For Roger Tory Peterson

For Prospect Park’s 150th year, I’m digging into the files for reports of discoveries in the park over the seven years of this blog’s life. This is from three years ago:

Backyard and Beyond

Protonotaria citrea“A golden bird of wooded swamps.” — RTP on the Prothonatary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea), photographed in the Ravine yesterday in Prospect Park.Protonotaria citreaYesterday was the 80th anniversary of the first publication of Roger Tory Peterson’s A Field Guide to the Birds. Now, I don’t doubt that humans have been watching birds since we’ve been humans, and even before that (I mean, some of them are delicious). And there were a few guides to birds for the layperson before Peterson, but he really opened up the world of bird-watching well beyond the scientific (ornithologists took specimens) and tome-ish. His inovotions included field marks highlight by arrows, something that seems so obvious now; and the grouping of similar species on the same page, handy for comparing and contrasting. (This is a potted history, but enjoy the flowering plants that result. Check out Weidensaul’s Of A Feather: A Brief History…

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2 Responses to “For Roger Tory Peterson”


  1. 1 michela caudill May 2, 2017 at 11:50 am

    You say you dislike bird guides with photographs, yet you take thousands of photographs of birds, somewhere there is a disconnect, or a sense of arrogance on your part. Please reconsider your comments.

    • 2 mthew May 2, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      It’s a personal preference, of course, but one or two photograph in a book per species tends to neglect female birds, or those in juvenile plumage. Illustrations, perhaps because they are more platonic, as it were, work better for me.


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