The World's Largest Library of Animal Sounds Is Now Online & Ready for Licensing

Macaulay Library Animal Sound Recording
If you need specific and accurate animal sounds for your film, Cornell University's Macaulay Library has you covered.

The library, which has been collecting recordings of animal sounds since 1929, now consists of over 150,000 unique recordings in which over 9,000 species are represented. In the past few years, the entire library has been digitized by the Macaulay staff and made searchable so that people looking for specific sounds can easily find and license them. All in all, the catalogue contains more than 7513 hours of material.

Why would this come in handy, you ask? Well, in part because of the extreme specificity of the library's catalogue. If you have a script that relies on a character hearing the sound of a yellow-billed loon — maybe said character is an arctic researcher or Alaskan fisherman — you can now incorporate that oddly specific sound into your film. Or maybe you're looking for one of the creepiest animal noises you can find. In that case, the call of the common loon will make your spine tingle.

Although it has been reported on several other sites that access to this library is free, in reality, it depends on what kind of license you intend to pursue. For instance, I placed an order with Macaulay for the aforementioned call of the yellow-billed loon, specifying in the order that I was pursuing a commercial license for an independent film. One day later, I received an email saying that the cost to license that sound would be $25. Not bad, but certainly not free. There are other licensing options, however, and depending on what you choose, you may or may not end up paying a licensing fee. 

It's also worth noting that Macaulay also deals stock footage of many of the animals, some of which can be seen in the videos above. And though the library consists largely of bird media (it does come from the school of ornithology, after all), there are also recordings of elephants, whales, frogs, primates, and many more. Here are a few staff favorites:

If you're interested in certain animal sounds for your next film, head on over to the Macaulay Library site and browse through their massive catalogue. You'll most likely find the exact sound you're looking for, and you might also find some creative inspiration through listening to the other bizarre, exotic noises that they've captured throughout the years.     

Your Comment


20$ for a sound. 200$ for a stock footage. We are film makers, art creators, not stockbrokers.

October 24, 2015 at 5:10PM

Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor

haha love that comment

October 25, 2015 at 5:04AM

Kenny Rehmeier
Co-Founder of Visualize You

It's still significantly cheaper than flying around the world to capture these sounds and videos on your own.

October 25, 2015 at 11:33AM

Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom

It's funny when you're the content creator and people are asking it for cheap... suddenly it's a completely different story ;-)

October 26, 2015 at 4:54AM, Edited October 26, 4:54AM

Matt Carter
VFX Artist / Director / DP / Writer / Composer / Alexa Owner

At least the audio has no watermark. If you know what I'm saying. I'm SURE they can identify the sound in your indie movie and sue you.

October 26, 2015 at 9:49PM

Cosmin Gurau

Not a bad price. I'm looking for a sound for a single monster in a film. I'll gladly pay a little if I can get that sound to be perfect by mixing in an animal noise... after all, hearing the monster can be scarier than seeing it.

November 9, 2015 at 9:28AM

Producer/Writer/Director/Prop Maker