Influence of a Teacher

I’m learning birds. Ever since our visit to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute I’ve had an increased interest in birds. I bought a suet, and I made a little frame to hold it, and I’ve added that to our backyard feeder. We’ve unearthed a copy of the Peterson Field Guide to Birds that belonged to our daughter Bee. At the Institute we learned that Peterson pretty much transformed the world of birdwatching when he published the first field guide in the 1930’s. Up to that time field guides were mostly text, and they droned on and on about the most minute hard-to-see features of birds’ appearance. Peterson painted his beautiful and detailed pictures of birds, emphasized the most salient visual features to help in identifying the birds, and minimized the amount of text. He says his 6th-grade teacher inspired him to excellence. Now is that cool or what!?

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In any event, this morning there was a woodpecker at the suet, and I used the Peterson guide to figure out that it was a Downy Woodpecker. Does that make me a “birder” now?

Yeah, I know. I’ve always been a bit bored by people’s stories about the birds at their feeders, so I’ll cut this short. But it was pretty exciting to see a bird that I haven’t really seen much before!

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