Contributor essay
by
Alexandra E. Hui (Mississippi State University)
Early European settlers brought firearm technology to waterfowl hunting in the Americas. In the late eighteenth century, market hunting of the goose and duck flocks of the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways proliferated. Hundreds of bird species move along the Atlantic coast and from the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Minnesota and Ohio to the Gulf of Mexico, migrating between breeding grounds and wintering grounds, and in the nineteenth century, hunters began using sound to draw down these passing birds.
Contributor essay
by
Joeri Bruyninckx (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science)
Chip-chip-chip-chwee-chwee-tissi-chooeeo! These nonsense syllables have traditionally been used to capture the simple Chaffinch song, often to the despair of both novice birdwatchers and expert ornithologists. It is not to be confused with the Song Thrush’s Chippoo-it tio-tew tutee-o wee-ploo-ploo tu-itty. “Each bird sings its own song,” a well-worn cliché advises, and since the late nineteenth century, birders, naturalists, and biologists have sought to describe those songs to answer fundamental questions about animal communication, behavior, and evolution. But this scientific curiosity long predated actual agreement on how to capture and study such notoriously fleeting impressions with a satisfactory degree of accuracy.
Object, Instrument, Technology

The parabolic microphone uses a parabolic reflector to collect and focus sound waves onto a receiver, ensuring great directional sensitivity along the axis to which the reflector is directed. The microphone found initial application in sports and theater broadcasting, and later in eavesdropping and espionage during World War II. It also became a key instrument in the recording of animal vocalizations, and as such provided an important stimulus to the field of biological acoustics.