[CT Birds] Five Mystery Birds Among Audubon’s Paintings - The New York Times

Arthur Shippee ashippee at snet.net
Sat Aug 22 12:44:29 EDT 2015


Five Mystery Birds Among Audubon’s Paintings

Q. I recently saw a TV program that said several of the birds painted by John James Audubon in “The Birds of America” never existed. Could that be true?

A. Of the hundreds of birds drawn and painted by Audubon (1785-1851), five among the 435 life-size watercolor models for the original edition of his monumental work, “The Birds of America” (http://www.audubon.org/birds-of-america) (1827-1838), have puzzled ornithologists ( http://www.dvoc.org/CassiniaOnLine/Cassinia70/C70_22_24.pdf) to this day.

Roberta J. M. Olson, curator of drawings at the New-York Historical Society, which has all 435 of Audubon’s watercolor models, listed the five “mystery birds,” as they are often referred to, labeled by Audubon: Townsend’s Finch (identified in a later edition as Townsend’s Bunting), Cuvier’s Kinglet, Carbonated Swamp Warbler (http://www.sibleyguides.com/2008/03/audubons-mysteries-carbonated-swamp-warbler/), Small-headed Flycatcher and Blue Mountain Warbler.

These birds have never been positively identified, ....

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