Since she moved to North Idaho six years ago, Susan Weller has emerged as the area’s leading advocate for songbirds.
“We have biologists who stand up for the well-being of deer and elk,” she said. “But as much as everybody says they enjoy them, there aren’t many people who speak out for thrushes and vireos.”
Weller, of Cataldo, is among the elite of area birders who can identify dozens of species by ear as well as by sight.
She is among an even smaller corps of bird experts who use these skills early in the morning to do bird surveys. The information is used by agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Biological Survey to monitor trends in bird populations.
The trends are grim, Weller said. Researchers have documented declines in dozens of species of North American songbirds.
“It ultimately boils down to the problem of too many people,” Weller said. “We’re overpopulated and altering or destroying every habitat on the only garden planet in the universe.”
The trend of homeowners moving out of cities to build homes in rural wooded areas is carving up woodlots, Weller said. This forest fragmentation is ushering in brown-headed cowbirds, which destroy the nestlings of songbirds.
Weller will present a slide program on bird navigation by celestial bodies and magnetic fields Tuesday at 7 p.m. during the Coeur d’Alene Audubon Society meeting at the Iron Horse Restaurant.