Wake Up to a Chorus of Bird Songs With This Mobile Alarm App

No matter where you live, you can wake up to the sweet warbles of songbirds. The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh’s Innovation Studio has released an alarm clock app to wake you up with the birdsong of your choice, as Hyperallergic reports.

Dawn Chorus came out of an effort to create a museum app that would be useful to people every day, not just on days they visit. What the developers came up with was an alarm clock that draws on the collection of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

The audio featured on the app comes from birds that are native to western Pennsylvania, all sourced from the Macaulay Library, a Cornell-based archive of multimedia recordings of wildlife species (especially birds).

There are 20 bird species to choose from in the app, and in addition to hearing their dulcet tones as you wake up in the morning, there are photos and descriptions of each species, including any environmental threats that face those birds and information on what the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is doing to preserve them.

When you set your alarm, you choose a time and the bird species you’d like to hear in your “Dawn Chorus”—the name for the songs that birds sing at the beginning of each day. You can choose up to five bird songs to add to your chorus, or just listen to one, choosing from species like the black-and-white warbler, the pine siskin, and the ovenbird.

It’s a lot more pleasant than waking up to a fire alarm or generic beeping, and a bit like going bird-watching while you’re half asleep.

Get it for iOS or Android.

[h/t Hyperallergic]

All images courtesy Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, photos by Steve Gosser

Watch How a Bioluminescence Expert Catches a Giant Squid

Giant squid have been the object of fascination for millennia; they may have even provided the origin for the legendary Nordic sea monsters known as the Kraken. But no one had captured them in their natural environment on video until 2012, when marine biologist and bioluminescence expert Edith Widder snagged the first-ever images off Japan's Ogasawara Islands [PDF]. Widder figured out that previous dives—which tended to bring down a ton of gear and bright lights—were scaring all the creatures away. (Slate compares it to "the equivalent of coming into a darkened theater and shining a spotlight at the audience.")

In this clip from BBC Earth Unplugged, Widder explains how the innovative camera-and-lure combo she devised, known as the Eye-in-the-Sea, finally accomplished the job by using red lights (which most deep-sea creatures can't see) and an electronic jellyfish (called the e-jelly) with a flashy light show just right to lure in predators like Architeuthis dux. "I've tried a bunch of different things over the years to try to be able to talk to the animals," Widder says in the video, "and with the e-jelly, I feel like I'm finally making some progress."

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

Big Questions
Why Are There No Snakes in Ireland?

Legend tells of St. Patrick using the power of his faith to drive all of Ireland’s snakes into the sea. It’s an impressive image, but there’s no way it could have happened.

There never were any snakes in Ireland, partly for the same reason that there are no snakes in Hawaii, Iceland, New Zealand, Greenland, or Antarctica: the Emerald Isle is, well, an island.

Eightofnine via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Once upon a time, Ireland was connected to a larger landmass. But that time was an ice age that kept the land far too chilly for cold-blooded reptiles. As the ice age ended around 10,000 years ago, glaciers melted, pouring even more cold water into the now-impassable expanse between Ireland and its neighbors.

Other animals, like wild boars, lynx, and brown bears, managed to make it across—as did a single reptile: the common lizard. Snakes, however, missed their chance.

The country’s serpent-free reputation has, somewhat perversely, turned snake ownership into a status symbol. There have been numerous reports of large pet snakes escaping or being released. As of yet, no species has managed to take hold in the wild—a small miracle in itself.

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