Tag Archive for history of field guides

Roger Tory Peterson

When you or I think of field guides, we most likely think of Peterson Field Guides. Roger Tory Peterson, the author of the series, became a birder as a child, and after years of watching and studying birds, he set out to create his own practical guide to bird identification that could be used in the field. His book Guide…

Color Key to North American Birds

Another step towards the modern field guide happened in 1903, when ornithologist and curator at the American Museum of Natural History Frank Chapman worked with illustrator Chester Reed to produce a book whose sole aim was “the identification of the bird in the bush”. Their Color Key to North American Birds (available here through Project Gutenberg) was the first to rely on…

Florence Merriam

Birding in Audubon’s time was about crazed amateurs tramping through an endless American wilderness, determined to draw every bird there was, or at least all the ones they could find. After Audubon his fans began to develop a professional class of bird enthusiasts, and the story behind birding shifted. Ornithology became a discipline, and men like  Spencer Fullerton Baird and Elliott Coues began developing departments…