SALT LAKE CITY -- The barrage of noise that surrounds our lives can create tension or soothe our souls. An expanding archive of the "Western Soundscape" at the University of Utah brings the calls of the wild to your computer.
When you hear the bugling of an elk or the cry of the scrub jay, the sounds carry you away to the Western wilderness.
"It really makes you think of the natural world in a new way, just being able to hear the sounds of animals that you might have just read about in a book or just seen a photo of," said Anna Neatrour, project manager of the University of Utah's Western Soundscape Archive.
The archive now includes more than 1,000 different bird species, frogs, coyotes, even an ant! [CLICK HERE to learn how scientists collected sound from ants]Research librarian Jeff Rice told us, "The sounds here and the places here are unique, so we want to capture that unique flavor of the West." [CLICK HERE to see how sounds are collected]With the click of a mouse, you can hear a mouse. The sounds are cataloged and free online as part of the collection of the J. Willard Marriott Library.
"The goal is to really capture as many of the species in the American West as we possibly can and preserve the sounds for future generations," Neatrour said.
Animals and environments are disappearing, so one of the key motivations behind this project is to capture the sounds while we still can.
"Part of our goal is to inform people of what's out there and give them a chance to hear it, and maybe open up their ears and their minds to the natural sounds," Rice said.
Birders, teachers and students will explore, and maybe we'll all hear reasons to listen more closely.
Many people and organizations have contributed sounds to the archive. You can download weekly podcasts visiting the archive's Web site, www.westernsoundscape.org.