Audubon and changing times

America’s greatest naturalist was John James Audubon, 1785-1851.  A first printing of his book, Birds of America (, will fetch $8 million in auction.  His life-sized studies of the bird species of America are captivating.

Today we revere him as an icon of conservation.

In the first 8 days of his 1820-1821 Mississippi river trip he records killing:

86 partridges

28 grey squirrels

11 wild turkeys

7 pheasants

6 teal

5 small grebes

4 tall tail godwits

2 doves

2 hermit thrushes

2 wood grouse

1 American buzzard

1 autumnal warbler

1 bared owl

1 barn owl

1 Blackburnian warbler

1 blue-winged teal

1 Carolina cuckoo

1 common crow

1 fish hawk

1 great Carolina wren

1 hare

1 mallard

1 robin

1 turkey buzzard

1 woodcock

In his defence, he ate some.

In 100 years’ time, or perhaps sooner, people will read the works of great environmentalists and campaigners against climate change in the early 21st century.  People will not comprehend their use of aeroplanes or consumption of meat.

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