spur winged lapwing

Today’s TBT is a piece of presidential history! Pictured are birds mounted by the then 14 year-old Theodore Roosevelt, collected in Egypt in 1872. The specimens are an Egyptian spur-winged lapwing, a crocodile bird, and a white-tailed lapwing.

An avid student of the natural world, young Roosevelt spent long hours studying animal anatomy, behavior, and habitats, compiling notebooks and sketches of what he saw, and reading scientific texts. His special interest was birds. 

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. created his own Roosevelt Natural History Museum in his family’s New York City home. The collection included the skull of a seal acquired from a fishmonger, birds’ nests, insects, and mouse skeletons, and it soon expanded to include some 250 specimens—items Roosevelt later donated to the Museum and the Smithsonian Institution.

See a snowy owl mounted by Theodore Roosevelt, and learn more about the 26th President of the United States