Feathers in Audubon`s Cap

“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.”– J.  J. Audubon

James Audubon, a self taught artist, naturalist and ornithologist is best known for his exceptional bird paintings, his ambition was to illustrate every single bird species of North America in their natural habitats. His collection of artworks were published as a bookThe Birds of America’ encompassing 435 life-sized bird prints, the book till date is regarded as one of the most significant documented studies of birds.

Here is a selection of some of the most stunning drawings of Audubon along with few of his remarkable quotes. The birds in his artworks are dexterously illustrated in a manner that they are creatively appealing for an artist, inspiring for a nature lover and informative with incredible visual clarity for an ornithologist.

Aphelocoma Jay’s illustrated by J. J. Audubon

“I never for a day gave up listening to the songs of our birds, or watching their peculiar habits, or delineating them in the best way I could.”–  James Audubon

The uniqueness of his painstakingly detailed artworks is the breathtaking realism of the anatomical features of the birds and a hint of their natural habitat in the background.

Falcorusticolu’s illustrated by J. J. Audubon

“The worse my drawings were, the more beautiful did the originals appear.”–  James Audubon

Audubons’s water color technique was unique and experimental, he defied the traditional method by mixing other medias like graphite, pastel, oil paint, chalk, ink, and collage to add texture and depth.

Great Horned Owl illustrated by J. J. Audubon

“As I grew up I was fervently desirous of becoming acquainted with Nature.”–  James Audubon

It is believed that Audubon’s financial and family life failed miserably due to his obsession with the feathered species. Allegedly his wife once complained- “I have a rival in every bird”. He went bankrupt due to his numerous failed business attempts that’s when he set off trekking across North America with a bold ambition of drawing every bird in North America.

Ruffed Grouse illustrated by J. J. Audubon

“During all these years there existed within me a tendency to follow Nature in her walks.”–  James Audubon

Audubon’s achievements were extraordinary, in his era there were no documented reference on birds, binoculars or camera available, for the sake of his work he managed to record and study the birds in their natural environment with his own innovative methods. He cataloged 25 new species and introduced bird-banding, a method used to study birds and their travels. He tied yarn to the legs of Eastern Phoebes, monitored their movements, and discovered that this species returns to nest in the same spot each year.

Brasilian Caracara Eagle illustrated by J. J. Audubon