Thursday, August 28, 2008

RTP's Legacy: My Pile of Peterson Books

As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Roger Tory Peterson's birth today, the first thing that comes to my mind is the Peterson Field Guide to the Birds, of course. But second, I think of all the other field guides and nature books that bear the Peterson moniker. Houghton-Mifflin's "Peterson Field Guide" series has always been a favorite of mine. Here's my pile of Peterson field guides.

I know Roger himself didn't write many of these, although he did edit some and he has forewords in many. Most of these guides are pretty good, but a few are a bit less useful and get pretty technical at times (The Fern guide, for example, ugh!). I always love getting new Peterson guides simply for the fact that they're a great intro to a topic. They also Some of the field guides are outdated and new, better books have appeared in many areas - insects, butterflies, etc.

It seems like it's been a while since a new Peterson non-bird guide has come along (late 90's perhaps?), but there's one that I'm waiting for: Ed Lam's Peterson Field Guide to Dragonflies. It's one of the few areas that the series hasn't covered and they've got a really phenomenal artist to do it. Being a big fan of Odes, I'm psyched.

Is there a topic that you'd love to see covered in a Peterson guide that hasn't been covered? Do you have a favorite non-bird Peterson guide? Please leave a comment!

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I began with RTP's guide to wildflowers & wore out the first one! I have 6 or 7. Flowers, 3 birds, animal tracks, trees, stars, butterflies & maybe more (I'm at work) I always go back to Petey for ease of use because that's what I learned on. (I started with wildflowers because they didn't fly away while I was trying to ID them)My most prized possession is an autographed "Birds Across America" (I think that's the title) given to me by my cousin who was lucky enough to meet him back in the fifties. When asked who is my hero I have always replied Roger Torey Peterson!
Susan

Rick said...

The new Mammals guide is really fine. Links here: http://birdaz.com/blog/2007/06/28/panama-rodent-identification/

Have a great weekend, Patrick!
r

Patrick Belardo said...

Susan, I'd love an autographed Peterson anything!

Rick, somehow I missed that new edition. Darn, I bought the old one back in 2004. I guess I'll add it to the shopping list. :) Thanks!

John said...

I am looking forward to the dragonfly guide, too. It was a notable omission among all the other guides.

My favorite of the bird-related guides is the warbler guide.

Patrick Belardo said...

Actually, now that I look at my pile, I don't have the mammals book... I have the Kaufman one and the Princeton one.

OpposableChums said...

Hi, Patrick.

Pending Ed Lam's book, what's your favorite Dragonfly guide out right now? I'm in the market.

Thanks-

Jason

Patrick Belardo said...

I really don't have a recommendation for a full US field guide. The "through binoculars" book is no good because the photos are too small and not to scale. The Stokes "Beginners" Guide is suprisingly good for the common US species. Since I do most of my "ode-ing" in NJ, I like the "Damselflies and Dragonflies of Massachusetts" by Blair Nikula, et al. It's the guide of choice here in NJ. Ed Lam's Damselfly Guide is also outstanding.

OpposableChums said...

Then I expect the Nikula will also work in CT.

When it comes to field guides, I PREFER regional rather than national. Peterson's "Eastern Birds" will come with me into the field, while the new national guide will stay in the car.

OpposableChums said...

Then I expect the Nikula will also work in CT.

When it comes to field guides, I PREFER regional rather than national. Peterson's "Eastern Birds" will come with me into the field, while the new national guide will stay in the car.

Patrick Belardo said...

I concur on the regional guides, especially when it comes to butterflies and dragonflies where distribution and flight times are important. I think you'll do great with the Nikula book. It seems to be kind of hard to find online...I found it here:
http://store.gardensare.com/books/odonata.html

OpposableChums said...

Thanks!

The Mincing Mockingbird said...

What a collection of guides! I'm envious!