Ornithological Biography, pp.85-90. 3½ pages, folio. " />
5 December 2006
AUDUBON, John James. Autograph manuscript, "Great Footed Hawk," published in vol. I Ornithological Biography, pp.85-90. 3½ pages, folio.
"LOOK AT THESE TWO PIRATES": AUDUBON DESCRIBES A GREAT BIRD OF PREY
The present is one of Audubon's lengthier ornithological descriptions, comprising approximately 1,500 words, some 19 corrections and 7 lines of marginalia. With regards to the naming of the birds, Audubon says of the French and Spanish names: "This mode of naming these rapacious birds is doubtless natural enough, but it displays little knowledge of the characteristic manner of the species. No bird can better be brought forth in contradiction of such names... Look at these two pirates eating a "dejeuné à la fourchette", as it were, congratulating each other on the peculiar flavour of the food in their grasp... The great Footed Hawk or Peregrine Falcon (it is in point of fact but one in the same bird) is now frequently to be met with in the United States--but within my remembrance was a very scarce species in America. I can well recollect the time when if I shot one or two of these birds during a whole winter I thought myself fortunate... which of late years I have killed two a day and perhaps a dozen in the course of a winter."
"The great footed hawk visits Louisiana during the winter months only, for although I have observed it mating then, it generally disappears a few days after... Many persons believe that this hawk and some others also never drink any other fluid than the blood of the prey it catches, that is an error--I have seen them alight on sand bars, walk to the edge of them and sink their bills nearly up to their eyes in the water and drink in a continued manner as the Pigeons are known to do..."
Provenance: Mrs. Grace Phillips Johnson (1877-1972, her sale Christie's New York, 26 May 1977, lot 94 [part]).
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