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 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

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65 thoughts on “National Audubon Day

  1. 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. 🙂

    1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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!!)

          1. 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!

  4. 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…

  5. 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.

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