Today we celebrated the birthday of famed ornithologist John James Audubon (1785–1851), with a public page turning of the first volume of his masterpiece The Birds of America (published 1827–1838). Enjoy this short video of the event, featuring Academy librarian Alexandria Capone turning to the plate of the Cowpen Bird (now known as Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater), and myself talking a bit about that species, Audubon’s legacy, and how today Academy scientists continue to study the evolutionary relationships of birds, but now we are armed with DNA sequencing technologies and digital computers.
A fun thing about turning the page is that the species depicted on the following page is a surprise! For more on the history of Audubon’s The Birds of America, see my recent paper The Heart of Audubon, published in Common-place: the journal of early American life 16(1).
Thanks to the Academy staff for making and publishing the video on the Academy of Natural Sciences facebook page.