National Audubon Day

National Audubon Day - doodlewash and watercolor illustration of little blue heron

Today is in honor of John James Audubon (1785-1851) as he was born on this very day a whopping 231 years ago in Les Cayes, in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). He arrived in America in 1803, and for nearly half a century he was the dominant wildlife artist in the young little country. His seminal Birds of America, is a stunning collection of 453 life-sized prints and is considered to be one of the finest ornithological works ever completed. In the early 1900’s, the National Audubon Society was officially incorporated and named in his honor. Its mission is “to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.”

For my part, I decided to doodlewash a Little Blue Heron because I saw it was listed as a priority bird on Audubon’s site. Surprisingly, it’s thought to be a close relative to the Snowy Egret. When it’s young it looks very similar but then molts to a dark slate-blue plummage when it grows up. Males put on quite a display with various alluring postures and vocalizations to attract females. If a mate is found, the male will gather nesting material for the female, but she has to do most of the actual work of constructing the nest. As ever, not terribly dissimilar to some human households.

John James Audubon was an avid observer of nature because he loved being a part of it. Many of us who love to sketch the natural world feel the same. He once remarked, “During all these years there existed within me a tendency to follow Nature in her walks.” Later in life, Audubon made some excursions out West where he hoped to record the Western species he had missed, but unfortunately his health began to fail. He died in his family home in on January 27, 1851 but left a legacy behind that few would ever achieve. This day reminds us to appreciate nature and everything she has to offer. As Audubon said, “A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.”

Join me any and all days you like during April by celebrating a National or International Day with a doodlewash! Tag your image #doodlewashaday and I’ll feature everyone who played along on doodlewash.com at the end of the month! 


About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Gamboge, Cobalt Teal, Cobalt Blue, and Neutral Tint. Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Opera Rose. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
64 Comments
  1. Jessica Seacrest 1 year ago

    Love the colors of this wonderful bird Charlie!

  2. […] via National Audubon Day — Doodlewash […]

  3. Teresa Robeson 1 year ago

    Beautiful doodlewash of the Little Blue! I find herons (all the different species) hard to draw because they’re such a weird shape…but I love them…just like I love yours! 💙

    Like I told Kerfe, you might want to check out a biography of Alexander Wilson. He is known as the Father of American Ornithology and by all accounts of their peers, produced far superior art than Audubon. 🙂

    • Cathe 1 year ago

      Thanks for introducing us to Alexander Wilson Teresa, he captured such beauty in birds!

      • Teresa Robeson 1 year ago

        Thanks, Cathe! My son has got me to join his crusade to make Wilson as well-known as Audubon because he was the original bird-man! 😀

    • Author

      Thanks Teresa! 💕😃 They totally have a weird shape…lol…realized that half way through the drawing. Yikes! Tough! And I almost mentioned Wilson in this article…hehe… He deserved to get a day as well, but it was Audubon day so I left him out so John James wouldn’t be so jealous. 😉hehe

  4. Jodi 1 year ago

    beautiful blues and purples! just lovely!

  5. Curious to the Max 1 year ago

    iridescent colors!!! – fantabulous.

  6. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 1 year ago

    Beautiful bird, gorgeously painted, and I really enjoyed the info about Audubon.

  7. Susan Feniak 1 year ago

    Impressive Heron Charlie. Love the colors you chose. 🙂

    • Author

      Thanks Susan!! 💕😃 They’re harder to draw than I realized! But any chance to play with purples is worth it! Hehe

  8. YesterdayAfter 1 year ago

    This is wonderful Charlie! I love the colors and the look great job as always! 😉

  9. Jill Kuhn 1 year ago

    The colors are so vibrant! Wonderful Blue Heron, Charlie! 💕🎨👍 Enjoyed your history lesson as well. 😊

    • Author

      Thanks Jill! 💕😃 Glad you liked both! I had zero personal blue heron stories, so history lessons are my go to! Lol I wish I did though…these birds would be cool to see in the wild! 😃

  10. Kari 1 year ago

    What a beautiful bird. I love that blue! What a wonderful tribute to Audubon!

    • Author

      Thanks Kari!! 💕😃 It was fun to try a heron for a change. Not that I’ve drawn a million birds yet or anything, but more than other animals at least! 😊Hehe

  11. Sharon Mann 1 year ago

    The blue heron is one of my favorites. Interesting information about Audobon. Thanks Charlie.

  12. debiriley 1 year ago

    gorgeous Charlie, well done and great info!!

  13. Plover Lock 1 year ago

    That quote is so very true. It makes me sad sometimes when people don’t realize this a lot more. I love Audubon’s illustrations, while they don’t always look in very natural poses, but they are gorgeous nonetheless.

    • Author

      Yeah…I loved that quote but it doesn’t seem to be a code everyone loves by. Totally agree on Audubon…lovely stuff, but the poses are a bit strange. He had an interesting way of seeing!

  14. M. L. Kappa 1 year ago

    Lovely heron, Charlie. I’m a great fan of Audubon – and now, thanks to Teresa, I’ve discovered Alexander Wilson!

    • Author

      Thanks so much!! 💕😃And yes!! Alexander Wilson’s work is awesome! I just couldn’t upstage poor Audubon on his day though! 😊hehe

  15. What a stunning heron, the colours are beautiful. I had never heard of Audubon, but have taken a peek at the website, such beautiful works, thanks for the info.

  16. Catherine Johnson 1 year ago

    I love blue herons and Egrets. Yours is fabulous! I’ll go check out the art of Audubon.

    • Author

      Awesome!! They’re so cool birds…love their look! So glad you liked my doodlewashed one! Thanks Catherine! 💕😃

  17. Cathe 1 year ago

    What a wonderful post. I love the beauty and shimmer of your Blue Heron.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Cathe!! 💕😃 I actually attempted to let a layer dry for once. Didn’t quite wait long enough, but better. Hehe…I have the patience of a 5 year old boy. 😊

  18. memadtwo 1 year ago

    Great quote Charlie. I’m continually amazed at the sheer number of his paintings. And the Audubon Society is a good working tribute to him. As is your lovely heron! (K)

    • Author

      Thanks Kerfe! 💕😃Yeah…He was so prolific it was astounding!! I can’t imagine producing that much fully finished work!

  19. Wonderful job with a gorgeous subject, Charlie! He glistens off the page! I love his little patch of ground and his eye just keeps drawing me in. Beautiful details. Well done, my Bro! <3

    • Author

      Awww thanks Sis!! 💜💜😉 So thrilled you liked it!! I had wished I could have made him bigger to see the face better, but he barely fit in my little sketchbook! Hehe… Herons are such pretty birds!!

      • Aren’t they gorgeous? Love the blues and purples in this one too! I was wondering how you managed to make him fit. He looks great!

      • Author

        Thanks! I actually sketched it too big and then had to redraw the contour smaller so he didn’t look like the Heron That Ate The Sketchbook! Yikes! lol

      • lol! 😀

  20. Beautiful heron :-). Gorgeous colours! And thanks for the interesting information too!

  21. Tom Merriman 1 year ago

    Nice colours, Charlie. I love this type of bird.

  22. Jacob 1 year ago

    Yes, to echo everyone else: those colours are marvellous, a very pretty heron! And a worthy celebration; it’s been a while so it’s great to hop onto Google and be reacquainted with his works (all of them!!)

    • Author

      Thanks Jacob! 😃Somebody didn’t get much sleep then last night if they googled and looked through over 453 birds!! Hehe… Audubon makes me feel like a slacker. Lol I can only manage the one doodlewash a day. 😊

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        Haha – maybe not 453, but I was quite taken aback by the volume of work. You are no slacker! You’ll be at 454 before you know it!

      • Author

        Hehe… at one a day, it’s going to take me awhile! And my first month was kind of rough. Can’t believe it will be a year in July!

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        Party time come July, then! And it’s a year for me on 1st August, though I’m shamefully lagging behind in the early hundreds when it comes to posts. You’ll surely be up in that four hundred region by the end of the year if you carry on as you are!

      • Author

        Yay to a year! That’s awesome! We need to have a blog anniversary party. Bring the zonkey!! 🎉

  23. Teri C 1 year ago

    Beautiful painting Charlie.
    Been MIA traveling back to Wisconsin. Went thru MO rather than KS. Good decision with all the storms. We had no problems.

  24. jmnowak 1 year ago

    I’d be an Audubon, if I could. Who knows, Charlie, you could become the watercolour version, the way you’re going with this doodlewashing business! 😀
    PS: Lovely heron, lovely swish new blog theme…very nice and professional. And with a typeface that us blind people can read…

    • Author

      Thanks Janina!! 💕😃Glad you liked this! hehe… and happy you like the design tweaks to the site! Yeah.. I can handle small fonts either! lol 😊

  25. corinnebekker 1 year ago

    What a wonderful bird, Charlie! I love it’s color especially. I’m finally finding time to look at the weekly email about your blog again – and this bird really pulled me in and made me want to come and see it on the blog. Wow.

    • Author

      Aww thanks so much Corinne! 😃💕So happy you liked this one! It was fun to try a crane-type bird shape. First time I’ve done one like this.

      • corinnebekker 1 year ago

        Well it is very successful – love the different shades of blue turning to violet even.

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