The Havell edition of John Audubon's legendary The Birds of America completely restored- as a blog here on tumblr, and an eBook for Kindle Fire and Nook Book.

18th December 2012

Photo with 173 notes

Detail of Plate 82 of The Birds of America by John Audubon, the Whip-poor-will.

Detail of Plate 82 of The Birds of America by John Audubon, the Whip-poor-will.

Tagged: AudubonThe Birds of AmericaWhip-poor-willbirdbirdingmothnatureworm

1st November 2012

Photo with 23 notes

Plate 82 of The Birds of America by John Audubon, the Whip-poor-will. If there was a contest for coolest looking brown bird all nightjars would be in contention. They appear to have tiny little beaks, but when they open their mouths they’re enormous. They also appear to (and actually have) feet that are ridiculously small for the size of the bird. Best of all, their camouflage, and ability to sit perfectly still, means you can pass within feet of them and never see it. It’s safe to say a lot more people have heard whip-poor-wills than seen them. 

Plate 82 of The Birds of America by John Audubon, the Whip-poor-will. If there was a contest for coolest looking brown bird all nightjars would be in contention. They appear to have tiny little beaks, but when they open their mouths they’re enormous. They also appear to (and actually have) feet that are ridiculously small for the size of the bird. Best of all, their camouflage, and ability to sit perfectly still, means you can pass within feet of them and never see it. It’s safe to say a lot more people have heard whip-poor-wills than seen them. 

Tagged: Plate 82AudubonThe Birds of AmericaWhip-poor-willWhippoorwillnightjarbirdbirdingnaturebutterfliesmoths

27th October 2012

Photo with 11 notes

Plate 80 of The Birds of America by John Audubon, the Prairie Titlark, now more commonly called the Water Pipit. This is an example of Audubon’s more formal composition style. 

Plate 80 of The Birds of America by John Audubon, the Prairie Titlark, now more commonly called the Water Pipit. This is an example of Audubon’s more formal composition style. 

Tagged: Plate 80AudubonThe Birds of AmericaPrairie TitlarkWater Pipittitlarkbirdnaturebirding

26th October 2012

Photo with 9 notes

Detail of Plate 69 of The Birds of America by John Audubon, the Bay-breasted Warbler. 

Detail of Plate 69 of The Birds of America by John Audubon, the Bay-breasted Warbler. 

Tagged: Plate 69AudubonBirds of AmericaBay-breasted Warblerbirdpaintingnature

18th October 2012

Photo with 20 notes

Detail of Plate 66 of The Birds of America by John Audubon, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, these two trying to figure out who gets the beetle snack.

Detail of Plate 66 of The Birds of America by John Audubon, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, these two trying to figure out who gets the beetle snack.

Tagged: AudubonBirds of AmericaIvory-billed WoodpeckerPlate 66beetlewoodpeckerendangered speciescritically endangeredpossibly extinctbird

9th October 2012

Photo with 29 notes

Detail of Plate 62 of The Birds of America, the extinct Passenger Pigeon. 

Detail of Plate 62 of The Birds of America, the extinct Passenger Pigeon

Tagged: AudubonBirds of AmericaPlate 62Passenger Pigeonpigeondovebirdwildlifenatureextinct

26th September 2012

Photo with 22 notes

Detail of Plate 58 of The Birds of America by John Audubon, the Hermit Thrush. This is the quintessential ’little brown bird’ that nobody’s interested in, but just look at it for a few seconds. If anyone ever questions Audubon’s genius this is the plate to show them- precisely because the bird isn’t showy or exotic, yet it still looks like it’s about to fly off the page. Like all Audubon’s paintings it was done as a scientific illustration, not a work of art, but as a scientific illustration it isn’t perfect. It suffers from what I call the ‘stuffed bird syndrome’ Audubon occasionally succumbed to. (Audubon often painted from stuffed specimens.) It’s too skinny- looking a bit like a preserved skin on an armature- Audubon carrying his realism a step too far. Living Hermit Thrushes tend to look a bit fuller. But even if it’s lacking somewhat as science, and ‘lacking’ is a subjective term used in hindsight; it was better than anything that had come before by a long way. It’s still a sublime painting. This is Audubon transcending even his own intentions in his art. 

Detail of Plate 58 of The Birds of America by John Audubon, the Hermit Thrush. This is the quintessential ’little brown bird’ that nobody’s interested in, but just look at it for a few seconds. If anyone ever questions Audubon’s genius this is the plate to show them- precisely because the bird isn’t showy or exotic, yet it still looks like it’s about to fly off the page. Like all Audubon’s paintings it was done as a scientific illustration, not a work of art, but as a scientific illustration it isn’t perfect. It suffers from what I call the ‘stuffed bird syndrome’ Audubon occasionally succumbed to. (Audubon often painted from stuffed specimens.) It’s too skinny- looking a bit like a preserved skin on an armature- Audubon carrying his realism a step too far. Living Hermit Thrushes tend to look a bit fuller. But even if it’s lacking somewhat as science, and ‘lacking’ is a subjective term used in hindsight; it was better than anything that had come before by a long way. It’s still a sublime painting. This is Audubon transcending even his own intentions in his art. 

Tagged: AudubonBirds of AmericaHermit ThrushPlate 58Theberriesbirdnaturepasserinesublimethrushwildlife

16th September 2012

Photo with 5 notes

Detail of Plate 53 of The Birds of America by John Audubon, the Painted Finch, now commonly called the Painted Bunting. 

Detail of Plate 53 of The Birds of America by John Audubon, the Painted Finch, now commonly called the Painted Bunting

Tagged: Plate 53birdAudubonBirds of AmericaThePainted Finchfinch

11th September 2012

Photo with 13 notes

Plate 60 of The Birds of America by John J. Audubon, the Carbonated Warbler, another of Audubon’s birds only he saw. 

Plate 60 of The Birds of America by John J. Audubon, the Carbonated Warbler, another of Audubon’s birds only he saw. 

Tagged: Plate 60Birds of AmericaThe Birds of AmericaAudubonCarbonated Warblerbirdmysterywildlife

7th August 2012

Photo with 10 notes

Detail of Plate 38 of The Birds of America, the Kentucky Warbler, by John James Audubon. 

Detail of Plate 38 of The Birds of America, the Kentucky Warbler, by John James Audubon. 

Tagged: Plate 38Kentucky Warbleraudubon'swarblerdetailwildlifebird