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image for Audubon paints the frigatebird in the Florida Keys and Key West

A Guide to John Audubon's visit to the Florida Keys 


 

 

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AUDUBON IN THE FLORIDA KEYS


 

 

INDEX

  
AUDUBON


INDIAN KEY
1832


CORMORANT


ROSEATE
TERN


GRAY
KINGBIRD


REDDISH
EGRET


LOUISIANA
HERON


SANDY KEY


WHITE IBIS


WILLET

 
ZENAIDA
DOVE


WHITE
CROWNED
PIGEON


THE AUDUBON HOUSE IN
KEY WEST


AUDUBON'S
KEY WEST


KEY WEST AFTER
AUDUBON


ROSEATE
SPOONBILL


GREAT
WHITE
HERON


GREAT
BLUE
HERON


KEY WEST
DOVE


FLAMINGOS


BLUE-
HEADED
QUAIL DOVE


FRIGATE BIRD


BROWN
PELICAN


MANGROVE
CUCKOO


TORTUGAS


SOOTY
TERN


BLACK
HEADED GULL


BROWN
NODDY


CAYENNE
TERN


BROWN
BOOBY


SANDWICH
TERN


NIGHT
HERON


GREENSHANK


GREAT
MARBLED
GODWIT


MANGO
HUMMING-
BIRD


TROPIC
BIRD




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John Auduban visits Key West

and paints the Magnificent Frigatebird

 

map of Florida Keys and Key West

May 1832 - painted in Key West - Magnificent Frigate Bird


 

Frigate Pelican
(Magnificent Frigatebird)

Audubon painting of Frigatebird from Birds of America

 Above image from Historical Museum of Southern Florida - Audubon images at the Historical Museum website were produced from prints of an original Elephant Folio belonging to the museum. http://www.historical-museum.org/collect/audubon/audubon.htm) See Audubon House  

 

Auduban writes of this painting done in Key West in May, 1832,

"I have given a figure of a very beautiful old male in spring plumage, which was selected from a great number of all ages. I have also represented the feet of an in dividual betrween two and three years old, on account of the richness of their colour at that age, whereas in adult males they are quite black."

 

 

Part of what Auduban writes in his Ornithological Biography, Volume. III, pages 495 to 501 appears below:

 

" . . . On approaching Indian Key I observed several of them, and as I proceeded farther south, their numberr rapidly increased; but on the Tortugas very few were observed. . . . "

 

" The Frigate Pelican is possessed of a power of flight which i conceive superior to that of perhaps any other bird. . . . The bird of which I speak comes from on up high with the volocity of a meteor, andon nearing the object of its pursuiit, which its keen eye has spied while fishing at a distance, . . . .

See him know! Yonder over the waves leaps the brilliant dolphin, as he pursues the flying-fishes, which he expects to seize the moment they drop into the water. The Frigate Bird, who has mar4ked them, closes his wings, dives toward them, and now ascending, holds one of the tinythings across his bill. Already fifty yards above the sea, he spies a porpoise in full chase, lauches toward the spot, and in passing seizesthe mullet that has escaped from its dreaded foe; . . ."

Sights like this you may see every day see, if you take ship and sail for the Florida Keys."

 

"When the morning light gladens the face of nature, . . . the frigate Bird, . . .sails from his roosting place. . . . Toward the bvast deep he moves, rising apace, and before any other bird views the bright orb emerging from the waters. Pure in the azure of the heavens, and rich the dep green of the smoot sea below; there is every prospect of the finest weather; and now the glad bird shakes his pinions; and far up into the air, far beyond the reach of man's unaided eye, he soars in his quiet but rapid flight. ... Would that I could accompany him!"

 

" . . . At various times I have ... sailed by mangrove keys where hundreds were roosted, and apparently sound asleep, when, on my firing a gun for the purpose of starting whatever birds might be there, they would all take to wing and sail as beautifully as during day, returning to the trees as the boats proceeded."

 

" . . . Their flesh is tough, dark, and as food, unfit for any other person than one in a state of starvation."

 

A portion of what Auduban writes on April 27 In a section Auduban wrote about the Florida Keys, Volume II, pages 312 - 316 he comments,

"It was the end of April when the nights were short, and the days therefore long. Anxious to turn every moment to account, we were on board Mr. Thurston's boat at three the next morning. Pursuing our way along the deep and tortuous channels that everywhere traverse the immense muddy soap-like flats that stretch from the outward Keys to the Main, we proceeded on our voyage of discovery. . . .

Coming under a Key on which a multitude of Frigate Pelicans (Frigatebird) had begun to form their nests, we shot a good number of them, and observed their habits.. . . The poor birds unaware of the range of our artillery, sailed calmly along, so that it was not difficult for "Long Tom" or rather for his owner, to furnish us with as many as we required. The day was spent in this manner, and towards night we returned, laden with booty, to the hospitable home of the pilot ( the Egan home on Indian Key).

 

 


Additional information about the frigatebird may be found by following the link below to the Florida Breeding Bird Atlas. The Atlas, a collaborative effort of Audubon of Florida, the Florida Ornithological Society, and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission provides information of general status, habitat, and status of  breeding species in Florida.

 http://wildflorida.org/bba/MAFR.htm

Additional information about the frigatebird may be found by following this link to eNature.com

 

 

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