Finally: a “Master Set” of 4,938 Downloadable Bird Sounds

Cover of Master Set of Sounds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Nearly 80 years in the making, the most comprehensive downloadable guide to bird sounds is now available—The Cornell Guide to Bird Sounds: Master Set for North America. Nearly 300 recordists through the decades captured the sounds of wailing loons, warbling warblers, grunting grouse, and everything in between. The 4,938 tracks were selected from nearly 200,000 recordings in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library—the world’s largest archive of  animal sounds.

From Abert’s Towhee to Zone-tailed Hawk, the Master Set presents the most complete vocal repertoires for 735 species of North American birds, available in downloadable MP3 files. A photo of each species is included. Examples of unusual vocalizations include the dawn song of the Acadian Flycatcher, the flight song of the Yellow-breasted Chat, and the display flight of the American Woodcock. Listeners may be surprised to learn that even common backyard birds, such as the Black-capped Chickadee, Carolina Wren, and Tufted Titmouse, make a variety of sounds they may not have known about. The Master Set also includes the voice of the now-extinct Bachman’s Warbler and the bubbling, popping courtship sounds of Gunnsion Sage-Grouse, an imperiled species.

The Master Set is now available at a special introductory rate of $49.99, a savings of $10.00 off the regular price.

Essential Set of North American bird sounds cover

For those who just want to get started learning about bird sounds, the Cornell Lab has also compiled The Cornell Guide to Bird Sounds: Essential Set for North America. The Essential Set includes 1,376 high-fidelity tracks, featuring the most commonly heard vocalizations for 727 species that regularly occur in the United States and Canada. The Essential Set is now available for the introductory price of $12.99 ($7.00 off the regular price).

“From 1929 to this very day, the Macaulay Library has a long tradition of collaboration with wildlife sound recordists,” says Macaulay Library audio curator Greg Budney. “We’re celebrating the talent and dedication of all the citizen scientists down through the years whose work makes up the bulk of these collections.”

Audio engineer Matt Young, who completed the work on the two collections, says the Master Set was created as a definitive North American reference guide for birders, researchers, and students. “These are living, breathing productions,” Young said. “We’ll always be looking to update the collections as new and better recordings come into the archive.”

Budney adds, “We hope these sounds motivate more people to work for the protection of birds so that these wonderful voices may still be heard by generations to come. Better yet, we hope these recordings inspire people to get to know the birds that are still alive for us to see and enjoy.”

These new sound collections are available in the Macaulay Library online store, where you can hear several more audio samples.

The Cornell Lab

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