Last updated
Type of site
Audio clip sharing
Available in
  • English
  • Dutch
  • Polish
URL www.xeno-canto.org
LaunchedMay 30, 2005;16 years ago (2005-05-30) [1]
Current statusActive

xeno-canto is a citizen science project and repository in which volunteers record, upload and annotate recordings of birdsong and bird calls. Since it began in 2005, it has collected over 575,000 sound recordings from more than 10,000 species worldwide, and has become one of the biggest collections of bird sounds in the world. [1] All the recordings are published under one of the Creative Commons licenses, [2] including some with open licences. Each recording on the website is accompanied by a spectrogram and location data on a map displaying geographical variation.


Data from xeno-canto has been re-used in many (a few thousand) scientific papers. [3] [4] [5] [6] It has also been the source of data for an annual challenge on automatic birdsong recognition ("BirdCLEF") since 2014, conducted as part of the Conference and Labs of the Evaluation Forum. [7]

The website is supported by a number of academic and birdwatching institutions worldwide, with its primary support being in the Netherlands. [8]


xeno-canto, which translates to "strange sound", is a sounds-only project seeking to highlight sounds of birds, rather than images or videos. xeno-canto was launched on May 30, 2005 by Bob Planqué, a mathematical biologist at VU University Amsterdam, and Willem-Pier Vellinga, a physicist who now consults for a global materials technology company. [9] At the time of the launch, the site held recordings of only about 160 species and originally aimed to collect recordings of birds from Central and South America. [1]


xeno-canto has now become global, expanding its coverage to North America, Africa and Asia, and finally to Europe and Australasia. By 2017, the data collection showed significant growth, containing about 360,000 recordings of about 9,750 bird species (which is nearly 90 percent of all bird species). [9] [10] Nevertheless, the collection is still far from complete. There are about 1,000 missing species, and for many species, there are only a few recordings, meaning they lack the variation in repertoire and dialect that the species display. [9]


xeno-canto aims to utilize the capabilities of the internet to improve the general popularity, accessibility, and knowledge of bird sounds. [1]  So far, the recordings on xeno-canto have seen use in a variety of different ways including being featured on the Aviation Information System of India, [11] contributing to the STERNA project, [12] and being included in a Norwegian University's database. [13]

Since its founding, the website has set a number of set principles in order to keep the service community-driven. [1]   These principles include:

Related Research Articles

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The Arctic tern is a tern in the family Laridae. This bird has a circumpolar breeding distribution covering the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. The species is strongly migratory, seeing two summers each year as it migrates along a convoluted route from its northern breeding grounds to the Antarctic coast for the southern summer and back again about six months later. Recent studies have shown average annual roundtrip lengths of about 70,900 km (44,100 mi) for birds nesting in Iceland and Greenland and about 90,000 km (56,000 mi) for birds nesting in the Netherlands. These are by far the longest migrations known in the animal kingdom. The Arctic tern flies as well as glides through the air. It nests once every one to three years ; once it has finished nesting it takes to the sky for another long southern migration.

Common snipe Species of bird

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Wood sandpiper Species of bird

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Little bustard Species of bird

The little bustard is a bird in the bustard family, the only member of the genus Tetrax. The genus name is from Ancient Greek and refers to a gamebird mentioned by Aristophanes and others.

Brambling Species of bird

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Twite Species of bird

The twite is a small brown passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae.

Common linnet Species of bird

The common linnet is a small passerine bird of the finch family, Fringillidae. It derives its common name and the scientific name, Linaria, from its fondness for hemp seeds and flax seeds—flax being the English name of the plant from which linen is made.

Gull-billed tern Species of bird

The gull-billed tern, formerly Sterna nilotica, is a tern in the family Laridae. The genus name is from Ancient Greek gelao, "to laugh", and khelidon, "swallow". The specific niloticus is from Latin and means of the Nile. The Australian gull-billed tern was previously considered a subspecies.

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Bird vocalization includes both bird calls and bird songs. In non-technical use, bird songs are the bird sounds that are melodious to the human ear. In ornithology and birding, songs are distinguished by function from calls.

Pine warbler Species of bird

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Bioacoustics is a cross-disciplinary science that combines biology and acoustics. Usually it refers to the investigation of sound production, dispersion and reception in animals. This involves neurophysiological and anatomical basis of sound production and detection, and relation of acoustic signals to the medium they disperse through. The findings provide clues about the evolution of acoustic mechanisms, and from that, the evolution of animals that employ them.

Boat-tailed grackle Species of bird

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California gnatcatcher Species of bird

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Green ibis Species of bird

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Golden-hooded tanager Species of bird

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White-winged black tit Species of bird

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Cuban emerald Species of bird of the genus Chlorostilbon

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Pheasant cuckoo Species of bird

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Cuban blackbird Species of bird

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Wildlife Acoustics

Wildlife Acoustics, Inc. is a privately held United States company based in Maynard, Massachusetts. The company provides bioacoustics monitoring technology for scientists, researchers, and government agencies internationally. The company was founded by Ian Agranat in 2003. The company originally developed a product called the Song Sleuth, a device that would attempt to automatically identify birds from their songs in real time in the field. As this concept proved too expensive for the consumer market, the underlying technology was used to develop autonomous acoustic and ultrasonic recorders and analysis software for research scientists and other professional ecologists.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "About Xeno Canto". xeno-canto. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  2. "Terms of Use". xeno-canto. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
  3. Brumm, H. & Naguib, M. (2009), "Environmental acoustics and the evolution of bird song", Advances in the Study of Behavior, 40: 1–33, doi:10.1016/S0065-3454(09)40001-9
  4. Weir, J.T. & Wheatcroft, D. (2011), "A latitudinal gradient in rates of evolution of avian syllable diversity and song length", Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 278 (1712): 1713–1720, doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.2037, PMC   3081773 , PMID   21068034
  5. Stowell, D.F. & Plumbley, M. D. (2014), "Automatic large-scale classification of bird sounds is strongly improved by unsupervised feature learning", PeerJ , 2: e488, arXiv: 1405.6524 , Bibcode:2014arXiv1405.6524S, doi:10.7717/peerj.488, PMC   4106198 , PMID   25083350
  6. Stowell, D.F.; Musevic,S.; Bonada,J. & Plumbley, M. D. (2013), "Improved multiple birdsong tracking with distribution derivative method and Markov renewal process clustering", 2013 IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing: 468–472, arXiv: 1302.3462 , Bibcode:2013arXiv1302.3462S, doi:10.1109/ICASSP.2013.6637691, hdl: 10230/41749 , ISBN   978-1-4799-0356-6, S2CID   3539066
  7. BirdCLEF 2019 webpage
  8. "Colophon and Credits". xeno-canto. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
  9. 1 2 3 "Science | The Guardian". the Guardian. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  10. 1 2 "www.xeno-canto.org: a decade on".
  11. "About AVIS – IBIS - IBIS" . Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  12. "Members". www.sterna-net.eu. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  13. "Linnet (Linaria cannabina) -> Crossbill (Linaria cannabina) - BirdID's Bird Guide - Nord University - Birdid". www.birdid.no. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  14. "When we share, everyone wins". Creative Commons. Retrieved 2021-03-15.