Of all American presidents, just one might have halted the playing of “Hail to the Chief” so he could listen to an Orchard Oriole singing — Theodore Roosevelt, “the conservation president.” During his presidency, Roosevelt helped establish 51 preserves for birds, five national parks, 18 national monuments, and 150 national forests. But, busy as he was, the birder president took time to list 91 bird species he saw – or heard – on the White House grounds.
A 10-year-old Teddy Roosevelt sketched this House Sparrow.
Today’s show brought to you by the Bobolink Foundation.
Theodore Roosevelt, Presidential Birder
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote.
[A few strains of “Hail to the Chief”]
Of all American Presidents, just one might have halted the playing of “Hail to the Chief” so he could listen to an Orchard Oriole singing outside the White House.
[Song of Orchard Oriole]
Any guesses which one? Here’s a hint: his face is carved on Mt. Rushmore.
It’s Theodore Roosevelt, an avid naturalist and bird observer from an early age. His very first publication was a list of 97 summer birds he’d seen in the Adirondack Mountains, published by the prestigious Linnaean Society. And he was only 19!
He loved bird songs. [Song of Orchard Oriole] As a boy, he even developed his own system for transcribing them.
Roosevelt was truly “the conservation president” at a time when the country really needed one. During his presidency, 1901 to 1908, he helped establish 51 preserves for birds, five national parks, 18 national monuments, and 150 national forests.
But, busy as he was, the birder president took time to list 91 bird species he saw – or heard – on the White House grounds, including that Orchard Oriole.
[Repeat song of Orchard Oriole]
Writers for BirdNote include Bob Sundstrom, Todd Peterson, Ellen Blackstone, Frances Wood, and Dennis Paulson. Our producer is John Kessler and our executive producer is Chris Peterson. Today’s show’s brought to you by The Bobolink Foundation.
[Go out with “Hail to the Chief”]
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Song Orchard Oriole  recorded by W. Hershberger.
“Hail to the Chief” played by the United States Marine Band, album Hail to the Chief, 2005 Altissimo
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org May 2017 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# rooseveltt-01-2014-____ (subject to change)rooseveltt-01
Lists of federal bird reservations, preserves, national parks and monuments, etc. established while president: http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trenv.html#BIRDRESERVATIONS
His White House bird list http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/images/research/trbirdswhitehouse.pdf
bird list – summer birds Adirondacks – published in 1878 when Roosevelt was 19 years old http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/images/research/summerbirdsadirondack…
T.R. on Birds, quoted at http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trenv.html:
"Birds should be saved for utilitarian reasons; and, moreover, they should be saved because of reasons unconnected with dollars and cents. A grove of giant redwoods or sequoias should be kept just as we keep a great and beautiful cathedral. The extermination of the passenger-pigeon meant that mankind was just so much poorer.... And to lose the chance to see frigate-birds soaring in circles above the storm, or a file of pelicans winging their way homeward across the crimson afterglow of the sunset, or a myriad of terns flashing in the bright light of midday as they hover in a shifting maze above the beach-why, the loss is like the loss of a gallery of the masterpieces of the artists of old time."
- A Book-Lover's Holidays in the Open (1916).