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I am in a semi-rural area of Aldergrove, BC Canada--close to the US border. From our house we can hear the call of what we think is an owl, but would like to know what particular species. We were out walking in the evening (after dark) and had my still/video digital camera along when we heard a bird call. Since it will record sounds with a video, I aimed it in the direction of the bird call and pressed record. After a few attempts, we were able to get a recording without too much background noise. Where can I send an owl recording to help me identify my nocturnal caller in southwest BC?

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Would the user who cast the close vote please provide some feedback, here or in Meta? Thanks! – Russell Steen Feb 29 '12 at 19:50
@RussellSteen I voted to close as I don't feel identifying bird calls from recordings is on-topic for this site. – Graham Feb 29 '12 at 20:43
For anyone interested, there is a meta discussion going on the topicality of this question. – Kevin Mar 1 '12 at 0:54
@Glen Can you share the audio? There are some that are pretty distinctive, and perhaps one of us will recognize it. – Don Branson Feb 24 '13 at 21:04

Cornell Labs has several good resources:

The Sibley app also has bird sounds you can compare to (as do several other mobile apps):

There is supposed to be an app coming out which can identify automatically, but I have not yet found a copy of it to download. It's called WeBIRD.

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I agree with berry120 that contacting local experts, or even hobbyists will most likely be the easiest way to go. They should have a much better knowledge of local species than you would be able to find in (online) literature.

Comming across plants or animals in the outdoors its always interesting to identify them, but not always easy. In my experience its mostly a game of subtracting possibilities. You know its a bird and likely an owl, thats a good start. To further narrow it down you need to get an overview of all possible species in the region.

Of those, using a bird guide I can tell you the following are least likely for your location: short-eared owl, great grey owl, snowy owl, eastern screech owl, flammulated owl, northeren hawk owl and burrowing owl.

You've only heared the bird, so you will need to compare based on sound. Keep in mind that species can have many different calls, and that they can differ between gender and location (for species with a very large range). The above website also contains sounds for the specific owl, but for birds in general one of the most extensive sound libraries I know of is:

If you have a recording, you could also post it on their forum and see if anyone with knowledge of the owl species comes across it.

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As you said, xeno-canto is an extraordinary, exciting site for bird lovers all over the world! Although I haven't yet submitted anything, I've learned a lot. Their sounds are also available for download to personal web-sites. In fact, many of the bird-calls found at the great RSPB site @Liam recommends were downloaded from there. – Sue Jul 31 '15 at 3:03

If you're after a certain, one-off dead set answer then you might want to try looking up departments / experts in this area in academia and then send them a polite email saying you'd be very grateful of their help. I'm sure many would be willing to answer since as experts in their field it'd probably take 2 seconds to work out (and many people I know in academia in various fields are willing and open to respond to questions like this.)

A quick search brought up this page which links to Cornell University - you may want to give them a try.

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For UK birds the RSPB maintains a directory of birds

The information on each bird includes a recording of it's call:

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In addition to the other answers, I'd like to recommend BirdForum, a large online birding community. It's free to sign up, and they have a specific forum devoted to answering bird identification questions. I've used it myself for help with unidentified birds, and got very quick, useful responses. If you upload the recording somewhere and post a message there with a link to it, I think you'll have an excellent chance of getting someone to identify it.

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