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Roger Tory Peterson Institute

The Roger Tory Peterson Institute is situated on 27 acres of woods, fields, and wetlands on the northern edge of the City of Jamestown. The headquarters’ grounds are laced with walking trails that are open to the public during daylight hours.


Natural History Interest
The property is mostly wooded with relatively young trees that grew up during the decades following its use as cow pasture. A few large trees remain, including some Eastern Hemlock, American Beech, and Black Cherry. There are also some fine specimens of Cucumber Magnolia, Sourgum and American Basswood. Native trees and shrubs such as American Hornbeam, Red-osier Dogwood, Northern Arrowwood, Serviceberry, and Witch Hazel form the understory along with the invasive introduced honeysuckles.

The forest floor tends to be acidic, which favors ferns and heaths. Ferns are quite abundant and include such species as Christmas Fern, Hayscented Fern, Sensitive Fern, Cinnamon Fern, and New York Fern. Plants in the heath family create loose carpets of low or creeping shrubs and include Wintergreen and Lowbush Blueberry, even Trailing Arbutus in a couple of spots. Woodlands, wet areas, and meadows are good places to view wildflowers including Blue Flag, Mayapple, Canada Mayflower, Star Flower and Spotted Touch-me-not. A man-made pond on the property is a rich resource for invertebrate studies. Aquatic insects that have been observed here include giant water bug, backswimmer, water boatman, and water measurer.

Who To Contact
For information on contacting or visiting RTPI please see our contact page here.

How To Get There
RTPI is located at 311 Curtis Street, Jamestown, NY 14701 across from the campus of Jamestown Community College. From exit 12 (Jamestown) off of I-86, take NY 60 north (away from Jamestown). Proceed on NY 60 under a mile to the first right (Horton Rd). Turn right onto Horton Rd and proceed to the first right (Curtis St Ext). Turn right onto Curtis St Ext and proceed to the Institute. It is on the right, just past the City of Jamestown sign. There is a prominent sign at our driveway near the road.


When turning in you can park in the parking area immediately on the right. A driveway leads to our main building and signage to the left and right of the building indicate trails. Brochures and more information on the property are always available at the front desk during normal operating hours just inside of the main entrance on the left.

What To See
Methodical and specific data is still being collected for many forms of life on the grounds of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. To view the eBird hotspot of RTPI complete with recent bird sightings click on this link. To view an eBird bar chart page of all recorded sightings click on this link. Overall the most common birds seen include mostly forest and shrubland species as well as backyard species that visit the feeders building the building. Migration can be seen at RTPI running along the tree lines surrounding the building where a large variety of warblers, vireos, sparrows are to be found in spring and fall. A sampling of uncommon or intriguing bird sightings includes Sandhill Crane, Great Horned Owl, American Woodcock, Ruffed Grouse, Common Nighthawk, breeding season Merlin, Pileated Woodpecker, Philadelphia Vireo, Mourning Warbler, Pine Warbler, Common Redpoll, Fox Sparrow, Wilson’s Warbler, Brown Thrasher, Hooded Warbler, and Prairie Warbler.

The property is crossed by breeding Snapping Turtles each spring. Other reptiles that have been observed include Smooth Green Snake, Brown Snake, Common Garter Snake, and Redbelly Snake. Among the amphibians that may be found here are Northern Leopard Frog, Bullfrog, Wood Frog, Spring Peeper, Redback Salamander, Eastern Newt, and Spotted Salamander. Mammals that have been sighted include Eastern Chipmunk, Red Squirrel, Eastern Gray Squirrel, Eastern Fox Squirrel, Woodchuck, Red Fox, Gray Fox, Raccoon, White-tailed Deer, Muskrat, and Eastern Cottontail. Odonates are seen both as migrants and breeders including species like the Black Saddlebags and hundreds of Dot-tailed Whiteface in the pond, respectively. Lepidoptera can be found in the butterfly gardens in front of and alongside the main building as well as the field habitat we maintain in multiple areas. Species can include everything from the common Clouded Sulphur to the Viceroy and migrants like the Red Admiral. We will be rapidly adding to the list of life that can be found at RTPI.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) at RTPI

Why It’s Important To Conservation
RTPI is situated on the north side of Jamestown, one of the larger urban areas of the region. As such its grounds can act as a migratory stopover point for a variety of species of birds as a number of diverse habitats are actively maintained and managed. The Roger Tory Peterson Institute itself is dedicated to continuing the legacy of Roger Tory Peterson by promoting the teaching and study of nature, thereby creating knowledge of and appreciation and responsibility for the natural world.