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Plate No. 53: Painted Bunting
John J. Audubon published his signature work, The Birds of America, between 1827 and 1836. The collection featured 435 plates, his depiction of the Painted Bunting can be found on plate number 53.
Below are experts containing Audubon’s observations of the Painted Bunting, taken from Ornithological Biographies, a book on bird habits that Audubon wrote to supplement his artwork.
“About the middle of April, the orange groves of the lower parts of Louisiana, and more especially those in the immediate vicinity of the City of New Orleans, are abundantly supplied with this beautiful little Sparrow.”
“Few vessels leave the port of New Orleans during the summer months, without taking some Painted finches, and through this means they are transported probably to all parts of Europe. I have seen them offered for sale in London and Paris, with the trifling difference of value on each individual, which converted the sixpence paid for it as New Orleans to the three guineas in London.”
“I have at the same time endeavoured to save you the trouble of reading a long description of the changes which take place in their plumage, from the time at which the young leave the nest until the fourth year following, when the male attain the full beauty of their brilliant livery… Long descriptions of this kind are only fit to be read to the blind. Colours speak for themselves.”
“The flight of the Pape, by which name the Creoles of Louisiana know this bird best, is short, although regular, and performed by a nearly constant motion of the wings, which is rendered necessary by their concave form.”
“It hops on the ground, moving forward with ease, now and then jetting out the tail a little, and, like a true Sparrow, picking up and carrying off on wing a grain of rice or a crumb of bread to some distance, where it may eat in more security.”
“It has a sprightly song, often repeated… When the bird is at liberty, this song is uttered from the top branches of an orange tree, or those of a common briar, and although not so sonorous as that of the Canary, or of its nearer relative, the Indigo Bunting, is not far from equaling either.”
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