I am sitting on the bus, quietly studying the magazine in front of me. Many other of the passengers are doing the same with their smart phones, iPods, novels and newspapers, silently wrapped in their own worlds of text and typed conversation. Glancing out the window, I watch the houses and small corner markets go by, each beginning to start the day’s activities as the sun breathes some energy into the still dozing city.
Suddenly, a harsh cry pierces the air inside the bus. It shrieks and moans, ending with an almost laughing chitter. Everyone inside snaps to attention and is dragged out of their placid cocoons, each searching anxiously for the source of the racket. The haunting wail repeats, and I notice more and more pairs of eyes begin to focus on the space immediately next to where I am sitting. Again, the wild screech sounds its alarm, and I realize the source of the distress is coming from inside of my purse.
“Shoot. Sorry, I forgot to put this on silent.” I reach into my bag and turn down the volume on my cell phone. For several years, I have been using the call of the Common Loon as my ring tone, a sound file I downloaded from the Center for Biological Diversity’s Rare Earthtones website. For some reason, I envisioned the haunting lament of the bird to be a unique and humorous way to signal a call. Usually I get a few laughs and some bewildered glances, but on full volume the effect is admittedly a bit startling. Luckily, the site has more mellow alternatives, such as the gentle song of the humpback whale or demure hooting of a burrowing owl.
To download your free ring tone, visit the Rare Earthtones site, click on the “Download” tab, and sign up for their email newsletter. Then, preview the file of your favorite endangered animal, and once you find one that suits your fancy, submit to have the file texted to your phone. After that, follow your phone’s instructions for saving and dropping the sound into your ringtone library. Soon, you can answer to the howl of an endangered wolf, croaks of rare frogs, and growls of exotic tigers instead of the mundane buzzes, bleeps and boring jingles on every other phone in the urban jungle.
Turn your Call of the Mild into a Call of the Wild!