Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wild America

I’m finally reading Wild America by Roger Tory Peterson and James Fisher. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to read this legendary story of the two naturalists’ journey across North America. It’s one of those books that every budding naturalist is almost required to read. I have wanted to read it for a long time but for some reason my local library and all of its “sister” libraries don’t carry it. That’s a travesty if I’ve ever seen one.

Being only 100 pages into it, I can’t comment on the whole book, but what I’ve read so far has been really great. I’m a sucker for travelogue-type books, especially when they involve nature. For those who haven’t read it, the book is told from both Roger’s and James’s point of view at different times. Sometimes Roger is speaking and sometimes it’s James. Peterson gives his thoughts on the birds, the landscapes, and the characters they encounter while Mr. Fisher, being from the UK, gives his views on the many new birds and experiences he’s having. It’s wonderful to hear him recount his experiences of first seeing and our Wood-Warblers and their comparison to the cryptic Old World Warblers he is familiar with. His sense of wonder at the natural world is contagious and it takes me back to some of my first birding experiences. The two are clearly fond of each other and James’s perceptions of Roger give us an inside look into the life of the father of modern birding.

So far, Roger and James have visited the Cape St. Mary’s gannet colony, Maine, Washington, DC, Shenandoah National Park, the Great Smoky Mountains, and the southern swamps of Georgia and northern Florida. The sights and sounds they’ve encountered still exist to this day in most respects, but I have a feeling of dread as to some of the adventures coming up in the next several hundred pages. I fear that a lot of what they see has probably changed immensely in the 50+ years since the book’s publication. I’m sure some of it has been saved for posterity, but I fear that others have been developed or changed in a negative way due to invasive species or other changes. Scott Weidensaul addresses these fears in his Return to Wild America, which I will read immediately once I’m finished with it’s predecessor.

I’m looking forward to finishing this book over the next few weeks (I’m a slow reader). I welcome any readers comments about this wonderful and historical book.


MojoMan said...

I read this book almost 30 years ago. You make me think it's time to look at it again.

LauraHinNJ said...

I'm reading "The Return" first, but I'm a sucker for Weidensaul.

I hear you on how hard it is to find good books like this one at the library - the nature section must not be too popular, but if you have the patience to wait - interlibrary loans can bring them to you.

Patrick Belardo said...


Were you as into nature as you are now back 30 years ago?


Let me know how you like "The Return". Surprisingly, the 15 or so libraries in the network didn't carry it! I guess there's probably a way to reach out further though. I'm glad I bought it on eBay instead though. It's a keeper.