Carnegie Museums Creates a Bird Alarm Clock
Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Innovation Studio release Dawn Chorus.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History and
Innovation Studio released a bird app that lets users wake up to the
soothing calls of local birds.
Dawn Chorus, a new bird alarm clock, was
released in March and is now available to download for free on the Apple
App Store and the Google Play Store. Users can hear randomly selected
birds each morning or choose from 20 birds to create a custom alarm.
“This app is a beautiful way to incorporate nature into your everyday life,” Eric Dorfman, the Daniel G. and Carole L. Kamin Director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History,
said. “Its utility and artistic design make it appealing to everyone
from casual bird watchers to professional conservationists."
When the alarm goes off, birds begin to
appear in trees to create a chorus of song. Users can hear randomly
selected birds each morning or choose from local birds like black-capped
chickadees and magnolia warblers to create a custom alarm. All of the
birds are native to the northeastern United States, and users can hear
their calls and learn more about them on bird cards developed with
“What is really exciting about this project
is that it brings the museum into users’ daily lives in a utilitarian
way,” Jeff Inscho, director of Innovation Studio, said. “This is our
first foray into exploring the potential for museums to embed themselves
into everyday lives using technology.”
Innovation Studio is the design, development, and workflow laboratory at
Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, where it supports a culture of
innovation throughout the museums.
Many of the birds chosen for the app are species that Carnegie Museum of
Natural History scientists have studied or birds that are frequently
banded at Powdermill Nature Reserve, the museum’s environmental research
center in Rector, Pennsylvania. Other species were selected because
they are frequently impacted by window collisions—a phenomenon that the
museum helps study and prevent as part of BirdSafe Pittsburgh.
“Window collisions kill up to 1 billion birds each year in the United
States alone,” Matthew Webb, urban bird conservation coordinator at
Carnegie Museum of Natural History, said. “BirdSafe is a local
partnership that engages citizen scientists in researching the issue.”
Dawn Chorus has been downloaded about 3,000 times since it was released
and is being used in eight countries across four continents.
Ashley Cecil, the museum’s artist in residence in 2016, contributed
artwork to the app, and local bird photographer Steve Gosser allowed the
museum to use his photos. The bird sounds were acquired from the
Macaulay Library at Cornell University.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, is among the top natural history museums in the country. It maintains, preserves, and interprets an extraordinary collection of artifacts, objects, and scientific specimens used to broaden understanding of evolution, conservation, and biodiversity. Carnegie Museum of Natural History generates new scientific knowledge, advances science literacy, and inspires visitors of all ages to become passionate about science, nature, and world cultures. More information is available by calling 412.622.3131 or by visiting the website, www.carnegiemnh.org.