For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson by Peggy Thomas and illustrated by Laura Jacques covers Peterson’s life from early childhood. From a young age he was a keen observer of nature as well as a talented artist. Inspired by Yan of Two Little Savages by Ernest Thompson Seton, Peterson taught himself bird identification based on field markings. Realizing this same method could work in a book, he wrote and illustrated A Field Guide to the Birds, an instant sensation despite the Depression. His technique has been applied to the many Peterson guides and was even used by the military to identify enemy planes. The same careful observation that led to such a useful bird identification guide led him to notice the effects of DDT on birds and work diligently for its ban. Teased as “Professor Nuts Peterson” as a child, Peterson is an example to children that following their passions will lead to success.
Bird noises are everywhere now, from morning til night. But which birds are making them and what are they trying to say? In an engaging manner, Lita Judge reveals some of their language in Bird Talk: What Birds are Saying and Why. She covers not only songs such as the male American robins’ complicated mating songs which reveal their experience, but also sounds made through other means. The palm cockatoo drums with a stick to stake their territory; the Indian sarus cranes throw sticks into the air to announce their nest-building. Non-verbal communication such as the blue-footed booby dance is also covered. The great use of white space really makes the birds stand out. Their unique characteristics are easily identifiable. Roger Tory Peterson would have approved.
Head over to True Tales & a Cherry on Top to see this week’s Nonfiction Monday roundup.