporal measurements, although it lacked the ability to store sounds in memory or view long periods of recording. How far acoustic studies have progressed with the advent of digital sound recording and analysis! Portable digital recorders are widely available and memory for sound storage is increasingly affordable; thousands of hours of field recordings can now be stored on a single portable drive. Recordings can be visualized instantly and analysed on personal computers using a variety of powerful software packages. We have entered a new era of research on the incredible diversity of avian acoustic communication strategies, in which birds can be studied in unprecedented detail based on extended digital recordings of their vocalizations.