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Happy Birthday Mr. Audubon!

Written on: April 26th, 2010 by: in Blog Posts

I noticed this morning that today is the birthday of James Audubon, America’s most famous ornithologist and naturalist. He was born 225 years ago in Haiti, and fled to the United States 18 years later. In his most famous work, he illustrated more than 1,000 American birds in a series of 435 engravings- releasing them to subscribers 5 at a time over the course of 11 years. (the plate featured above is Buteo lagopus, or the Rough Legged Hawk)

If you want to see the illustrations in all of their original size and majesty, you could do worse than take a trip to Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences. Every Friday, the Academy turns over a new leaf in its mammoth “double elephant folio”-sized bound collection of original plates from Audubon’s Birds of America (more than 50 inches tall!) If you go back every week for 8 1/2 years, you’ll see the full collection. Alternatively, you can check out a much more portable at 23 inches tall, “baby elephant folio” version of the book from your Delaware public library.