To Inspire, Transform & Heal

Linda Wiggen Kraft
Creativity for the Soul

Audubon – Bird Beauty, Bird Help, Gift

Audubon – Bird Beauty, Bird Help, Gift


Birds bring wings to our hearts with their song, movement and beauty.  The language of birds, which if understood by humans, has been told in ancient texts to reveal the wisdom of divinity.  Perhaps it is the divinity of their beauty that has inspired some of our most famous artists, especially John James Audubon.




The Audubon Society, whose purpose is bird conservation, was named after John James Audubon who in the 1800s painted 435 life-sized portraits of American birds along with paintings of mammals and other wildlife. He and his sons oversaw the meticulous engravings and lithographic prints created from his paintings.








I am fortunate to own some original hand colored lithographic Audubon prints from series created in the 1840s -1870s called the Octavo Prints.




These were part of a subscription series of prints meant to appeal to a wider audience with their smaller size and cost. The series were originally in book form of five art prints and written description of each bird. I had no idea these smaller prints existed before I entered into an art gallery on Michigan Ave. in Chicago a few years ago.




The beauty of the large Audubon prints drew me into the gallery.  The detail, coloring and composition of the large prints are awe-inspiring.  After looking at the large framed prints, I found a side room full of small 6 x10-ish sized prints unframed in mats.  The same detail, coloring and composition are there in the smaller prints. They are one eighth of the size of the original paintings. I found one I loved with white flowers (Swamp Honeysuckle Azalea Viscosa) and a black bird (Male Wood Pewee Flycatcher).






I had no idea what the cost was. I asked. When I found out the prints from the Octavo series started at $50, I knew I could afford some of these 1800s originals. The photos here are details from the three prints I have.














100 years ago, in 1918, a law was passed called the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).  It is one of the strongest environmental laws we have. It protects bird from illegal hunting, possessing and killing.  The law has always held industry liable for killing birds in their ways of doing business, perhaps not intentionally, but killing them.

This provision of the law has ended with the current White House administration no longer prosecuting the killing of birds by industries.  Oil companies kill up to 1 million birds a year with open oil pits. Covers over pits stop this, but now oil companies are not liable and the incentive to cover is not there. Oil spills have killed countless birds. Building of towers and other structures sometimes cause bird deaths.  Industry had an incentive to find ways to stop bird killing from happening when they do business, but no longer.

The Audubon Society has filled a lawsuit to stop this needless killing of birds.  It also has this message: “Urge your members of Congress and the Department of the Interior to uphold the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.”   Here is information about actions to take. 

As I was writing this blog today, I received an email from the National Audubon Society. It is offering free high resolution downloads of all 435 paintings by John James Audubon. Here is the link. Browse their beauty and print if you would like.

Here’s an example

audubon-download-white-eyed-vireo-blogThank you Audubon Society for sharing the divine beauty of birds and preserving their lives.









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