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An Extraordinary Find

Posted on Feb 6, 2014


A rare treasure came to light recently, a tangible connection to the fledgling career of the great naturalist of the 20th century.


Janet Hinshaw, Bird Division Collection Manager at the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, made the discovery: a study skin of a Wilson’s Phalarope chick bearing the name Roger T. Peterson on the label.


She asked us about it – Could it be the Roger T. Peterson who collected and prepared the specimen?


The answer, it turns out, is yes, we can be absolutely certain that the specimen was collected by the one and only Roger Tory Peterson on 25 June, 1929 in Jackson Co., Michigan, when Peterson was 20 years old.


Douglas Carlson relates in his biography of RTP, that Peterson started his teaching career as a nature study instructor at a YMCA camp on Stony Lake. While there, Carlson writes, “Peterson was able to watch prairie chickens and establish the first documented breeding record in Michigan for the Wilson’s phalarope by capturing a fledgling.”

Mark Baldwin
Director of Education