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How to do bird audio cleaning via Audacity?

Shaun M Jooste

Published

Have you ever recorded a podcast or talking session and discovered there are birds singing in the background? Perhaps you played guitar or piano, but the birds ended up on the sound file between rests. Fortunately, there are some editing tools you can use on Audacity to eliminate the issue.

Performing bird audio cleaning on Audacity is easy and only takes a few steps. Once you know how to do it, you can use it to clean other types of noises. Of course, it depends on your approach and what you’re aiming to achieve.

How to do bird audio cleaning via Audacity?

What is bird audio cleaning?

Bird audio cleaning can refer to two different types of goals. The first one, which we’ll focus on in this article, is removing bird noises from your sound file. It usually occurs when there’s a gap in the speaking or music and you can hear the bird calls in the background.

The second type is more complicated. It refers to the practice of recording bird sounds so you can use them in sound files or music. When you perform bird audio cleaning in this situation, you’re eliminating any background noises you don’t want to accompany the bird sounds.

How to perform bird audio cleaning on Audacity

No matter which approach you take, you can use the steps below for both forms of bird audio cleaning. We’ll focus on removing the bird sounds on Audacity, but you can also do so for any other background noises. The same rules apply.

  1. Search for the bird sounds on the recording

    How to do bird audio cleaning via Audacity

    To begin, start the sound file on Audacity and watch the wave patterns. You’ll need to find a spot where there’s as much silence as possible surrounding the bird sounds. That’s why most content creators wait about six seconds at the start and end of recordings to give them a reference point.

  2. Select the bird noise reference

    How to do bird audio cleaning via Audacity

    Once you have a section where you only hear the bird sound you want to remove, you’ll need to select it. Make sure you only highlight the part where the birds are chirping away. Now, go to Effect and then Noise Removal. When the window appears, click on Get Noise Profile.

  3. Clear the bird audio sounds

    How to do bird audio cleaning via Audacity

    Audacity now knows which noise you want to clear. All it needs now is for you to say where you want it cleared from, especially if you don’t want to apply it to the entire sound file. When the window vanishes, select the entire recording or only the portion where you want to do bird audio cleaning. 

    Head back to Effect and Noise Removal, and now click on OK. You’ll notice that the sound waves change slightly. All the background bird noise effects are now gone. You can start the steps over again if there are other sounds you want to eliminate.

How to minimize bird audio recording

While clearing bird audio in your sound file via Audacity really works well, prevention is better than cure. There are some steps you can take to save time in post-production with editing and eliminating background noise. We recommend the following tips:

Microphone quality

High-quality microphones have mouthpieces or mesh filters to help block out ambient and bird sounds. Always research the devices before you buy one to see whether they’ll assist so you won’t have to do too much editing.

Recording space

It’s best if you record in a space that isn’t close to the bird sounds. We know it’s not always possible to do so, as you may be performing an interview or podcast recording outside. The more you can block bird sounds from the area, the better.

Reduce ambient noise

The one element that may interfere with bird audio cleaning is ambient noise. If there’s too much interference from other sounds, you may not be able to identify and eliminate bird calls properly on the file. You may need to first deal with the ambient noise and then the bird sounds.

Increase microphone gain

Some microphones let you increase the microphone gain, which means it stands a better chance of recording your voice-over background noise. It may be a dial on the mic or a setting in the software. Check the manual for how to apply it.

Move closer to the mic

Another trick is to move closer to the mic so your voice drowns out the bird sounds. Of course, you don’t want to get too close, as the recording will distort and sound terrible

Do a few test recordings first

Run a few tests before you start the first official recording. Check the tips above for how you can improve the sound files, and then see if it improves when you apply any of them. If all else fails, do bird audio cleaning with Audacity.

How to do bird audio cleaning via Audacity

Silence of the birds

While the sound of birds is spectacular in the morning when you wake up to the sunrise, it can become a nuisance when you’re recording a new album or podcast. Of course, it’s a different matter if you’re deliberately capturing bird sounds and other background noises are causing issues. Either way, these tips for Audacity will help you come right.

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