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Posts tagged “Roger Tory Peterson

Peterson Field Guide to the Birds [book review]

peterson field guide

This month Houghton Mifflin revised the Peterson Field Guide to the Birds of Western North America (4th edition) after not being updated in nearly 20 years. The Peterson Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America (6th edition) was also revised and was released on March 14th 2010. Both books include the many name changes and taxonomic splits and lumps, along with its typical Peterson style maps and arrows. These revisions include updated text and 40 new paintings for two series of books. New to these revisions include over 3 hours of downloadable Video Podcasts from many different categories.

Roger Tory Peterson’s 100 Year Birthday Party

Kenn Speaking
RTPI Group for the Peterson festival!

This weekend the Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI) celebrated the 100th anniversary for the birth of Roger Tory Peterson with a big birding festival. RTPI had lined up a world series of speakers and had many participants for his celebration.

Roger Tory Peterson

Roger Tory Peterson
Born: 28 August 1908 Birthplace: Jamestown, New York

” . . . the man who made America
a nation of birdwatchers.”

William Zinsser
Writer and Critic

Your dashes are arrows
in A Field Guide to the Birds, the green-bound “Peterson”
tucked into belts, pushed into pockets, stuffed into backpacks

Arrows that lead eyes of millions,
squinting through binoculars,
to the red-brown cap and black “stick-pin”
identifying the passerine in snowy branches.
“That’s it,” the new birder exclaims,
pulls out list, checks off the “Winter Chippy,”
American Tree Sparrow

Arrows that glide to crest and black necklace of Blue Jay,
“golden slippers” of Snowy Egret,
yellow “spectacles,” black sideburns, of Kentucky Warbler,
purple throat, green crown, decurved bill of Lucifer Hummingbird,
white tail tip of Eastern Kingbird.
The Bald Eagle with white head and tail is “all field mark.”

In the salt marsh in May, the birder thinks “Life Bird?”
Focuses on shorebird
prodding mud flat with Short-billed Dowitchers,
Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstones. Greater Yellowlegs,
Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers,
Semi-palmated and Black-bellied Plovers.
She has identified all with the dried, wrinkled pages of her “Peterson.”

She studies what she knows to be a plover,
concentrates glasses on this bird feeding
by greening shoots of Spartina grass.
Again, she stares at your art,
your arrow guide slanting to the back.
She rereads your description:
“spangled with golden spots above.”

Suddenly, her freckled face is a loud smile,
her whisper a bursting
“Golden Plover!”

Field Guide, 1996
The Roger Peterson Institute of Natural History

By Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr. ©