Do you know who drew and illustrated books about birds? If you guessed John James Audubon, you are correct. He was born on April 26, 1785, in Santo Domingo. When he was four, he moved from Santo Domingo to France. His real name was Fougere Audubon. His father was a French sea captain and a merchant. When he was about eight he discovered a love for birds, so he started painting pictures of them. Before he was 14, he already had hundreds of bird drawings. Sometimes he burned them if he didn’t think they were good enough. He was not a good student and often didn’t go to school. In fact, when he was 14 his father sent him away to study, but he hated it there. A year later, he went back to his home in France. When he was 17, he went to Paris to study art. He was so unhappy he left. When he left Paris, he changed his name to Jean Jacques Audubon.
In 1803, he was sent to the United States to make something of himself at his father farm called Mill Grove. He changed his name to John James Audubon, which was an English word for his French name. He never stopped painting pictures of birds.
In 1804, when he was 19 years old, he met a men named William Bakewell and fell in love with his daughter Lucy who he later married. Before he could marry her, he needed to get a job and make money. About a year later, he opened up a store to make money. Years later he got an idea to make a book about birds. He failed at making money and even went to prison because he could not pay his bills. He realized he needed to paint all the time. After many years, he finally got part of his book made, and he called it The Birds of America. Soon, his pictures were in the famous Academy of Natural Sciences and the Royal Institute in Liverpool. He was even made a Fellow of the Royal Society, witch meant he was one of the greatest scientists of the world. Lucy and John moved to England and he wrote more books.
In 1838, The Birds of America book was finally finished. It had 435 pages and 1,065 pictures of birds. He moved back to the United States in 1839. He wrote more books about birds and other animals. He had two sons and he died in 1851, when he was 65 years old. A society was named after him called the Audubon Society. They helped conserve and restore things in nature, especially birds and other wildlife. If he did not draw birds, make books about birds, and discover birds they may not be so popular today.
Here is a link to the local San Fernando Valley Audubon Society.
What birds do you see in your backyard?