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Item #4370 White Heron [Great Egret] from The Birds of America. John James AUDUBON.

AUDUBON, John James (1785-1851)

White Heron [Great Egret] from The Birds of America

[Pl. CCCLXXXVI] London: 1837. Hand-colored etching with aquatint and line-engraving by Robert Havell, Jr., after Audubon. Paper watermarked "J. Whatman. 1837." Sheet: (25 1/2 x 38 1/8 inches).

The White Heron from the first edition of Audubon's "The Birds of America."

Audubon rightly calls the White Heron "truly elegant." He pictures a male in full breeding plumage in a habitat typical of the marshy Gulf Coast. The Heron emerges from the thick reed beds, stepping carefully between the mud chimneys of the crayfish, neck bent low to investigate a horned toad. Audubon wrote about witnessing the courtship display of this magnificent bird: "I had the pleasure of witnessing this sort of tournament or dress-ball from a place of concealment not more than a hundred yards distant. The males, in strutting round the females, swelled their throats, as Commorants do at times, emitted gurgling sounds, and raised their long plumes almost erect, paced majestically before the fair ones of their choice. These meetings took place about ten o'clock in the morning, or after they had all enjoyed a good breakfast, and continued until nearly three in the afternoon, when they flew off in search of food." [Audubon] The White Heron suffered greatly because of its plumage: "Prior to the nesting season this large, elegant white heron develops a bridal train of long white plumes." [Peterson] The demand for these plumes led it to the brink of extinction, but through the efforts of the National Audubon Society, it has made a spirited come-back, and has returned to all of its previous range. "Today the great egret nests north of the Mississippi Valley to Minnesota. There is a postbreeding dispersal during the summer months to the Great Lakes and southern Canada." [Peterson]

Audubon, The Birds of America VI, pp.132-33. Low, A Guide to Audubon's Birds of America, p.195. Peterson, Audubon's Birds of America 34.

Item #4370

Price: $48,000.00

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