The Hidden Gems of Macaulay Library
Montezuma Oropendola - Audio 127299
Mixing strange gurgling noises with slightly screeching overtones, the song of the male
is one of the most impressive – and most strange – sounds you can hear the Neotropical rainforest. The display that goes with this song is equally impressive, as the male typically will throw himself forward acrobatically while singing, often hanging completely upside-down with wings spreads out wide. I studied the mating system of this species for several years, spending many hours sitting beneath colony trees while males gave their unbelievable displays above me. And so I will always have a special fondness for this bird and its strange song.
Walrus - Audio 53276
Once heard, the “coda” song of the male walrus is one of those unforgettable sounds in the world. It is comprised of two basic types of elements, series of evenly-delivered taps followed by an extraordinary bell or gong-like sound. The ringing quality of this latter element is astonishing, especially in an aquatic environment, and that such a sound is produced by a walrus seems all the more improbable (but true). The function is not fully understood, but may convey dominance status to potential mates and rivals.
Common Virtuoso Katydid - Audio 121695
Here is my favorite insect sound, the song of a common virtuoso katydid. This cut includes 4 or five songs from a single male. Listen to one of the 30-second long songs and see if you can hear the four different syllable sequences. The scientist who recorded this used roman numerals to designate the sequences as follows: I) the rapid trill which is followed by II) a slower and harsher trill followed by III) a harsh ‘tsssk’ which is then followed by IV) a series of quiet ‘ticks’. Can you pick them out?
Environmental Recording - Audio 161053
Temple in Vrindavin, India
This is an absolutely fascinating surround sound recording from the NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions collection! The recording transports the listener to another time, place and culture. The first 1 hour and 47 minutes will put you in the midst of a religious service, complete with bells, gongs, chanting, singing and drum sounds.
Scaly-breasted Wren - Audio 79750
I find this recording by the late Ted Parker to be special in many ways. From a technical standpoint, it is an excellent recording, like so many of his other recordings. The quality of this recording is especially noteworthy due to the fact that Microcerculus wrens are notoriously difficult to record. At the same time, I find this wren's song, with the slow, methodical delivery of its pure notes, to be among the most magical of all Neotropical bird sounds. Finally, the timing of this recording--made on a Conservation International RAP survey just before his tragic death--serves as a poignant reminder of Ted Parker's tireless contributions to ornithology and bird conservation.
Indri Lemur - Audio 138403
Listen to the captivating sounds of the Madagascar forest. Like almost all lemurs, the Indri is native only to the forests of Madagascar, an island located 250 miles off Africa's southeast coast. This species is endangered, due to hunting and habitat destruction and fragmentation. This recording was made during a Radio Expeditions trip in April 1995.
Dwarf Cassowary - Video 459734
The Dwarf Cassowary is native to the island of New Guinea and is found only in undisturbed forests from sea level to above 3,000 m – usually far away from human habitation. Because cassowaries (even the “dwarf” one) are the largest animals in the New Guinean forest, they are widely hunted for food. Cassowaries are flightless with rudimentary, difficult to discern, wings (if you look closely at the video, you can make out a few long black “shafts” sticking out from the sides of the bird’s body – those are actually the visible part of the wing!). The Dwarf Cassowary mostly eats fleshy fruits that have fallen to the forest floor. This one, captured by a remote controlled “camera trap”focused on the bower of male bowerbird (the structure on the ground in the center of the frame), was passing by and checked out the small fruits placed there as bower decorations by the bowerbird. Dwarf Cassowaries have been shown to be important seed dispersers and are even hypothesized to help some trees with specialized "cassowary fruit" to disperse seeds uphill. Big seeds naturally roll down hill, but cassowaries roost on ridge tops where the ground is drier. And where a cassowary sleeps, a cassowary defecates, which means the large indigestible seeds get moved uphill. I find this to be extremely cool!
Redhead - Audio 59599
The spring migration of waterfowl is one of my favorite sights to witness each year. Thousands of waterfowl push north as the ice on ponds and lakes begins to thaw. This is prime time for waterfowl courtship. Listen to hundreds of male Redheads displaying in this recording! Each time a male gives this call, he pulls his head back and quickly tosses it forward.
Green Turtle - Video 459485
This recording presents a classic example of a marine cleaning station. A bit slow to start, this clip gets much more interesting when a Green Turtle is fully revealed from behind the coral. This is one of my favorite clips because it shows some really interesting behavior, but also the mutualistic relationship between different organisms. Towards the end of the clip you get a real good look into the face of a Green Turtle. Listen carefully and you'll hear whales in the background, probably some nearby Humpback Whales.
Wood Duck - Video 440343
It feels like I could reach right out and touch him! A nice tight shot with good light and a good exit. I think my choices demonstrate my perspective as a production oriented viewer. Since I'm mostly looking for pretty video of birds just being birds, outlandish behaviors aren't among my favorites. This is simply a beautiful shot of a killer bird!
Bearded Seal - Audio 112595
If you were to imagine what outer space travel sounds like, then this Bearded Seal recording would be a nice fit – it has alien spaceships flying back and forth and many more otherworldly sounds. This lengthy clip is one of the most amazing recordings in the entire collection.
Forest Elephant - Audio 148489
A nighttime recording of a bai, a large clearing in the center of the Central African rainforest where hundreds of forest elephants gather to commune under the full moon. This recording, an excerpt taken from an entire evening recording session, is part of the NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions collection. I was fortunate to be the show’s technical director at the time and was given the opportunity to make this recording along with my former NPR colleagues Carolyn Jensen and Alex Chadwick.