|Roger Tory Peterson, probably the best-known and most influential ornithologist of the 20th century, was born of Swedish and German parents in upstate New York. He was considered a dreamer by his family and "strange" by his schoolmates because of his interest in nature. At the age of 11, he spent ten cents on a set of Audubon bird leaflets to study and color, and began his lifelong fascination with birds. He studied art at the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design, then became a schoolteacher until the unexpected success of A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS in 1934, after which he was able to devote his life to what he loved: studying, painting and writing about birds. He was married three times, divorced twice, and had two sons. He believed that people who watch birds are "a bit more civilized, a bit more aware," than people who don't. At his death, he was working on the fifth revision of his classic guide.