Fowl Escapades
2000 Zindi Points
Southern African Bird Call Audio Identification Challenge
165 data scientists enrolled, 25 on the leaderboard
16 January—20 April

Southern Africa* is home to around 960 bird species, some of which are found nowhere else on the globe. These creatures fill many important ecosystem niches, and can be found in every habitat in the region, from the lush Afromontane forests of the Drakensberg to the shifting dunes of the Kalahari. Unfortunately, some species are under threat due to habitat loss, climate change or disease. It is important to monitor the health of bird populations across the region, both for the conservation of the birds themselves and as a key indicator of overall ecosystem health.

Unlike larger animals, birds can be hard to observe with camera traps, and so most monitoring efforts involve volunteers identifying birds in the wild or tagging birds caught in nets before releasing them. The objective of this competition is to create a model capable of identifying birds by their calls. This could enable automatic identification of birds based on audio collected by remote microphones, drastically reducing the human input required for population monitoring.

To keep things simple, this competition focus on 40 birds whose calls are frequently heard in Southern Africa. The training data consists of 1857 audio files, recorded by hundreds of contributors and shared through xeno-canto. The goal is to use these recordings to build a classification model able to predict which bird is calling in a given audio clip.

*Southern Africa is the area south of the Zambezi, Kunene and Okavango rivers. This includes Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and southern and central Mozambique.