Marsh Award for Innovative Ornithology

2015 - Mark Constantine and the Sound Approach

Mark Constantine and the Sound Approach have revolutionised the appreciation of bird vocalisations through their pioneering approach to ornithological sound recording. The project engages a very broad audience in the subject of bird songs and calls, while at the same time answering some important ecological and taxonomic questions.

Since 2000, Mark Constantine has been building a major new collection of bird sound recordings. The collection now exceeds 50,000 recordings of more than 1,000 species making it one of the largest privately owned archives of bird sound recordings in the world. The team have a strongly structured approach to collecting, managing, analysing and storing their recordings, something that greatly increases their worth for analysis.

The Sound Approach aims to popularise birdsong and raise standards in the use of sounds in bird identification. Subjects of particular interest to them include ageing and sexing birds and also recognising hidden biodiversity and ‘new species’ through bird sounds.

While sound recording itself isn’t entirely new, the way in which The Sound Approach members have used and presented that information has been innovative. Their interactive e-books are a case in point, with ‘readers’ able to follow the sonograms while listening to the vocalisations that are built into the text.

The passion and expertise shown by those involved in the project is striking. They have brought the science of birdsong to life through their innovative approach to communicating its richness and revealing the secrets contained within the calls and songs they record.

Pictured: Mark Constantine and Magnus Robb looking at Undiscovered owls for the very first time (top), The Sound Approach stand at the 2015 Rutland Birdfair (middle), A group photo of the Sound Approach team at the Dutch Birding Day, 21st March 2015 (bottom)


British Trust for Ornithology
The Nunnery
IP24 2PU
Tel: +44 (0)1842 750050
Fax: +44 (0)1842 750030
Registered Charity Number 216652