The Internet is often praised for its potential to “give everyone a voice.” But what about whales, walruses and Eartha Kitt-like lemurs? The ostrich, the hawk, the sparrow, the loon? The Macauley Library at Cornell University, home of the oldest and richest collection of bird (and other animal) recordings in the world, has now fully digitized its collection and made it available online to anyone.
“The collection contains nearly 150,000 digital audio recordings equaling more than 10 terabytes of data with a total run time of 7,513 hours. About 9,000 species are represented. There’s an emphasis on birds, but the collection also includes sounds of whales, elephants, frogs, primates and more,” proudly claims Cornell, which took a dozen years to digitize its menagerie. Naturalists refer to a bird sighted outside its normal range as an “accidental.” Cornell–by extending the range of all these noisy creatures to the entire planet–can now lay claim to having created the biggest happiest “accident” on the Internet.