From Birds of America.
The eat goes on.*
* I’d planned to leak these slowly over the coming months but the last installment had a big surge of interest recently so I’ll keep up with the galleries. In case it wasn’t clear these details are all taken from Audubon’s Birds of America. Previous collections here, here, here and here.
A nation of hungry mouths.
Third in an infinite series…
More morsels from Audubon’s Birds of America.
Might do one more set…. or two.
We behold the face of nature bright with gladness, we often see superabundance of food; we do not see, or we forget, that the birds which are idly singing round us mostly live on insects or seeds, and are thus constantly destroying life; or we forget how largely these songsters, or their eggs, or their nestlings, are destroyed by birds and beasts of prey; we do not always bear in mind, that though food may be now superabundant, it is not so at all seasons of each recurring year.
John James Audubon - Bird of Washington.
My favorite birds in Birds of America are definitely the ones that don’t exist.
See also: Decimating Birds Episode V.
The University of Pittsburgh has posted a fantastic new set of scans of their original elephant folio set of Audubon’s Birds of America.
“In 1818, while living in Kentucky, Audubon was visited by a wild-eyed fellow naturalist named Constantine Samuel Rafinesque, who had come to see Audubon’s drawings. He was courteously given a bed for the night. The household was scarcely asleep when great crashes were heard in Rafinesque’s quarters, and Audubon rushed in to find his naked guest bouncing around the room, swinging Audubon’s favorite violin at a number of flying bats, which he believed to be a new species. Either to avenge his battered violin or simply to play a practical joke, Audubon later described to Rafinesque a dozen imaginary fish and even provided drawings. Rafinesque copied everything down in his notebook, later published the discoveries. Audubon never gave his joke away, and scholars puzzled over the phony fish for years before deciding they were a hoax.”
- LIFE, Jan 29, 1951
I’m personally skeptical of both the “revenge” and “practical joke” hypotheses, leaning more toward the whole, Audubon was a known compulsive fabricator, thing.