October 06, 2022    
7:15 pm - 9:30 pm


Academy of Natural Sciences
1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia

Event Type

A recording of this presentation can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmMFQJzUuqU


Meeting timing: 7:15PM Zoom opens; 7:30-8PM club business; 8PM presentation followed by questions. Please register for the meeting whether you will be attending in person or via Zoom. Then watch for the meeting link in your email. Disregard the meeting link if you will be attending in person.



Do you consider yourself a “birder” or a “bird watcher”? Although both terms are used today, often interchangeably, they have different connotations. “Birders” are regarded as hardcore, ambitious, and dedicated to keeping lists of birds they’ve seen—the longer the list, the better the birder. In contrast, “bird watchers” are viewed as less driven, not so serious, and more passive about seeing birds.

“Although birds do not change, birdwatchers do,” Roger Tory Peterson asserted in the foreword he wrote for Roger F. Pasquier’s Watching Birds: An Introduction to Ornithology (1977). Elsewhere, Peterson elaborated on how birders underwent a “metamorphosis” as they passed through several stages, progressing from “looker or lister, to full-fledged watcher.”

In this lively presentation drawn from extensive primary and secondary research, John C. Rumm—who proudly calls himself a “bird watcher”—traces the changing meaning of “bird watching” and the rise, fall and resurgence of “bird study” from the late 1800s to the early 21st century. Recently retired, Dr. Rumm earned his doctorate in American history from the University of Delaware. He spent more than four decades in archives, museums and historical agencies, including the Hagley Museum and Library, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Constitution Center, the Buffalo Bill Center of the American West, and, most recently, Nemours Estate in Wilmington, Delaware, from which he retired a year ago. As vice-president and newsletter editor of Meadowlark Audubon Society in Cody, Wyoming, for seven years, Dr. Rumm realized that he could combine his lifelong passion for birds and his interest in history and began researching the history of popular and scientific ornithology in America. His presentation is part of a larger study, the tentative title of which is An Unsung Revolution: The (Re)discovery of the Living Bird. Dr. Rumm and his wife, Carolyn (Lyn) Stallings, live in Lewes, Delaware; they recently returned from a two-week trip to Florida, where they spent many happy hours watching birds both old and new.

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