BCR 162: Dale Dyer, Birds of Central America

Dale Dyer has been painting birds for books for about twenty-five years. These books are mostly field guides, such as those to Peru, Trinidad & Tobago, parts of Brazil, and North America. He has also drawn habitat and behavioral scenes for several books on birds of New York state. His latest book is Birds of Central America, coauthored with Andrew Vallely, for which he painted all 260 plates.

Long an avid birder, Dale began his career painting the human figure, landscapes, and other subjects of modern life, and later brought his interest in birds and art together. He is a long time Brooklyn resident who grew up on nearby Long Island. He does much of his research, and often executes his work, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and in 2014 was made a Field Associate of the Ornithology Department there.

Since 1996 Dale has been travelling frequently to the Neotropics, often in the company of ornithologist Andrew Vallely, who introduced him to Neotropical birds. Years of field study, museum research, and experience painting birds from various countries led the two, in 2007, to feel ready to take on a major project covering an entire region. Birds of Central America is the result on ten years of daily labor.Dale was awarded the Eckelberry Fellowship from the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel in 2014, and the Eckelberry residency at the Asa Wright center from the Society of Animal Artists in 2007. He has taught at the NY Botanical Garden and the Woodstock School of Art. Raised in a family of musicians, Dale has performed regularly as a cellist for several decades.

Show Notes: 

  • Where do you do your fieldwork and what does it entail?
  • How long did it take you to get to a pub date after you started the project?
  • Why did you exclude certain areas such as Mexico and the Caribbean when is appears that some of the avifauna is shared?
  • give us an overview of the existing literature on the ornithology of this region.
  • This may be the first time that all of the information on the birds of this region have been included into a comprehensive single source, were there difficult decisions made about the scope?
  • Discuss research on siskins, hummingbird.
  • You include residents and migrants and vagrants, what are your basic benchmarks for including a species?
  • You have been drawing and painting birds for a number of years, who influenced your development as an artist?
  • How is producing field guide art different that creative art?
  • What region of Central America remains the least understood from an ornithological point of view?
  • Besides, lumping and splitting, how likely is it that there are still new birds to be found in Central America?
  • What are you working on now?

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1 Comment

  1. Diana on June 3, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Fascinating information on how bird field guides evolve.

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