Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Macaulay Library of Animal Sounds

Sapsucker Woods, Cornell University          photo by eflon
We were just settling in for the night. We had already tested the hammocks to see how far you could swing someone before she'd land with a thump. Our scout leaders were tucked into a cabin, farther down the hill. We were on our own. Suddenly, we heard the most hair-raising sounds! We had no idea what creature it was, but there would be no sleep that night.

I've wondered about those shrieks for a few short decades, and I think now I can identify the shrieker. After searching the Macaulay Library of Animal Sounds from Cornell University, I can say that we probably were hearing two wrangling raccoons, although there was more screaming than you hear in this recording. The Macaulay Library is, "The world's largest natural sound and video archive of animal behavior."

There are other sounds on my Website Wednesday featured site that are not conducive to sleep, like this Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, recorded in--of all places--Sapsucker Woods, Ithaca, New York. Another animal sound that scared the living daylights out of me was the snort of a white-tailed deer. Call me a wimpy kid if you must, but that snort can be spine-chilling!

You can select broad categories like arthropods, or fish, or search by common or scientific name. Notes are available giving details of the equipment used and sometimes the recordist or videographer. One recording I found is an 87 minute interview about amphibians held in Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge, a really fascinating place in southern Arizona. Frogs caterwaul in the background.

There's lots of video too, including this one of a beautiful mountain lion. The video was shot by Tim Barksdale, former St. Louisan and Webster Groves Nature Study Society member. Video and audio from this site is copyrighted, so I can't post it, but hopefully you'll use these links and enjoy them.

I was able to embed the mountain lion audio from the Missouri Dept. Conservation's article about the confirmed cougar sighting in Chesterfield (St. Louis County, MO), that I wrote about a few days ago. Click the play button below. If we had heard anything like this, we would never have camped again!

Courtesy of Missouri Dept. of Conservation.


  1. My male cat (Berlioz) just went crazy when I played the mountain lion audio!

  2. Who knows what dark instincts we have kindled in his kitty/carnivore heart?