Why is it called The Cacophony Project?

This project humbly began by doing a bit of local pest eradication on our small property in Akaroa.  After a couple of years I’m sure the bird volume has gone up, thanks to the Akaroa community all doing their bit. I thought this was cool but how could I know for sure? From investigating the manual methods it seemed like computers would be a great way to measure bird volume and record trends over time.

The Kereru, our native NZ wood pigeon. Source: Flickr

In New Zealand bird volume is the “canary in the mine”. Lots of birdsong is healthier than no birdsong, which indicates a rat/stoat/possum infested dead zone.  When Captain Cook landed he described hearing a “cacophony” of bird song, hence our project name.

The “Cacophony Index” is an easy way for people be able to discuss how the trend of conservation is going in their area – is it getting better or worse? Until we know for certain, there is no way to know what is the best methodology for pest control.

The Cacophony Index can get more sophisticated over time to be able to give and index for different types of birds and environments.

While the quality of the analysis may not be the greatest in the short term the aim is to create a high quality objective data set so that over time it can be reanalysed to give deeper understanding of what is going on in the environment. 

What is the cacophony index in your area? Join our quest to get the Cacophony back.