By Amy K. Hooper
Amy K. Hooper, WildBird Editor
This month, we begin honoring Roger Tory Peterson (1908-1996), the naturalist credited with revolutionizing birding in 1934 when he combined his artistic abilities with his species identification skills into “A Field Guide to the Birds.” The book’s publisher reported that the first printing of 2,000 copies sold out in one week.
That first field guide eventually grew into the Peterson Field Guide Series, which now includes dozens of titles ranging from birds to insects to plants to mammals and more. Peterson considered himself a teacher first, and his desire to educate other birders and the public about birds and nature in general informed his life for many decades.
“If you get bored with birds, you’re bored with life,” Peterson’s credited with saying. No doubt many birders and naturalists agree.
One naturalist who holds Peterson in high regard is Kenn Kaufman, who serves on the board of directors for The Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in Jamestown, N.Y. (800-758-6841, www.rtpi.org). Kaufman also serves on WildBird’s Advisory Board, and for this issue, he wrote about Peterson’s formative years leading up to “A Field Guide to the Birds.” You’ll find the article on page 36.
In the next issue, Kaufman will continue Peterson’s tale. Then we hope to include your thoughts about and memories of the man often referred to as RTP. How did Peterson affect your experiences as a birder? Was his field guide the first one in your hands? Did he open your eyes to other aspects of nature?
Please share your tales and remembrances with us by sending a letter to WildBird/RTP, PO Box 6050, Mission Viejo CA 92690 or an e-mail to email@example.com (subject line: RTP). You’re invited to send digital photos of RTP (300dpi JPG only), too. Please send all contributions before April 18.
Peterson probably would applaud WildBird’s 2007 Birder of the Year, retired teacher Cindy Beckman. During her career in the classroom, she opened the eyes of many young students to the wonders of birds. You can learn more about Beckman and the prizes that she’ll receive by turning to page 6.