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It's not a birthday party, but a 'birdday bash for Roger Tory Peterson

An image of the late Roger Tory Peterson and a feathered friend, modified by the Roger Tory Peterson Institute to preview a birthday celebration scheduled for August 28 in Jamestown.
courtesy Roger Tory Peterson Institute
An image of the late Roger Tory Peterson and a feathered friend, modified by the Roger Tory Peterson Institute to preview a birthday celebration scheduled for August 28 in Jamestown.

Saturday afternoon in Jamestown, there will be a celebration of the life of the late Roger Tory Peterson, best known for creating the first modern bird watching field guide. It will mark the 113th anniversary of his birth.

"He was an international ambassador for birds. He was one of the driving forces and helping to relate democratize nature for a lot of people by helping people to really see nature and fall in love with it and help protect it all over the world,” said Arthur Preston, chief executive officer of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, which will host a 'birdday' celebration from noon to 4 p.m. August 28.

Peterson is credited for ability to illustrate birds with precision, being exact with dimensions but using an artistic distillation which helped users make a quick and accurate identification of a specific bird in the field.

And he wasn't a scientist.

"He was a kid who grew up in Jamestown falling in love with nature. He was inspired by the beauty of nature. He wanted to share that love of birds with the world. And I think what a lot of people might not realize is that Roger didn't train as an ornithologist,” Preston said. “He didn't train as a scientist or even an educator. He trained as an artist. And I think the genius, the brilliance of Roger, was that he combined his passion for art with his passion for birds, to come up with that modern field guy which had never existed before.”

As part of the celebration, the hosts will unveil a new mural created by local artist Erin Ruffino, which celebrates the legacy of Peterson.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.