National Geographic : 1993 Jun
Silence of the Songbirds By LES LINE Photographs by SCOTT GOLDSMITH biologist Sam Droege as we unfold from his subcompact at 5:19 a.m. and are greeted by a Clamor from North America's best known songbird. "They're so noisy at this time of the morning, you can't hear anything else." Well, not exactly. Over the insis tent caroling of robins claiming possession of the shadowy lawns and churchyards in a still slumbering community, Droege's keen ears register a mourning dove, house finch, catbird, mockingbird, and chipping sparrow. And one second before the three-minute alarm sounds on his chronometer, a drowsy cardinal chirps a halfhearted call note. Singing a sweet solo, a prairie war bler adds to the chorus of migrant songbirds in decline across the United States. As the scale of losses comes to light, alarmed experts ask: Can we save our birds of summer?