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Owl Call You Later
Emily Gertz, 18 Dec 06
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Looking for something to replace that "You're A Mean One, Mister Grinch" mobile phone ringtone after the holidays?

How about the call of the Blue-throated Macaw, Rufescent Screech-owl, or Pine Barrens Treefrog?

These and about 40 other endangered wildlife songs and calls have just been made available as ringtones -- for free -- by the non-profit Center for Biological Diversity. Check 'em out at the Rare Earth Tones site. According to the CBD's press release,

Among more than two dozen species of owls featured on the site, are the critically endangered Blakiston’s Fish Owl, of which only a few hundred owls remain in Russia, China and Japan, and the California Spotted Owl, which is rapidly vanishing from the forests of the Sierra Nevada and Southern California. The owl ringtones are made available in concert with the nonprofit Global Owl Project, a worldwide project to identify and conserve the planet’s owls.
Also available are more than a dozen ringtones of endangered and threatened North American frogs and toads, such as the Mountain Yellow-legged Frog, denizen of high elevation lakes in the Sierra Nevada and Southern California, and the Houston Toad, found only at a few locations in Texas. The Center plans to add ringtones for scores of additional imperiled species such as several endangered whales, dozens more tropical birds and North American songbirds, many more North American amphibians, and charismatic predators such as the Polar Bear, Gray Wolf and Jaguar.

The site also features fact sheets on each of these beleagured critters -- so you can have the anwers on the tip of your tongue when the eco-positive cutie standing next to you at the next Green Drinks asks about that cool Beluga Whale song on your Katana.

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My iTunes files all of these under "Blues."

Posted by: Cynthia Barton on 18 Dec 06

It's sad, just how apt that is.

How can these ringtones help? I love the idea an endangered owl flashmob/sing-in against the Sixth Great Extinction, right in the middle of a city.

Posted by: Emily Gertz on 18 Dec 06

If you get into the habit of coding and editing mp3 files, you find that when you're editing ID tags, the default genre tag is 'blues,' which I take to be a comment on the human condition...

Posted by: Jon Lebkowsky on 19 Dec 06

First off, I think it's very negative to say that the 'blues' represents the human condition...I count on Worldchanging to keep me positive...and I think it also isn't fair to that beautiful genre of music.

Second, Dan Jantzen gave a speech to the Long Now society (downloadable from the Long Now website) in which he basically says that if we know something, we will care about it and work to protect it - which has also been said by many others I'm sure - and that the use of technology to know something far away from you is an appropriate use of such things. It's a good point but not the greatest speech by the way...

Anyway, the only strange thing I can see happening to these ringtones is that people will get comfortable listening to them on the phone and forget that they may soon not actually be able to hear a species in nature. Maybe what should happen is that, after a while, the ringtone mysteriously disappears from the phone leaving the owner to wonder what went wrong.

Posted by: EJ on 19 Dec 06

EJ, I would not try to comment on the entirety of the human condition! It's the condition of these endangered and threatened animals that's blue. That's a fact that WorldChanging has never denied, even as we try to explore it in the context of solutions.

I really like the idea of the animal call fading away from the phone unexpectedly as a tangible expression of these animals being in danger of extinction. Cell phone artists, activists: what about it?

Posted by: Emily Gertz on 19 Dec 06

Hi Emily

I certainly didn't mean to paint anything with too broad a brush. I was actually referring to Jon's comments in the posts just above mine. As a biologist that studies tropical biodiversity in central Africa, I am definitely concerned with the 'blue' state of declining nature. I read worldchanging regularly to keep me in the 'solutions' mindset and try always not to get too depressed in the effort to 'save' some critical and beautiful ecosystems.

Thanks for all the wonderful posts.

Posted by: EJ on 19 Dec 06



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