Birds of a Feather . . .

Snowy_owlsCara/Andrea here, It’s been a gorgeous summer here in the New England (yes, a few hot, muggy days, but on the whole, it’s been the sort of weather that beckons us to put aside all the mundane things that keep us at our desks and take a break to enjoy the pleasures of Nature.)

My favorite time for a walk is early evening, and my favorite place is a nearby golf course that juts into Long Island Sound. The everchanging nuances of the sunlight on the water is lovely, Sunsetand the subtle rhythms of the landscape—the breeze ruffling through the grasses, the play of wildlife, the flight of the birds—reminds me of how important it is to take the time to appreciate the small moments of beauty that are easy to miss in the rush-rush pace of modern life.



Fox 2I really love the animals and birds I see on my walk. This summer, a family of foxes has taken up residence near the first hole—the four kits are adorable, and it’s delightful to watch them explore their world. As for birdlife, it’s amazingly rich and varied—egrets, great herons, loons, seagulls and all Hawksorts of smaller song and seabirds. And hawks. They soar overhead, so still and graceful riding the wind currents as they hunt. Recently I caught a huge one with my camera—what you can’t see is the muskrat clutched in his talons!

The Regency era, with its rising mood of Romanticism, also celebrated being in touch with Nature. Turner, BoningtonBonington, Constable—the list of artists who sought to capture the beauty of the world around them is  amazing. But one of the artists I think about a lot on my walks is John James Audubon, and his passion for depicting the birds and wildlife he saw in America.

John_James_Audubon_1826I find his art exquisite. But one of the other reasons I feel a camaraderie with him is that in many ways, he’s very much like us modern day authors. In addition to creating his marvelous art, he had to become a savvy self-promoter in order to publish and sell his work. Like us, he had to be imaginative in marketing—so in many ways he's one of the original "indie" authors!

It’s a great story, so I’m going to do something a little different today, and rather than retelling his story, I’m going to send you off to read a really fascinating article about the man and his art. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! (And for those of you in the UK, the Victoria Gallery in Liverpool, England has the largest collection of Audubon's work outside the Unites States.)

What about you—do you find it relaxing to walk outdoors and watch the birds and animals around you? Any particular favorites? Or funny stories? Please share!

70 thoughts on “Birds of a Feather . . .”

  1. What a sunset!
    It’s interesting that the article makes a point he accurately depicted the birds. Here at the National Library in Canberra you can see lots of images of native animals created by the early explorers, and they really had no idea…
    Our garden is full of parrots at this time of year. Rainbow lorikeets, and eastern and crimson rosellas (all as colourful as they sound!), and a gazillion enormous, screeching, deafening cockatoos.
    We have a real kangaroo plague around here (as you can see from our trip to my grandparents’ graves the other day!):
    http://bit.ly/1MXkJhR
    And surprisingly for Australia, we have quite a few foxes, but I mostly see them as roadkill, poor things…

    Reply
  2. What a sunset!
    It’s interesting that the article makes a point he accurately depicted the birds. Here at the National Library in Canberra you can see lots of images of native animals created by the early explorers, and they really had no idea…
    Our garden is full of parrots at this time of year. Rainbow lorikeets, and eastern and crimson rosellas (all as colourful as they sound!), and a gazillion enormous, screeching, deafening cockatoos.
    We have a real kangaroo plague around here (as you can see from our trip to my grandparents’ graves the other day!):
    http://bit.ly/1MXkJhR
    And surprisingly for Australia, we have quite a few foxes, but I mostly see them as roadkill, poor things…

    Reply
  3. What a sunset!
    It’s interesting that the article makes a point he accurately depicted the birds. Here at the National Library in Canberra you can see lots of images of native animals created by the early explorers, and they really had no idea…
    Our garden is full of parrots at this time of year. Rainbow lorikeets, and eastern and crimson rosellas (all as colourful as they sound!), and a gazillion enormous, screeching, deafening cockatoos.
    We have a real kangaroo plague around here (as you can see from our trip to my grandparents’ graves the other day!):
    http://bit.ly/1MXkJhR
    And surprisingly for Australia, we have quite a few foxes, but I mostly see them as roadkill, poor things…

    Reply
  4. What a sunset!
    It’s interesting that the article makes a point he accurately depicted the birds. Here at the National Library in Canberra you can see lots of images of native animals created by the early explorers, and they really had no idea…
    Our garden is full of parrots at this time of year. Rainbow lorikeets, and eastern and crimson rosellas (all as colourful as they sound!), and a gazillion enormous, screeching, deafening cockatoos.
    We have a real kangaroo plague around here (as you can see from our trip to my grandparents’ graves the other day!):
    http://bit.ly/1MXkJhR
    And surprisingly for Australia, we have quite a few foxes, but I mostly see them as roadkill, poor things…

    Reply
  5. What a sunset!
    It’s interesting that the article makes a point he accurately depicted the birds. Here at the National Library in Canberra you can see lots of images of native animals created by the early explorers, and they really had no idea…
    Our garden is full of parrots at this time of year. Rainbow lorikeets, and eastern and crimson rosellas (all as colourful as they sound!), and a gazillion enormous, screeching, deafening cockatoos.
    We have a real kangaroo plague around here (as you can see from our trip to my grandparents’ graves the other day!):
    http://bit.ly/1MXkJhR
    And surprisingly for Australia, we have quite a few foxes, but I mostly see them as roadkill, poor things…

    Reply
  6. When I was a child, we had a copy of Audubon’s Birds of America that I loved. I used to spend hours poring over it—and it was very useful for identifying the birds in our neighborhood. Those paintings of his are much better for identification that photographs ever are.

    Reply
  7. When I was a child, we had a copy of Audubon’s Birds of America that I loved. I used to spend hours poring over it—and it was very useful for identifying the birds in our neighborhood. Those paintings of his are much better for identification that photographs ever are.

    Reply
  8. When I was a child, we had a copy of Audubon’s Birds of America that I loved. I used to spend hours poring over it—and it was very useful for identifying the birds in our neighborhood. Those paintings of his are much better for identification that photographs ever are.

    Reply
  9. When I was a child, we had a copy of Audubon’s Birds of America that I loved. I used to spend hours poring over it—and it was very useful for identifying the birds in our neighborhood. Those paintings of his are much better for identification that photographs ever are.

    Reply
  10. When I was a child, we had a copy of Audubon’s Birds of America that I loved. I used to spend hours poring over it—and it was very useful for identifying the birds in our neighborhood. Those paintings of his are much better for identification that photographs ever are.

    Reply
  11. Cara/Andrea, what a lovely blog piece! My dh, a keen birder, has a treasured copy of “Bird of America.” We have a close friend who is a bird illustrator and it’s wonderful to talk to him about what is involved with his work. Such exquisite detail!

    Reply
  12. Cara/Andrea, what a lovely blog piece! My dh, a keen birder, has a treasured copy of “Bird of America.” We have a close friend who is a bird illustrator and it’s wonderful to talk to him about what is involved with his work. Such exquisite detail!

    Reply
  13. Cara/Andrea, what a lovely blog piece! My dh, a keen birder, has a treasured copy of “Bird of America.” We have a close friend who is a bird illustrator and it’s wonderful to talk to him about what is involved with his work. Such exquisite detail!

    Reply
  14. Cara/Andrea, what a lovely blog piece! My dh, a keen birder, has a treasured copy of “Bird of America.” We have a close friend who is a bird illustrator and it’s wonderful to talk to him about what is involved with his work. Such exquisite detail!

    Reply
  15. Cara/Andrea, what a lovely blog piece! My dh, a keen birder, has a treasured copy of “Bird of America.” We have a close friend who is a bird illustrator and it’s wonderful to talk to him about what is involved with his work. Such exquisite detail!

    Reply
  16. Sonya, I love that Audubon (like many of us historical authors) cared so passionately about getting the details right! I find his art exquisite—and inspiring. His love for Nature radiates through the art.
    Your birds sound so exotic and fascinating to me—and the kangaroos too! Visiting Australia is high on my To Do List, because I’d love to experience your beautiful country and wildlife.

    Reply
  17. Sonya, I love that Audubon (like many of us historical authors) cared so passionately about getting the details right! I find his art exquisite—and inspiring. His love for Nature radiates through the art.
    Your birds sound so exotic and fascinating to me—and the kangaroos too! Visiting Australia is high on my To Do List, because I’d love to experience your beautiful country and wildlife.

    Reply
  18. Sonya, I love that Audubon (like many of us historical authors) cared so passionately about getting the details right! I find his art exquisite—and inspiring. His love for Nature radiates through the art.
    Your birds sound so exotic and fascinating to me—and the kangaroos too! Visiting Australia is high on my To Do List, because I’d love to experience your beautiful country and wildlife.

    Reply
  19. Sonya, I love that Audubon (like many of us historical authors) cared so passionately about getting the details right! I find his art exquisite—and inspiring. His love for Nature radiates through the art.
    Your birds sound so exotic and fascinating to me—and the kangaroos too! Visiting Australia is high on my To Do List, because I’d love to experience your beautiful country and wildlife.

    Reply
  20. Sonya, I love that Audubon (like many of us historical authors) cared so passionately about getting the details right! I find his art exquisite—and inspiring. His love for Nature radiates through the art.
    Your birds sound so exotic and fascinating to me—and the kangaroos too! Visiting Australia is high on my To Do List, because I’d love to experience your beautiful country and wildlife.

    Reply
  21. Nicola, I am in awe of the detail and passion that radiates from Audubon’s work. My mother, an accomplished artist, became fascinated by birds in later life, and did a lot of watercolor paintings of them. The details of feathers and subtle coloring really is amazing.
    I have a really beautiful large edition of Birds in America put out by Abrams Press. And I’ve been lucky enough to see the original edition on display at Yale many times. It’s just awesome in every sense of the word.

    Reply
  22. Nicola, I am in awe of the detail and passion that radiates from Audubon’s work. My mother, an accomplished artist, became fascinated by birds in later life, and did a lot of watercolor paintings of them. The details of feathers and subtle coloring really is amazing.
    I have a really beautiful large edition of Birds in America put out by Abrams Press. And I’ve been lucky enough to see the original edition on display at Yale many times. It’s just awesome in every sense of the word.

    Reply
  23. Nicola, I am in awe of the detail and passion that radiates from Audubon’s work. My mother, an accomplished artist, became fascinated by birds in later life, and did a lot of watercolor paintings of them. The details of feathers and subtle coloring really is amazing.
    I have a really beautiful large edition of Birds in America put out by Abrams Press. And I’ve been lucky enough to see the original edition on display at Yale many times. It’s just awesome in every sense of the word.

    Reply
  24. Nicola, I am in awe of the detail and passion that radiates from Audubon’s work. My mother, an accomplished artist, became fascinated by birds in later life, and did a lot of watercolor paintings of them. The details of feathers and subtle coloring really is amazing.
    I have a really beautiful large edition of Birds in America put out by Abrams Press. And I’ve been lucky enough to see the original edition on display at Yale many times. It’s just awesome in every sense of the word.

    Reply
  25. Nicola, I am in awe of the detail and passion that radiates from Audubon’s work. My mother, an accomplished artist, became fascinated by birds in later life, and did a lot of watercolor paintings of them. The details of feathers and subtle coloring really is amazing.
    I have a really beautiful large edition of Birds in America put out by Abrams Press. And I’ve been lucky enough to see the original edition on display at Yale many times. It’s just awesome in every sense of the word.

    Reply
  26. We live in a wooded area of the Twin Cities that overlooks the Minnesota River, just before it meets the Mississippi. While the other side of the river contains the Mall of America and the big airport, the bank itself belongs to a federal wildlife refuge. So we do get all kinds of wildlife, particularly birds: bald eagles, hawks, cranes, herons. My husband and I love to watch the birds. I think our best story is about the cardinal, Junior, found by my husband just outside our apartment door. He lay there, stunned, probably from hitting the door. Ed put on gloves and carried him up to our balcony. Junior stayed there for about an hour and then flew away. The next summer, on the 4th of July, he brought his new little ones to check out the balcony! “This is a safe place,” we believe he told them.

    Reply
  27. We live in a wooded area of the Twin Cities that overlooks the Minnesota River, just before it meets the Mississippi. While the other side of the river contains the Mall of America and the big airport, the bank itself belongs to a federal wildlife refuge. So we do get all kinds of wildlife, particularly birds: bald eagles, hawks, cranes, herons. My husband and I love to watch the birds. I think our best story is about the cardinal, Junior, found by my husband just outside our apartment door. He lay there, stunned, probably from hitting the door. Ed put on gloves and carried him up to our balcony. Junior stayed there for about an hour and then flew away. The next summer, on the 4th of July, he brought his new little ones to check out the balcony! “This is a safe place,” we believe he told them.

    Reply
  28. We live in a wooded area of the Twin Cities that overlooks the Minnesota River, just before it meets the Mississippi. While the other side of the river contains the Mall of America and the big airport, the bank itself belongs to a federal wildlife refuge. So we do get all kinds of wildlife, particularly birds: bald eagles, hawks, cranes, herons. My husband and I love to watch the birds. I think our best story is about the cardinal, Junior, found by my husband just outside our apartment door. He lay there, stunned, probably from hitting the door. Ed put on gloves and carried him up to our balcony. Junior stayed there for about an hour and then flew away. The next summer, on the 4th of July, he brought his new little ones to check out the balcony! “This is a safe place,” we believe he told them.

    Reply
  29. We live in a wooded area of the Twin Cities that overlooks the Minnesota River, just before it meets the Mississippi. While the other side of the river contains the Mall of America and the big airport, the bank itself belongs to a federal wildlife refuge. So we do get all kinds of wildlife, particularly birds: bald eagles, hawks, cranes, herons. My husband and I love to watch the birds. I think our best story is about the cardinal, Junior, found by my husband just outside our apartment door. He lay there, stunned, probably from hitting the door. Ed put on gloves and carried him up to our balcony. Junior stayed there for about an hour and then flew away. The next summer, on the 4th of July, he brought his new little ones to check out the balcony! “This is a safe place,” we believe he told them.

    Reply
  30. We live in a wooded area of the Twin Cities that overlooks the Minnesota River, just before it meets the Mississippi. While the other side of the river contains the Mall of America and the big airport, the bank itself belongs to a federal wildlife refuge. So we do get all kinds of wildlife, particularly birds: bald eagles, hawks, cranes, herons. My husband and I love to watch the birds. I think our best story is about the cardinal, Junior, found by my husband just outside our apartment door. He lay there, stunned, probably from hitting the door. Ed put on gloves and carried him up to our balcony. Junior stayed there for about an hour and then flew away. The next summer, on the 4th of July, he brought his new little ones to check out the balcony! “This is a safe place,” we believe he told them.

    Reply
  31. I own a rather poor hardbound 6×9 copy of Audobon’s book. As books go, it’s a rather poor specimen! But I bought what I could afford at the time. And my children and I examined the book again and again. It would have been wonderful to live close to Yale and thus be able to see the original work, but even our not-so-great copy gave us awe and inspiration.
    Both St. Lous (largest metropolitan area in Missouri) — where I grew up — and Columbia (fifth largest city in Missouri) — where I live now have lots of trees and wild areas, so common birds abound in both cities. In Columbia, wild geese shelter during their fly throughs. We have a large hawk population, and the bald eagle population is increasing. Unofficial bird watching is very easy to do here and very satisfying.

    Reply
  32. I own a rather poor hardbound 6×9 copy of Audobon’s book. As books go, it’s a rather poor specimen! But I bought what I could afford at the time. And my children and I examined the book again and again. It would have been wonderful to live close to Yale and thus be able to see the original work, but even our not-so-great copy gave us awe and inspiration.
    Both St. Lous (largest metropolitan area in Missouri) — where I grew up — and Columbia (fifth largest city in Missouri) — where I live now have lots of trees and wild areas, so common birds abound in both cities. In Columbia, wild geese shelter during their fly throughs. We have a large hawk population, and the bald eagle population is increasing. Unofficial bird watching is very easy to do here and very satisfying.

    Reply
  33. I own a rather poor hardbound 6×9 copy of Audobon’s book. As books go, it’s a rather poor specimen! But I bought what I could afford at the time. And my children and I examined the book again and again. It would have been wonderful to live close to Yale and thus be able to see the original work, but even our not-so-great copy gave us awe and inspiration.
    Both St. Lous (largest metropolitan area in Missouri) — where I grew up — and Columbia (fifth largest city in Missouri) — where I live now have lots of trees and wild areas, so common birds abound in both cities. In Columbia, wild geese shelter during their fly throughs. We have a large hawk population, and the bald eagle population is increasing. Unofficial bird watching is very easy to do here and very satisfying.

    Reply
  34. I own a rather poor hardbound 6×9 copy of Audobon’s book. As books go, it’s a rather poor specimen! But I bought what I could afford at the time. And my children and I examined the book again and again. It would have been wonderful to live close to Yale and thus be able to see the original work, but even our not-so-great copy gave us awe and inspiration.
    Both St. Lous (largest metropolitan area in Missouri) — where I grew up — and Columbia (fifth largest city in Missouri) — where I live now have lots of trees and wild areas, so common birds abound in both cities. In Columbia, wild geese shelter during their fly throughs. We have a large hawk population, and the bald eagle population is increasing. Unofficial bird watching is very easy to do here and very satisfying.

    Reply
  35. I own a rather poor hardbound 6×9 copy of Audobon’s book. As books go, it’s a rather poor specimen! But I bought what I could afford at the time. And my children and I examined the book again and again. It would have been wonderful to live close to Yale and thus be able to see the original work, but even our not-so-great copy gave us awe and inspiration.
    Both St. Lous (largest metropolitan area in Missouri) — where I grew up — and Columbia (fifth largest city in Missouri) — where I live now have lots of trees and wild areas, so common birds abound in both cities. In Columbia, wild geese shelter during their fly throughs. We have a large hawk population, and the bald eagle population is increasing. Unofficial bird watching is very easy to do here and very satisfying.

    Reply
  36. Sue, I think any version of Audubon’s Birds can convey the magic of his artistry. He just had an amazing gift for depicting their essence. Seeing the originals, which are wonderfully large, is breathtaking, but not necessary to appreciate the work.
    I really like hawks (for a while was fascinated with falconry) and wish we had bald eagles around where I live. Not yet, though they’ve been reappearing higher up in Connecticut. But ospreys have made a great comeback. Lots of nests now along the L.I. Sound.

    Reply
  37. Sue, I think any version of Audubon’s Birds can convey the magic of his artistry. He just had an amazing gift for depicting their essence. Seeing the originals, which are wonderfully large, is breathtaking, but not necessary to appreciate the work.
    I really like hawks (for a while was fascinated with falconry) and wish we had bald eagles around where I live. Not yet, though they’ve been reappearing higher up in Connecticut. But ospreys have made a great comeback. Lots of nests now along the L.I. Sound.

    Reply
  38. Sue, I think any version of Audubon’s Birds can convey the magic of his artistry. He just had an amazing gift for depicting their essence. Seeing the originals, which are wonderfully large, is breathtaking, but not necessary to appreciate the work.
    I really like hawks (for a while was fascinated with falconry) and wish we had bald eagles around where I live. Not yet, though they’ve been reappearing higher up in Connecticut. But ospreys have made a great comeback. Lots of nests now along the L.I. Sound.

    Reply
  39. Sue, I think any version of Audubon’s Birds can convey the magic of his artistry. He just had an amazing gift for depicting their essence. Seeing the originals, which are wonderfully large, is breathtaking, but not necessary to appreciate the work.
    I really like hawks (for a while was fascinated with falconry) and wish we had bald eagles around where I live. Not yet, though they’ve been reappearing higher up in Connecticut. But ospreys have made a great comeback. Lots of nests now along the L.I. Sound.

    Reply
  40. Sue, I think any version of Audubon’s Birds can convey the magic of his artistry. He just had an amazing gift for depicting their essence. Seeing the originals, which are wonderfully large, is breathtaking, but not necessary to appreciate the work.
    I really like hawks (for a while was fascinated with falconry) and wish we had bald eagles around where I live. Not yet, though they’ve been reappearing higher up in Connecticut. But ospreys have made a great comeback. Lots of nests now along the L.I. Sound.

    Reply
  41. Great photo of the kangaroos in the cemetery, Sonya. Yes, the early portrayals of much of the Australian plant and wildlife were often so wrong — it’s as if they were wanting them to more like British creatures.
    As for the foxes — they were imported by some lunatic near Geelong who bemoaned the fact that there was nothing to hunt. With no native predators the foxes multiplied and spread, and decimated much of the native fauna as a result.

    Reply
  42. Great photo of the kangaroos in the cemetery, Sonya. Yes, the early portrayals of much of the Australian plant and wildlife were often so wrong — it’s as if they were wanting them to more like British creatures.
    As for the foxes — they were imported by some lunatic near Geelong who bemoaned the fact that there was nothing to hunt. With no native predators the foxes multiplied and spread, and decimated much of the native fauna as a result.

    Reply
  43. Great photo of the kangaroos in the cemetery, Sonya. Yes, the early portrayals of much of the Australian plant and wildlife were often so wrong — it’s as if they were wanting them to more like British creatures.
    As for the foxes — they were imported by some lunatic near Geelong who bemoaned the fact that there was nothing to hunt. With no native predators the foxes multiplied and spread, and decimated much of the native fauna as a result.

    Reply
  44. Great photo of the kangaroos in the cemetery, Sonya. Yes, the early portrayals of much of the Australian plant and wildlife were often so wrong — it’s as if they were wanting them to more like British creatures.
    As for the foxes — they were imported by some lunatic near Geelong who bemoaned the fact that there was nothing to hunt. With no native predators the foxes multiplied and spread, and decimated much of the native fauna as a result.

    Reply
  45. Great photo of the kangaroos in the cemetery, Sonya. Yes, the early portrayals of much of the Australian plant and wildlife were often so wrong — it’s as if they were wanting them to more like British creatures.
    As for the foxes — they were imported by some lunatic near Geelong who bemoaned the fact that there was nothing to hunt. With no native predators the foxes multiplied and spread, and decimated much of the native fauna as a result.

    Reply
  46. There have been a couple crows roosting in the sickle pear tree outside my bedroom window – it’s been fun watching their antics. I’ve also got a groundhog that comes out on the back lawn and deer wander thru every so often.

    Reply
  47. There have been a couple crows roosting in the sickle pear tree outside my bedroom window – it’s been fun watching their antics. I’ve also got a groundhog that comes out on the back lawn and deer wander thru every so often.

    Reply
  48. There have been a couple crows roosting in the sickle pear tree outside my bedroom window – it’s been fun watching their antics. I’ve also got a groundhog that comes out on the back lawn and deer wander thru every so often.

    Reply
  49. There have been a couple crows roosting in the sickle pear tree outside my bedroom window – it’s been fun watching their antics. I’ve also got a groundhog that comes out on the back lawn and deer wander thru every so often.

    Reply
  50. There have been a couple crows roosting in the sickle pear tree outside my bedroom window – it’s been fun watching their antics. I’ve also got a groundhog that comes out on the back lawn and deer wander thru every so often.

    Reply
  51. Diane, I find crows hugely entertaining! They seem to have a sense of humor, if that makes any sense—they seem to enjoy clowning around.
    Groundhogs—well, they are not the nicest critters. I’ve heard they have a nasty disposition on top of eating gardens. So I much prefer the crows!

    Reply
  52. Diane, I find crows hugely entertaining! They seem to have a sense of humor, if that makes any sense—they seem to enjoy clowning around.
    Groundhogs—well, they are not the nicest critters. I’ve heard they have a nasty disposition on top of eating gardens. So I much prefer the crows!

    Reply
  53. Diane, I find crows hugely entertaining! They seem to have a sense of humor, if that makes any sense—they seem to enjoy clowning around.
    Groundhogs—well, they are not the nicest critters. I’ve heard they have a nasty disposition on top of eating gardens. So I much prefer the crows!

    Reply
  54. Diane, I find crows hugely entertaining! They seem to have a sense of humor, if that makes any sense—they seem to enjoy clowning around.
    Groundhogs—well, they are not the nicest critters. I’ve heard they have a nasty disposition on top of eating gardens. So I much prefer the crows!

    Reply
  55. Diane, I find crows hugely entertaining! They seem to have a sense of humor, if that makes any sense—they seem to enjoy clowning around.
    Groundhogs—well, they are not the nicest critters. I’ve heard they have a nasty disposition on top of eating gardens. So I much prefer the crows!

    Reply

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