CarolinaParakeetAudubon

EXCERPT FROM THE ORIGINAL WATERCOLOR PAINTINGS
OF JOHN JAMES AUDUBON FOR THE BIRDS OF AMERICA

Done in Louisiana about 1825, this exceptional painting was inscribed at lower right, "The upper Specimen was shot near Bayou Sarah and appeared so uncommon having 14 Tail feathers all 7 sizes distinct and firmly affixed in 14 different recepticals that I drew it more to verify one of thos astonishing fits of Nature than any thing else - it was a female – The Green headed (a young bird) is also singular although not so uncommon a Variety as the above one - Louisiana -

December - J. J. Audubon." "Doubtless," Audubon wrote in his text, "the reader will say, while looking at the seven figures of Parakeets represented in the plate, that I spared not my labor. I never do, so anxious am I to promote his pleasure. These birds are represented feeding on the plant commonly names the Cocklebur (cocklebur, Xanthium strumarium) .... Nature seems to have implanted in these birds a propensity to destroy, in consequence of which they cut to atoms pieces of wood, books, and, in short, everything that comes in their way .... The woods are the habitation best fitted for them, and there the richness of their plumage, their beautiful mode of flight, and even their screams, afford welcome intimation that our darkest forests and most sequestered swamps are not destitute of charms."

Even in Audubon's day, as he reported, this exquisite bird was a declining species. Slaughtered by man, caught and caged as pets, they were soon exterminated. In September of 1914, the last surviving Carolina parakeet died in the Cincinnati Zoological Gardens.


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