Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



Johnsgard, "A Book Collector's Guide to Roger Tory Peterson, " from Nebraska Bird Review (June 2006) 74(2).


Copyright 2006, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


One of the major disappointments of my youth was that I grew up without access to a real field guide to birds. My early years were spent in a small North Dakota village that lacked a library, and my only reference book on birds was a badly-tattered copy of a badly-illustrated 1912 book that my mother had grown up with, Chester A. Reed's Birds of Eastern North America. However, in 1939 a very kind aunt gave me a still-cherished copy of the Macmillan edition of Audubon's Birds of America as a Christmas present. With its hundreds of wonderful color plates, I finally had a way of identifying many previously unrecognized birds, But as I was soon to discover, a bird artist and author by the name of Roger Tory Peterson was about to revolutionize the field guide world. I suspect that many of today's birders were first introduced to birds and birding by a Peterson guide, so I thought that a summary of Peterson's products might be of interest.