Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology began archiving sounds from the natural world back in 1929, when the lab's founder, Arthur Allen, took down a short, four-second recording of a song sparrow. Since that time the lab has collected nearly 150,000 more recordings, and as of January you can search and listen to them all online.
The digitization project took 12 years to complete and all told it contains recordings of about 9,000 species totaling 7,513 hours of sounds. In a post on Cornell’s Tumblr announcing the completion of the effort, staff from the MacAulay Library (which houses the archive) highlighted a handful of particularly superlative recordings. These include:
- The “staccato hammering” of a walrus underwater, recorded off the coast of British Columbia.
- The eager squeak of a not-quite-newborn ostrich as it tries to break through its shell, recorded at Cornell in 1966.
- The extraterrestrial hoot of a Curl-crested Manucode, recorded in Papua New Guinea in 2011.
Image of Pacific Loon courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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