A friend of mine and author Elizabeth J. Rosenthal (Liz) recently released a paperback version of her book Birdwatcher: the Life of Roger Tory Peterson. The hardcover was published in 2008 in celebration of the Peterson Centenary. I recently had the chance to ask Elizabeth (the author of Birdwatcher) a few questions about her marvelous book.
by Maxwell Croyden Wheat, Jr.
Comes with warblers,
waves of warblers
moving up the continents:
Black-throated Blues, Greens.
flourishing wing-tail skirts of white and yellow, Redstarts flashing flamenco fans of orange and red, Chestnut-sideds displaying headdresses of sun
flown from flames of Aztec fires,
Prothonotary emblazoned with Inca gold
Kenn Kaufman spent the evening talking to many guest and members of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI) in Jamestown, New York. Kenn is the fourth author who has been invited to speak at the Distinguished Speaker Series at RTPI (funded through the Johnson Foundation). Kenn is best known as the author of the book Kingbird Highway and his Kaufman Focus Field Guides. Tonight was the official release date for his newest Focus Guide on the Insects of North America and it looks like a very useful guide for any nature enthusiast (I know its going in my library).
1 March 2007 | Categories: Birds, Blip.tv, bugs, Butterflies, Dragonfly, Flickr, Frog, Kids, Mammals, Nature, Ornithology, Science, video, Wildflowers | Tags: Author, Author Lecture, discovery, Fun, Lecture, News, poem | 8 Comments
Great news everyone! Kenn Kaufman has been finally schedule to speak for the Roger Tory Peterson Institute distinguished speaker series on the 28th of February 2007. The lecture will be held over at the Stanley Weeks Theater on the campus of Jamestown Community College (is located at 525 Falconer Street, Jamestown, NY for those doing map quest).
Kenn Kaufman will introduce his new book, “A Field Guide to the Insects” and I anticipate him doing a wonderful slide program related to insects. I just learned from his website that this new insect guide has been illustrated with over 2,350 digitally enhanced images and they are planning on setting a new standard with detailed coverage maps. I can’t wait to see this book because I absolutely love how the butterfly guide turned out.
I have had an opportunity to hear Kenn speak twice before and every time he did a amazing job! I can’t wait to hear what he has to tell us again next month regarding the insects in his new book. Price for this event is $5 for member and $7 for non members. For more info you can contact the Roger Tory Peterson Institute at 716-665-2473 or on the web at http://www.rtpi.org.
by Maxwell C. Wheat, Jr.
They are the elves’ Christmas trees
Grandfather would say
of Ground Pine and Cedar
Once in the sun I laid on snow
eye level to see colored lights and bulbs
the size of frozen dew drops
They are lycopodiums, he’d say
teaching me again to pronounce the name
because scientific words have the sounds of poetry
You’ve got it, he’d laugh
his hearty red face broadening behind his white beard
his abundant frame rollicking
When I return home for the holidays
I always walk back to our woods
think of Grandfather assuring a small boy
Yes,I’ll see that the elves have a happy Christmas
I am glad lie-ko-po-dee-um is evergreen
Used by permission All rights reserved
Wheat, M.C. Jr. (2000) Following Their Star – Poems of Christmas and Nature. Cow Meadow Promotions. p.27
On Wednesday Bill Thompson III spent the evening talking to many guest and members of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI) in Jamestown, New York. B3 is the third author who has been invited to speak at the Distinguished Speaker Series at RTPI which was funded through the Johnson Foundation. He is best known as the editor and author of the magazine Bird Watchers Digest which was started by his father in the late 1970’s. He visited the institute to discuss his newest book called “All Things Reconsidered” which is a collection of essays written by the late Roger Tory Peterson.
During the “meet the author” reception; Bill told us some wonderful fun stories about himself as a kid becoming a birder. I will not get into too many details on how he had skipped school, ect… but I must admit that he had some wonderful roll models. I did love how his Grandmother insisted that when he was a little baby that his first words were “junco”!
During the lecture, Bill told us about how Roger Tory Peterson had been involved with the Bird Watchers Digest magazine since its very beginning. We learned about how his father confronted Roger in the mid 1980’s about doing an article for the magazine. Roger had thought about for a few minutes and ended up agreeing to do a column for the magazine (which continued up until his death in 1996). Bill went into wonderful discussion on how he was able to put this book together in honor of Roger Tory Petersons death 10 years ago. I strongly suggest you read this book to hear the whole story!!
I first had the opportunity to meet Bill Thompson III, from the American Online Birding chat room which I assisted in hosting from 1996 to 2001. Bill was one of the original people who assisted in getting this chat room established through AOL. Throughout the years, I had the opportunity to hear him and his wife speak at the Federation of New York State Birdclubs annual meeting (now called New York State Ornithological Association). My most memorable meeting of B3 and his family was at the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage here in Allegany State Park, New York – June of 2002.
I can’t remember if it was Bill or Julie (I think it was Julie because I remember the pet frog and bird story) but one of them was the main speaker under the big tent at Camp Allegany. What I do remember is Bill pulling out his guitar and the two started singing together. The most memorable part was that my 8 year old field assistant and I were invited to join their family out to France Brook road to do some birding. The kids (about the same age) had a great time identifying the numerous birds that we encountered and then found some cool insects together. This was a time period when I was really starting to learn my butterflies and Julie had pointed a few species out that I hadn’t learned yet. This will be a day that I will remember forever.
Even if you were unable to make it to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute to hear his talk, you can still learn from him at his Birding Blog at Bill of the Birds. His wife is also an remarkable blogger at Julie Zickefoose’s blog. I would like to thank Linda O. for first introducing me to their blog after the Scott Weidensaul’s talk. I knew that I had to add them to my RSS feeds ASAP and I know that you will equally enjoy their blog sites.
This evening at the Roger Tory Peterson Ornithological Club, we had Greg Budney present a program on Animal Sounds. Greg is the Director of the Sound Collections from the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Don’t expect the Macaulay Library to be your typical library because they have very few books on their shelves! They have the largest archive of animal sounds and associated video located anywhere in the world. You can find the natural behavior/vocalizations from the large whale to your local tiny leaf hopper. They have a very long hisotry of inventorying from way back when the lab first originated.
I had an opportunity to visit the library back in 1997 when working on some studies with post nesting vocalizations of the Veery. The staff was extremely helpful with our numerous goofball questions and they gave us a wonderful tour of their facilities (3 years ago they moved into a new building). After leaving the Library, we felt more confident in capturing the needed data for the project but funding never became available and we only collected some preliminary data for the project!
Greg Budney’s program this evening didn’t consist of any slides or pictures but we solely used our ears for this program. He played some sounds from animal that are commonly heard in movies to very low frequencies of the alligator which show vibrations of water before hearing the sound. We learned how researchers use these sounds for endangered species and discovered how insects use vibrations for communications. Best part of the program was learning what a researcher accidentally hitting another research’s head with a paddle (waking them up) sounds like over the microphone. Greg was a wonderful speaker and he helped remind me how important it is to use our ears while out in the field. While leaving the Roger Tory Peterson Institute we heard a Spring Peepers vocalizing behind the building (Linda and a few others at the meeting talked about hearing these guys squeaking, glad to have heard them also).
Do visit the Macaulay Library free online Animal Behavior Archive website.
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.