Collective Memory

Woodpecker specimens, Ornithology Department, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology

When the oldest birding group in  the U.S. gets together woodpeckers and their historical significance among endangered bird species are often the order of the day.  The Nuttall Ornithology Club held one of their last meetings of 2011 at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, excitedly taking advantage of such a rich resource that includes specimens that have both ornithological and historical value.

The Nuttall club goes way beyond the garden variety birding group. Qualification for membership includes examples of ornithological scholarly publication, education, research and conservation efforts. Roger Tory Peterson, (of guidebook fame) is an example of the group’s “high bar”.


The concept of “collective” resonates strongly on this site.  As the world’s bird populations decline it becomes more and more imperative that both research collections and field work have access to monetary and academic support.  Scott V. Edwards, the ornithology curator at the Harvard Museum summed it up nicely in recent interview with New York Times conservation writer Cornelia Dean:

These clubs serve as a collective memory,” he said, “sometimes local but increasingly national and international eyes on the changing landscape of birds.

Hopefully collective memory leads to collective action.

One thought on “Collective Memory

  1. Pingback: Robo-bees | Raxa Collective

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