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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... naturalist painter of birds, John James Audubon.


CURWOOD: Naturalist John James Audubon was born 213 years ago this month in what is now Haiti. The son of a French naval captain and his mistress, Mr. Audubon came to America when he was 18, but a few ill-conceived business deals soon landed him in debtor's prison. Sitting in his cell, he vowed to devote himself to painting wildlife, but he couldn't make a living as an artist, so to support his family he taught dancing, fencing, even violin. During a 12-year span Audubon created 435 prints depicting more than 1,000 birds. Unable to drum up interest for the product in the States, Audubon headed to England, where his Birds of America was eventually published. The book remains a classic of both natural history and art. It also inspired generations of bird watchers and led, in 1905, to the creation of the National Audubon Society, which today boasts a half million members. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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