Tag Archives: Naturalist at Large

Spring Breakthrough: Nesting Bald Eagles

I’ve been watching this bald eagle for several days via Ustream webcam. Her nest is perched atop a tree at a fish hatchery in Decorah, Iowa. Over the past day one egg has pipped and hatched, and another is imminent. See a 24-hour video collage. Continue reading

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Come Sunday, We Shall Gather at the River

For several Sunday mornings now, I have walked down to the Little Miami River following a path in the woods that takes me past some mossy stones that once made up foundations for cabins inhabited by fugitive slaves. The spot isn’t far from the Mill where I used to live, which was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The woods are so thickly overgrown now with honeysuckle that I have to stop and search for the stones. In the quiet of the morning I hear a wood thrush singing even this late in August. Then I hum the tune to Duke Ellington’s masterpiece, “Come Sunday.”

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“The Jolly Flatboatmen in Port”

George Caleb Bingham. The Jolly Flatboatmen in Port. 1857. Oil on canvas. St. Louis Art Museum.

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Audubon’s “American Flamingo” & “Snowy Heron”

The modest little heath hen drawn for a bank note made me think of John James Audubon’s grander bird portraits of the American Flamingo and Snowy Heron (Snowy egret). Both images come from individual plates from Birds of America in the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The NGA identifies the artists as “Robert Havell after John James Audubon” and the media as “hand-colored etching and aquatint on Whatman paper plate.” The engravings were made in 1838 and 1835, respectively.

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Even John James Audubon Sold Clip Art

In 1824, John James Audubon wrote in his journal that he had drawn a heath hen for a Philadelphia engraver. The drawing was intended as incidental art for private bank notes – there was no national paper money at the time. Audubon’s drawing would be considered clip art today. It’s believed to be his first commercial illustration, although a printed example was found only recently by Audubon scholar Robert Peck, a curator at Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences, and numismatic historian Eric Newman.

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