Friday, June 5, 2009

Meet John James Audubon

Shane F.
Famous Ornithologist

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?


  1. Dear Shane F.,
    I enjoyed very much reading your biography of John James Audubon. It was especially interesting to me because I also researched and wrote a biography report about him when I was in elementary school. After writing the report, I went on to pursue earning a Girl Scout badge that had to do with bird - watching.
    This is still a pastime that I still enjoy today. Whenever I am hiking or camping, I take my binoculars and look for birds that I can identify. In my backyard, where I have many feeders and birdbaths, I often observe a variety of feathered visitors. I regularly see scrub jays, goldfinches, and white - crowned sparrows. Recently I have spotted a few hooded orioles, which I have learned nest in Southern California's palm trees.
    Thanks for sharing your informative report!
    Mrs. Ranney

  2. Hi Mrs Yollis's class!
    It sounds like you are learning so many fantastic things. We can't believe you got to see a skunk! That is not something we have ever seen of course!

    So it is not long until your school year ends! We have loved being your blogging friends too. We hope the students continue to look at our blog when they are in their new class! We also hope they have fun playing on the sites we have listed on our blog.

    Happy birthday for next week Mrs Yollis!!

    From your friends in 2KM

  3. Dear Shane F.,
    John James Audubon was quite persistent wasn't he? I'm glad he finally found a way to make his passion for birds and artistic talent into a living. You did a great job conveying his life story. I have an unusual bird sighting for you. In April we had four large green birds with long tails sitting on the telephone wire near our backyard. They were over a foot long from beak to tail. My subsequent internet research reveals that they were probably rose-ringed parakeets. It was very exciting to have something so beautiful right in my own backyard! Thanks for an interesting report. Mrs. Kumar


* * *
Getting feedback is important to our writers. Let us know what you liked or what you learned.

Steps to Comment:

1. Write your comment in the box below. Be sure that you have proofread it for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. Students should have a parent check it!

2. Choose an identity. (If you have a gmail account, use it. If not, choose name/url. You can leave the url blank if you do not have a blog.)

3. Click "Publish your Comment". You may preview your comment before publishing if you'd like.

Important: All comments MUST be approved by me.
:-) Mrs. Yollis