Scott Weidensaul Returns to Wild America
On Wednesday author/ornithologist Scott Weidensaul spent the day speaking to many guest and members of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, New York. I have had numerous communications with Scott via email due to my Saw-whet Owl studies here in Allegany State Park. I found it a pleasure in finally meeting him in person. I recommend that you take the time to read his book “Living on the Wind” which has won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize. I love this book so much that I have quoted the “studying bird migration by the full moon” info in my Mon@rch Nature Blog.
Scott currently has numerous bird banders and volunteers involved with his Northern Saw-whet Owl banding project. Currently he oversees 3 banding stations located across southern Pennsylvania and has had a very low number of captures this season. We were comparing our numbers of owls, mice heard and of course this wet weather. I hope Scott is correct with his prediction that next season will be an irruption year for these little fuzz balls. During the “meet the author” reception, Scott discussed what genetic studies his team has been looking at across North America, some radio telemetry work being done in Pennsylvania and discussion on how he is using this information to better understanding the nomadic behaviors of these owls.
Scott continued in his discussion on some of his other studies involving western hummingbirds that have showed up across the eastern North America. He described some of the theories on why this has started to occur and what it means for those rare species that are regularly visiting people’s hummingbird feeders.
Further discussions reveled that Scott is also very interested in herpetology since childhood. I feel very fortunate to learn about an experience he had with a Milk Snake and the proper ways of grasping these snakes.
The main lecture was focused on his new book “Return to Wild America”. In 1953, Roger Tory Peterson and British Ornithologist James Fisher adventured down the east coast starting in Newfoundland, across the Florida Keys into Mexico, then up into Alaska. Scott followed this North American tour exactly 50 years after these two renowned naturalists took the trip and Scott was successful in describing the changes (good and bad) which have occurred over those 50 years. He showed a beautiful slide program with descriptions on how the two adventures were similar and different. I will let you read the book to hear some of those stories but you had to be there to experience the sound effects he vocalized and his discription of visualizing some sausages he saw out on the beach. I enjoyed this slide program and suggest that you take the time to visit him when he speaks at a Nature Center near you.
Overall, Scott was a very kind hearted individual and I would have loved to spend some time out in the field with him. He autographed my book with “For Tom, a fellow Saw-whet Nut – keep sending them south!”. You can purchase his book at Amazon.com to read more about his adventure.
Next author being scheduled at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute is Bill Thompson III (still unsure the date and time). Bill is the current owner of Birdwatchers Digest and both Bill and his wife (Julie) are wonderful “entertaining” speakers. I recently learned about their blogs at Bill of the Birds and Julie Zickefoose blog and plan on visiting these blogs on a daily basis. I am lucky to say that I have had the opportunity to meet both of them on numerous occasions. The family has gone camping here in Allegany State Park during the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage and I have run into him at a few conferences that I have attended. I expect this to be equally entertaining program and I hope you are able to attend.