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Tufted Coquette Lophornis ornatus © Luke Seitz ML 50521501
Use high quality media for research, education, or commercial use

How to request media
Here’s how to provide credits

Audio and video recordings in the Macaulay Library are used by a broad audience for a variety of purposes. Scientists use the collection to better understand and preserve our planet. Teachers use our sounds and videos to illustrate the natural world and create exciting interactive learning opportunities. Our collection has even been used in movies and art! Through all of these, we help people depict nature accurately and bring the wonders of animal behavior to the widest possible audience.

If you would like to use the media from the Macaulay Library, you’ll need to request it through our website, and give proper credits. There is no licensing or studio fee for research requests.

Use Cases

Celebrating our students: Marcelo Araya Salas

Dr. Marcelo Araya Salas, post-doctoral researcher, studies the evolution of vocal learning in hummingbirds. Vocal learning is only found in a handful of mammals, including humans, and in three avian orders: songbirds, parrots and hummingbirds. Using techniques for measuring and classifying vocalizations of 272 species of hummingbirds and combining these data with techniques for looking… Read more

Celebrating our students: Russell Silva

Undergraduate Russell Silva is an engineering major who is developing a tiny electronic device to be attached to small birds, like hummingbirds, to track their movements. This is challenging, because it needs to be accurate, tiny, and lightweight, and communicate with receivers in forests. His tracker is using incredibly small difference in time delay of… Read more

Celebrating our students: Dr. Gavin Leighton

Dr. Gavin Leighton, postdoc, is studying why plumage among bird species that are not closely related is similar. Is it because one species will benefit from looking like the other? Downy Woodpeckers and Hairy Woodpeckers look similar to each other: is it because Downy Woodpeckers would experience less aggression from Hairy Woodpeckers by looking like… Read more

Celebrating our students: Jessica Dobler

We don’t know if hybridization is more common in some species of birds than others, so undergraduate Jessica Dobler is studying the factors that influence hybridization in birds. She is building a database of bird species and their life history and behavioral characteristics, using primarily information in the Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World… Read more

Celebrating our students: Tucker Birmingham

Undergraduate Tucker Birmingham is investigating the evolution of vocal repertoires across birds by looking at what factors influence repertoire size. She collected information from Birds of North America on each species’ habitat type, if they were cooperative breeders or not, and how many call and song types they have. Early results suggest that forest-dwelling birds… Read more

Celebrating our students: Matthew Lam

Undergraduate Matthew Lam is describing Blue Jay jeer calls, which are given when Blue Jays mob predators and in social contexts. He is using audio recordings of jeer calls in Macaulay Library’s collection and measuring characteristics of the calls with Raven (a program developed by the Bioacoustics Research Program, here at the Lab of Ornithology).… Read more

Celebrating our students: Dr. Karan Odom

Dr. Karan Odom, post-doctoral researcher is investigating how elaborate female and male songs are and what selects for the elaboration. Male songs are typically linked to sexual selection pressures, such as its representation of a high-quality, healthy male; but for females, it may be driven by their need to compete with males for resources or… Read more

Celebrating our students: Emily Keenan

Undergraduate Emily Keenan is examining the coordination of male-female duet singing in Neotropical wrens by measuring the duration and overlap of song phrases between singers. She’s interested in how did these complex, coordinated duets evolve. She is mentored by Dr. Karan Odom. #mlstudents #mlresearch

Celebrating our students: Kristi Lim

Undergraduate Kristi Lim (Class of 2021) is creating a database of which species of birds have documented song in females, along with males. She’s also collecting information on the natural history of these species, including mating systems, social bonds, territoriality. This information will be used to answer questions about the evolution of female song in… Read more

Celebrating our students: Nicola Love

Undergraduate Nicola Love studied how Blue Jays respond to alarm calls of titmice. In her senior honors thesis, she demonstrated that Blue Jays react to Titmice alarm calls and reduce their feeding when they hear Titmice calling to warn of predators. But Blue Jays respond more strongly to alarm calls from other Blue Jays. Additionally,… Read more

Celebrating our students: Joseph Welklin

This week we are celebrating our Cornell University undergraduates, graduates, and postdocs who work with us to explore scientific questions related to the behavior, ecology, and evolution of birds. Graduate student, Joseph Welklin, studies how the social environment influences Red-backed Fairy-wren plumage coloration. Young males molt into distinct black and red plumage at the start… Read more

Smooth dance moves confirm new Bird-of-Paradise species

Newly publicized audiovisuals support full species status for one of the dancing birds-of-paradise in New Guinea. This new species, called the Vogelkop Superb Bird-of-Paradise, is found only in the island’s far-western Bird’s Head, or Vogelkop, region. In a new paper published in the journal PeerJ, scientists “show and tell” half-a-dozen ways this form is distinct from… Read more

Female birds sing!

Did you know that female birds sing? They do! Females sing in 64% of birds species in which the male sings, but numbers grow as more are observed and reported. Often, it is monomorphic species– where males and females look the same– where female song is unreported, or assumed to be the male. Macaulay Library… Read more

Courtship display and nesting behavior of Black-throated Tody-Tyrants

Male Black-throated Tody-Tyrants hover back and forth in front of a female while making a “loud, whirring sound most likely produced by his rapid wing beats.” The courtship display and nesting behavior of these birds was described by Jenna McCullough and Gustavo Londoño in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology in 2017. #mlresearch #mlvideo  

1956: Our first scientific publication to cite the use of archived recordings

#tbt to the first scientific publication to cite the use of our archived recordings in 1956: Dilger, William C. “Hostile behavior and reproductive isolating mechanisms in the avian genera Catharus and Hylocichla.” The Auk 73.3 (1956): 313-353. William C. Dilger played calls of several species of thrushes and used models of birds to document aggressive responses… Read more

Videos used to track head movements

Videos of animals in the wild are available in the Macaulay Library. Sometimes, it’s just a 3 minute video of a bird perched on a branch looking at its surroundings: RESEARCH GOLD! Researchers from Purdue University used videos from Macaulay to track head movement of 29 bird species, including this Eastern Meadowlark. They learned that… Read more

Your photo could be featured in a scientific publication

Photos submitted by users through eBird to Macaulay Library are helping illustrate scientific publications. This Gray-fronted Honeyeater by Tom Johnson/ (ML 37354101) was featured in a recent publication on the evolution of body shape and ecology of honeyeaters. #mlresearch #mluse #mlphoto

Did you know that we have audio recordings of insects?

Ants, Wasps and Bees © Michael Andersen ML 125254 This recording of a bee was used by research engineers Jian Zhoua and Ronald Miles from Binghamton University in New York to show how spider silk transmits sound directly to a spider. #mluse #mlresearch #insects #spiders

Listen to a new species of antbird!

Whistling Antbird (undescribed form) © Daniel Lane ML 224880 Researchers have just described this species from the Cordillera Azul, San Martín, Peru in the upcoming issue of The Auk…/10.1642/AUK-17-97.1 #mlresearch

Crossbills of North America: Species and Red Crossbill Call Types 

As one of the most striking differences in bird occurrence from year-to-year in many northern regions of the world, finch irruptions are often exciting events. Will this winter have Pine Grosbeaks and Bohemian Waxwings dripping from the local crabapples? Will crossbills be crunching away in the conifers? Ron Pittaway’s finch forecast is always a much-anticipated read for… Read more

Decades of bird signals, songs digitized for scientific research – Science Nation

The world’s largest scientific archive of animal signal recordings, the Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds, is partnering with other institutions to co-curate and digitize an enormous archive of animal audio and video recordings from the library’s vaults. The analog material in the library’s collection at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology includes recordings of mainly birds,… Read more

Hermit Thrush Song Differs Across North America

Across the far reaches of America, the English language is spoken in colorful variation. If you’re Texan, I reckon y’all fixin’ for some coke in this summer heat, but as a Michigander, yuh guys go tuh gedduh pop. New Yorkers and Bostonians drink soda, but some wicked wee-id Bostonians drink tonic, while some New Yorkers… Read more

Dance Moves Support Evidence for New Bird-of-Paradise Species

The Superb Bird-of-Paradise—the shape-shifting black bird of central New Guinea that woos its mate with an iridescent blue “smiley-face” dance—has an equally superb cousin in the isolated mountains of Indonesia’s Bird’s Head Peninsula in the island’s far west. Scientist Ed Scholes and photographer Tim Laman, with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Birds-of-Paradise Project, have now… Read more

Building and Using the Macaulay Library Collections

When you don’t know something, you look it up. Perhaps you Google it, or go directly to Wikipedia. If you’re of a certain age, you used to go to a library and find the row of identical, black and gold books of Encyclopedia Britannica.  You may even ask someone, but you go to a trusted… Read more

Contributor Profile: Lance Benner

Lance Benner records audio of birds while mountain biking at night. He has regular routes and stops, and catches some recordings opportunistically, like an American dipper singing. Living in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains, he does most of his birding around his home. But he has also done some extensive traveling. As a Planetary… Read more

The Macaulay Library in the Sonic Sea

Jacques Cousteau’s The Silent World (1956) seriously underestimated the sounds marine life make, but he may have captured a bygone time when the ocean was quieter than it is now. The Sonic Sea documents the cacophony humans have created in the ocean. With increasingly global commerce, ships with loud engines are crisscrossing oceans on super highways,… Read more

Macaulay Goes to the Movies

The bird songs recorded in the Macaulay Library can provide serious entertainment. Recordings from the collection are used for media productions, either for authentic representations of animal sounds, or mixed to create an entertaining atmosphere. You may have heard a strange, prehistoric cry from the mythical phoenix Fawkes in the Warner Brothers movie Harry Potter… Read more

“What is Missing?”

  A Multimedia Exhibit by Artist Maya Lin World renowned artist Maya Lin created a one-of-a-kind multimedia experience to explore species extinction and our perception and memories of the past, present and future. What is Missing debuted in 2009, and is an on-going interactive project for visitors to explore videos and sounds, learn about species and habitat loss,… Read more