Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Birds Who Sing Too Much: Streaming Audio vs Download

The British Library has a marvelous collection of sounds gathered in the field. What is interesting is that none of the sounds can be downloaded. They are streamed instead, using a pesky Real Media Player which stopped me dead in my tracks this morning as it forced me to download the latest Real Media Codec 3....which I thought I already had installed.

Birds Who Sing Too Much

Have you ever wanted to know what the song of a dotterel sounds like? Cheryl Tipp, of the British Library helped me hear one for the first time ever this morning on my couch in New York. Was it worth the wait? You bet. Not for the Real Media codec but to listen to the bird calls and roars of black panthers in the field. To paraphrase Melville's Ishmael, if it's ever a dull grey "November of your soul" just head for this site and listen to robins' dawn songs to get a lift.

In this truly transcendental cross-media moment you can also read all about young bird calls, bird calls as "deceitful mimicry" birds that " talk to themselves," and even about " bird to man communication" while you listen to the shrill and agitated cries of birds who perhaps " love too much."

If you want to get even into this Emmersonian moment open up another browser window ( or use Firefox) go to my post Hyperlinks and Lateral Story Telling where I wonder if hyperlinks, as in Hart Crane's poem " Forgetfulness" are " like a song that freed from beat and measure, wanders... like a bird that coasts the wind. " You can also read Hart Crane's avian-inspired poem in entirety here while listening to birds chirping on a Real Player pop-up window from the British Library site.

Or if you're still reading this blog instead of tackling something boring at work here's another link to help you waste some more time. Hear Birds Singing by clicking on the audio link at the bottom of the page at the British Library.

A Creative Commons License for Dotterels?

Of course the biz model here is " build a field they will come", with copyright registered in the name of The British Library, not the name of the amateurs who did this incredible recordings. You can listen, but you can't use these sounds. If I want to "use" the sounds I will have to pay for a license. Fair enough. The BL states that "The recordings on this site are for private listening only; copying, broadcasting or reproduction is prohibited". Am I reproducing by attaching this link? I will let you know later after I have asked the BL the same question later today.

Black Panthers Roaring

You can also listen to the sounds of bamboo rats, bare-faced tamarins, black panthers and other creatures here. No the black panther doesn't start singing " Power To the People". He roars. In fact that brings me to to the unrelated thought...where have all the Black Panthers gone? Go to my next post to find out.

The Wildlife Section of the British Library Sound Archive

Cheryl Tipps describes the British Library Sound Archives

I work for the Wildlife Section of the British Library Sound Archive and thought you might like to hear about our collection of wildlife sound recordings. We've existed since 1969 and currently have over 150,000 recordings of wildlife vocalisations and soundscapes, provided mainly by amateur recordists. You can find details of these recordings by visiting the BL website at and following the links to the Sound Archive's online catalogue (click on catalogue, then Sound Archive). You can also find out more about the section by visiting our webpages at Around 400 recordings from around the world can be heard on our Listen to Nature pages, so please go and take a look!

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