You are likely to come across numerous nature sound recording options in today’s market. Most of these options go for a couple of bucks for a basic microphone for your Android or iOS phone up to more than 5000 USD for a professional feeder microphone and recorder. Moreover, bird feeder microphones vary greatly in terms of weight with various professional versions weighing more than 2lbs without including batteries, cables, wind covers, and other parts integral for quality recording.
Selecting the perfect feeder microphone requires research. Nature recordists recommend that you save your money and purchase professional equipment. Alternatively, to avoid wasting your hard-earned cash, it is also advisable to only spend what you can afford.
For your bird feeder, I recommend a Sound Design 722-702 and Sennheiser microphones. This recorder could cost you about $2500 or even less. However, since saving for professional gear for bird recording involves having to wait until you meet the costs, you can choose to use an affordable microphone in the meanwhile before upgrading depending on your interest.
Can You Use A Sub-Professional Outdoor Bird Feeder Microphone?
Although it is every bird watching enthusiast’s wish to have the right gear for an unforgettable bird-watching experience, running on a tight budget as well as strict financial are some of the challenges to achieving this goal. Also, since full gear only comes in handy when doing the actual recording, audio-editing and post-production techniques can help you experience the best of nature.
Moreover, using sub-professional gear offers you enough room to learn tricks that can help compensate for noisier microphones and recorders. Also, it enables you to decide how much you want to involve yourself with nature recording without having to spend a lot of money. Like most of us, you are likely to become addicted to bird-watching and in turn, come up with ways to support your addiction.
However, you ought to understand that substandard bird feeder microphones and recorders are mainly for those who consider bird watching as their hobby. If you are in it for professional reasons, you might be having different needs thus you’ll have to up your game and invest in more appropriate gear.
Also, as a bird watcher, you have to understand that there are many major differences between using your phone for the recording and when using a professional recorder. For instance, unlike iPhones, professional recorders can record at a higher bit rate (similar to pixels in digital photographs). In addition, the recorders do not introduce noise to the recording. Instead, they can record in formats that preserve high-quality sounds without the need for compression.
Professional feeder recorders also feature more jacks and connectors for more mixers and microphones. Most important of all, proper gear should include good preamplifiers which help to boost the level of sound that come through the microphone above the recorder’s noise. Moreover, you are likely to come across one that provides phantom power of about 48v suited for feeder microphones.
Most recorders in the current market are mostly suited for voice recording and the music industry. However, nature recording has different needs that can be hard to meet especially if you are using a substandard recorder. Although nature can be quieter than a recording studio, any unwanted noise such as that from distant machinery or wind can be a little difficult to control.
All in all, before considering the amount of money you wish to invest in a feeder microphone, you first have to understand what you are planning to record. Also, if you will be recording in a noisy environment, it is most likely that you won’t require expensive pre-amplifiers.
Moreover, different bird feeder recorders and microphones are suited for different birds. For instance, there are specialized bat detectors and recorders for those interested in recording bats alone, although there is professional gear that can handle that too.
However, if you are planning to record in quieter environments, then you might as well place keen considerations on the type of feeder recorder to use. Don’t forget, birds are afraid of humans, and you need to have everything set up correctly so that you can record sound without being in close proximity to them.
Tips For Picking An Outdoor Bird Feeder Microphone
Identify Your Requirements
You might have different needs depending on whether you carry out nature recording as a hobby or professionally. Similarly, it will depend on the sampling rate that you wish to capture and the intrinsic noise level you can bear with. Here, the type of feeder microphone to use is important especially because standard mics often function with phantom power which does not feature in all recorder types.
Such equipment can achieve higher sampling rates of up to 192kHz or more. With such kind of sampling rates, you can achieve more detail in sound, which you can also record in higher frequencies. However, the only drawback is that the recorded files will require more storage space. Additionally, this translates to increased transfer time when moving the files between different devices. Also, since the recorders may have varying sizes and weight, you must consider how you’ll use the equipment, and how often you’ll need to move it around.
Consider Your Budget
Since most sound recording equipment is quite expensive, it is advisable to identify your budget before watching your hard-earned money wash down the drain. A good question to ask yourself is whether you need the best equipment available and whether you need it currently. If not, you might decide to purchase low-level or middle-end gear before upgrading later on. Also, there are great offers out there that allow you to rent the equipment thus trying it out before making the purchase.
Balance Your Budget And Needs
Another essential aspect for your consideration is budgeting for the microphones. More often than not, bird feeder microphones tend to cost more than a recorder. Among other accessories that are part of your needs and which you should allocate enough cash include adapters, cables, tripods, batteries, power supplies, wind protection (which you might find expensive to acquire, especially if you lack the creativity to make your own). Other add-ons that you may require depending on your needs are carrying cases, mixers, and pre-amps.
Reassess Your Needs From Time To Time
Remember to stay informed about deals, such as those available on eBay. However, my personal experience on eBay isn’t worth sharing since I’ve always been outbid every time, I try to purchase something. Part of reassessing your needs may involve changing your gear or swapping your heavy equipment for a lighter one.
However, if the weight of your gear doesn’t bother you, consider choosing professional-level gear. This will likely significantly save you from messing with the recordings and equipment as well to make them sound half as good as the pro equipment does. Nevertheless, you can still choose less expensive options if you are running on a fixed budget or you probably prefer to do things the hard way.
To determine whether a bird feeder microphone is suitable for your use, you can check the product reviews on the Avisoft website as well as other commercial sites such as Amazon, B & H photo, and Sweeetwater.com among other dealers.
How do bird listeners work?
A typical bird listener features two major components: a wireless outdoor feeder microphone, and an indoor speaker unit. The wireless microphone is responsible for transmitting the sounds to your speaker found indoors. Below are some basic instructions that will help you set up your bird listener for an ultimate recording experience.
Place your transmitter in a suitable outside location before connecting the microphone. If you have a nearby power outlet, you can connect the transmitter with AC. However, if you plan to use the featured batteries to provide power for your transmitter, then it is best if you have a solar panel to help extend the battery life. However, having a solar panel isn’t much of a requirement and you should still be able to enjoy nature recording without it.
Next, you have to plug in the speaker and switch it on. In turn, this should power your transmitter located outside. You can adjust the speaker volume and microphone sensitivity depending on your preferences. Also, remember to keep an eye on the battery indicator which alerts you whenever you need to recharge the transmitter.
Enjoy The Experience
Finally, after completing the setup, you are good to listen to the live sounds of nearby birds. You can make use of Bluetooth technology if you wish to send the recorded sound into other rooms. Also, you can download various apps that allow you to record and share audio clips with your family or friends. Ensure to connect your microphone to a bird feeder to attract as many birds as possible. However, remember to have several feeders to avoid competition within the birds where the larger ones will dominate over the smaller ones. This also allows you to listen to nighttime nature sounds.
Choosing the location for your feeder is another important aspect that you shouldn’t overlook. I strive to make the feeders in my yard visible from any angle so that I can get the most from any visiting birds. However, there are certain rules concerning feeder placement that you need to adhere to. Here they are
You have to be wary of any glass windows or doors in your yard before placing the bird feeders. Previously, before garnering enough experience in bird watching, I would see birds leaving the feeders only to crash into the transparent windows. This would result in an almost irreversible injury to the unlucky bird.
As a result, ensure that you place your bird feeders as close as possible or as far as possible from glass windows and doors. As counterintuitive as it may seem, placing the feeders closer to the windows helps reduce the impact since birds would crash before attaining maximum speed.
Although placing your feeder closer to trees appears to be an inviting idea, you should avoid doing so. It places the birds in danger since predators such as cats can hide ad attack unsuspecting birds that frequent your feeder. You can seek expert help on where to locate your feeder, especially if you have a lot of trees and shrubs in your yard.
Sooner or later, you’ll come to realize that your bird feeder requires maintenance as much as your kitchen does. Dirty and unmaintained feeders are likely to brood diseases that can kill an entire flock, or even spread to other wildlife the birds come into contact with. As such, get rid of stale or moldy food and thoroughly clean your feeders on a regular basis.
Also, ensure to keep your feeders chemical-free even when cleaning since most detergent may contain toxins that are harmful to the birds. Also, one way to ensure that you get regular recordings is by having enough birds frequenting your feeders. And to do this, you’ll have to make sure that your feeder never becomes empty. If birds come to your feeder only to find it empty, chances are that they will leave for another feeder which may not be yours, thus depriving you’re the ability to record their singing.
As such, you should worry less about what you are feeding the birds and instead focus on how much food you have for them. However, this doesn’t mean that you should get carried away and fill your feeder with whatever you have just to bring the birds to your yard. As a result, avoid putting out processed foods such as bread for the birds since most of them may fail to digest them.
In a nutshell, picking a feeder microphone for outdoor nature recording is different from choosing one for singing. Important features to put into considerations include durability, portability, and quiet pre-amps. Similarly, the external microphones you use will determine the type of recorder, and the type of recording to do. Moreover, for your recorder, choose one while keeping in mind the required features and overall cost. Some recorders such as the Olympus L100 and the Tascam seem to include better features at more affordable prices. However, the fact that you’ll find them a little bit noisier may make you think otherwise.