Saturday, August 28, 2010

Roger Tory Peterson Is For The Birds

I suppose, like many people, I've been a bird-watcher all my life; it was when I was about eight, though, that passively watching birds - as in, 'Oh look, there's a bird' - became a lifelong fascination with them, resulting in many hours since spent observing their behaviour and paying attention to their variety. Hours, I don't mind saying, which have been among the best and most wisely spent of my life.

PhotobucketThat was about the time the books of Roger Tory Peterson came into my life, via that shelf in my grandfather's study where they were kept. They were books which I soon spent altogether more time with than my grandfather did, and so in time his books became mine, since he was always inordinately generous that way.

Peterson's avidity in the field of ornithology is evident not just in the enthusiasm with which he presents his subjects but in the accessibility he grants them as well; many so-called experts like to cloak their disciplines in layers of jargon, or otherwise render them impenetrable to outsiders, so as to keep out the riff-raff I imagine. Peterson, though, seemed to understand that the more people looked at birds the better chance these delicate creatures would ultimately have at survival in our midst. As urban sprawl and pollution render the entire world a kind of coal mine, all birds eventually become the canaries in it, as witnessed by the vast die off of species in the middle of the 20th Century due to the widespread use of DDT.

On what would have been the hundred and second birthday of Roger Tory Peterson, the Pop Culture Institute would like to suggest that you take the time to watch a bird today, even if it's only an urban species like a pigeon, crow, or seagull. I promise you the result will be a calmer soul and a refreshed perspective on our place - and theirs - in this world.
share on: facebook

No comments: