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John James Audubon

John James Audubon by John Burroughs
By: (1837-1921)

Audubon’s life naturally divides itself into three periods: his youth, which was on the whole a gay and happy one, and which lasted till the time of his marriage at the age of twenty-eight; his business career which followed, lasting ten or more years, and consisting mainly in getting rid of the fortune his father had left him; and his career as an ornithologist which, though attended with great hardships and privations, brought him much happiness and, long before the end, substantial pecuniary rewards.

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Eric Eldred, Robert Connal, David Garcia, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team


John Burroughs

TO C. B.


The pioneer in American ornithology was Alexander Wilson, a Scotch weaver and poet, who emigrated to this country in 1794, and began the publication of his great work upon our birds in 1808. He figured and described three hundred and twenty species, fifty six of them new to science. His death occurred in 1813, before the publication of his work had been completed.

But the chief of American ornithologists was John James Audubon. Audubon did not begin where Wilson left off. He was also a pioneer, beginning his studies and drawings of the birds probably as early as Wilson did his, but he planned larger and lived longer. He spent the greater part of his long life in the pursuit of ornithology, and was of a more versatile, flexible, and artistic nature than was Wilson. He was collecting the material for his work at the same time that Wilson was collecting his, but he did not begin the publication of it till fourteen years after Wilson's death... Continue reading book >>

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