NZ bird calls part of online collection

00:23, Jan 17 2013
black-fronted tern
ONLINE SOUNDS: A call from a black-fronted tern is one of 452 New Zealand recordings available on a Macaulay Library of Cornell University online collection.

Birders and other wildlife enthusiasts worldwide now have thousands of animal sounds available literally at their fingertips.

A university in the United States has digitised its collection of nearly 150,000 recordings of animal sounds, including more than 400 recordings of New Zealand wildlife.

The Macaulay Library of Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York, has made its archive of sounds from about 9,000 species available to the world via its website,

A search of the database by recording location shows 452 audio recordings from New Zealand, including at least three of birds songs recorded in Canterbury and one in the Mackenzie Country.

Two, the calls of the black-fronted tern and the wrybill, were recorded by Ornithological Society of New Zealand member William V. Ward in 1969.

Mr Ward also recorded the double-banded plover at the Ohau River mouth that same year.


A fourth recording, of kea calls, is attributed to Cornell Lab of Ornithology staffer Hannah Walker. It was made in 2010.

''Our audio collection is the largest and the oldest in the world,'' Macaulay Library director Mike Webster said. ''Now, it's also the most accessible.''

The entire collection has a total run time of 7513 hours and equals more than 10 terabytes of data, according to a media release. The project took about 12 years to complete.

In New Zealand, a sound archive that includes many bird calls was long maintained by Radio New Zealand and is now in the care of the New Zealand Film Archive.

The Department of Conservation also maintains a collection of wildlife sounds and videos under the Conservation section of its website at

The Timaru Herald