National Geographic : 1937 Jun
HUNTING WITH A MICROPHONE Leaving Kellogg ready in the sound truck, Tanner and I then rowed two duck boats to the opposite end of the lake. We followed devious channels so as to avoid the swans until we could start drifting slowly toward them from the opposite side. Swans are wary creatures and these kept moving away from us, with the cygnets be tween them. But so slowly did we ap proach that they had time to feed as they went, and little did they realize that we had cut off their avenues of escape, except the one that lay past the blind. Never realizing, they fell into this simple trap and within two hours had moved to the far side of the blind. Now we increased our speed and rowed in more quickly than the cygnets could swim, cutting them off from their parents and edging them over to the blind. With the two boats this was easily done, and in a few moments we had picked them up and placed them inside the cylinder of screening. We now rowed quickly back into the lake, and while Tanner diverted the atten tion of the old birds, I went ashore and sneaked into the blind. Jim then disap peared up the lake. Within ten minutes the swans had found their youngsters and were talking to them - into the waiting microphone. In a few minutes we had the sounds of both young and old safely recorded. I then pulled gently on the string, capsizing the cylinder and releasing the young without their know ing just what had happened and without their realizing that we were anywhere around (opposite page). The little cygnets swam from one parent to the other, talking back and forth and gradually moving up the lake again. They were none the worse for having been our prisoners for a few minutes so that we could make a permanent record of their voices that will go down through the years, even though all their kind should vanish from the earth. EXPEDITION'S SWAN SONG This was in very truth our swan song, though a happy one, and the end of our expedition. We had exposed ten miles of film, we had recorded the songs and calls of 100 species of birds, including the rarest in North America. We had filmed the home life of nearly as many and had filled our journals with observations that may help in the preservation of vanishing species. We now had six days for the return jour ney; two of these we spent in Yellowstone National Park where we filmed Townsend's solitaire and Williamson's sapsucker, and secured recordings of the Lincoln's sparrow, Audubon's warbler, and Clark's nutcracker. Unfortunately, the solitaire, though nest ing, had stopped singing, and our failure to record this beautiful song was one of the disappointments of the trip. By driving night and day and resting only while a broken axle was repaired, we arrived safely at Ithaca just ahead of the greatest flood in the history of central New York. Two hours after we pulled in, the deluge broke and ten inches of rain fell in the next few hours. The hillside road lead ing to my home was entirely washed out, so that after a successful journey of 15,000 miles, our trucks finally became marooned in my own backyard. THE SOCIETY'S NEW "BOOK OF BIRDS" IS READY The National Geographic Society invites attention of members to its new "Book of Birds," in two volumes, edited by Gilbert Grosvenor and Alexander Wetmore-the first work ever published portraying with comprehensive detail, and with full-color illustrations, all major species of birds on the North American Continent north of Mexico. Full-color portraits of 1,000 birds by Major Allan Brooks, more than 230 monochrome photographs and bird migration maps, 633 "bird biographies," and many fascinating articles by outstanding authorities-T. Gilbert Pearson, Arthur A. Allen, Robert Cushman Murphy, Frederick C. Lincoln, Francis H. Herrick, Alexander Wet more, etc.-are contained in this 704-page work. Because these volumes are published by The Society as a contribution to the increase and diffusion of geographic knowledge, and because the first cost of the en gravings has been assumed by THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, "The Book of Birds" may be purchased at a price of $5.00 the set, postpaid in the United States and possessions; elsewhere 50 cents additional. It is obtainable only from The Society's headquarters, Washington, D. C.