An Introduction to the Life of Ted Parker

Ted Parker pic
Ted Parker
Image: ebird.org

An academic psychiatrist and clinical educator for 30 years, Dr. Gregg Gorton is also an avid birder and a prolific writer. For the past 12 years, Dr. Gregg Gorton has been researching a book on the life of conservationist and ornithologist Ted Parker.

Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Ted Parker began watching birds and exploring nature as a young boy. In the same year that he graduated high school and began college, he tallied a total of 627 species and broke the existing record by 29 species. Mr. Parker embarked on his first international birding expedition two years later, when he received an invitation from Louisiana State University to join a team in Peru.

Ted Parker went on to study tropical birds across the Caribbean and Latin America. He became known for his ability to identify more than 4,000 species solely by sound. In 1989, he became a senior scientist with Conservation International, where he established a team survey approach known as the Rapid Assessment Program. This type of assessment is still used today to gather information about a threatened ecosystem.

Ted Parker traveled the world conducting surveys using the Rapid Assessment Program. On one such survey in 1993, his airplane crashed during an aerial survey of a cloud forest in Ecuador. Parker and four of his colleagues lost their lives in the crash, and the natural conservation world lost a pioneer.

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