Bird Calls Phone - Atlas Obscura

Bird Calls Phone

An old pay phone rewired to play local bird calls and songs at the press of a button. 

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An old public pay phone that plays bird songs from local birds. By pushing the phone buttons, one will hear different bird calls, all local to Takoma Park. When you pick up the bright yellow receiver, instead of a dial tone you’ll hear the sound of a mourning dove. Each number corresponds with a different local bird: Press 1 to hear the call of a yellow-crowned night heron, or 9 to hear the distinctive cry of a red-tailed hawk.

The Bird Calls Phone was created by local resident David Schulman, who re-wired an old payphone in 2016 as a submission to a public art contest. Schulman is a composer and audio producer, and enlisted the help of several friends—and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology—to create the interactive art piece. Pushing the phone’s buttons will also play facts about the different bird species.

One of the calls included is a rooster as an homage to Roscoe the Rooster, who roamed Takoma Park for most of the 1990s.

Instructions for the phone are provided in English, Spanish, and Amharic (which Schulman included to ensure the phone was accessible to Takoma Park’s sizeable Ethiopian community).

Know Before You Go

No need to bring quarters, the Bird Calls Phone is free to use.

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January 26, 2024

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