Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Facts About John James Audubon - strangefacts

  • John James Audubon from 1785 to1851 was an American Woodsman
  • John James Audubon was not the first person to attempt to paint and describe all the birds of America (Alexander Wilson has that distinction), but for half a century he was the young country’s dominant wildlife artist
  • His seminal Birds of America, a collection of 435 life-size prints, quickly eclipsed Wilson’s work and is still a standard against which 20th and 21st century bird artists, such as Roger Tory Peterson and David Sibley, are measured
  • Although Audubon had no role in the organization that bears his name, there is a connection: George Bird Grinnell, one of the founders of the early Audubon Society in the late 1800s, was tutored by Lucy Audubon, John James’s widow
  • Knowing Audubon’s reputation, Grinnell chose his name as the inspiration for the organization’s earliest work to protect birds and their habitats
  • Today, the name Audubon remains synonymous with birds and bird conservation the world over
  • John James Audubon was enrolled in the French Naval Academy at he age of 14
  • He was also a limner (traveling portrait artist), dance instructor, clerk and taxidermist
  • In 1819 he was briefly jailed for failing to pay his debts
  • Audubon was born in Saint Domingue (now Haiti), the illegitimate son of a French sea captain and plantation owner and his French mistress. Early on, he was raised by his stepmother, Mrs. Audubon, in Nantes, France, and took a lively interest in birds, nature, drawing, and music
  • In 1803, at the age of 18, he was sent to America, in part to escape conscription into the Emperor Napoleon’s army. He lived on the family-owned estate at Mill Grove, near Philadelphia, where he hunted, studied and drew birds, and met his wife, Lucy Bakewell
  • While there, he conducted the first known bird-banding experiment in North America, tying strings around the legs of Eastern Phoebes; he learned that the birds returned to the very same nesting sites each year
  • With no other prospects, Audubon set off on his epic quest to depict America’s avifauna, with nothing but his gun, artist’s materials, and a young assistant. Floating down the Mississippi, he lived a rugged hand-to-mouth existence in the South while Lucy earned money as a tutor to wealthy plantation families
  • In 1826 he sailed with his partly finished collection to England. "The American Woodsman" was literally an overnight success
  • Audubon found a printer for the Birds of America, first in Edinburgh, then London, and later collaborated with the Scottish ornithologist William MacGillivray on the Ornithological Biographies – life histories of each of the species in the work
  • The last print was issued in 1838, by which time Audubon had achieved fame and a modest degree of comfort, traveled this country several more times in search of birds, and settled in New York City 
  • He made one more trip out West in 1843, the basis for his final work of mammals, the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, which was largely completed by his sons and the text of which was written by his long-time friend, the Lutheran pastor John Bachman (whose daughters married Audubon’s sons)
  • Audubon spent his last years in senility and died at age 65 and buried in the Trinity Cemetery at 155th Street and Broadway in New York City
John James Audubon Quotes
  • I am as dull as a beetle. -- John James Audubon Quote
  • Up the river the view was indeed enchanting.; the undulating meadows sloped gently to the water's edge on either side, and the larks that sprang up before me, welcoming the sun's rise, animated my thoughts so much that I felt tears trickling down my cheeks as I gave thanks to the God who gave life to all these in a day. -- John James Audubon Quote
  • A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children. -- John James Audubon Quote
  • Look at that mallard as he floats on the lake; see his elevated head glittering with emerald green, his amber eyes glancing in the light! Even at this distance, he has marked you, and suspects that you bear no goodwill towards him, for he sees that you have a gun, and he has many a time been frightened by its report, or that of some other. The wary bird draws his feet under his body, springs upon then, opens his wings, and with loud quacks bids you farewell.-- John James Audubon Quote
  • The sun at length sank beneath the waterline that here formed the horizon; and we saw the birds making their first appearance. They were in small parties of two, three, or five, and by no menas shy. --- John James Audubon Quote
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