AUDUBON, John James (1785-1851)
Great Horned Owl
[Pl. 61] London: John J. Audubon. Hand-coloured engraving with aquatint and etching by R. Havell. Sheet size: 38 1/8 x 25 inches.
The classic great horned owl, famous for its ear-like feather tufts, deep hoot, and piercing yellow eyes.
The nocturnal great horned owl, named after the angular feather tufts on its head, can be found year-round throughout the US and Canada as well as across Central and South America. They can adapt to a large variety of habitats, making them one of the most common owls in North America, and consume a wide variety of prey, from frogs to falcons. John James Audubon was born in Les Cayes, Haiti on 26 April 1785. From 1788 to 1803 he lived in France until he was sent to the United States to manage an estate that his father had bought in Pennsylvania. He returned to France in 1805, but his fascination with the United States had taken root and he returned again in May 1806. He married Lucy Bakewell in 1808 and together they embarked on a difficult period financially that was only to be resolved, through Audubon's unshakable and justified belief in his own abilities, with the publication of his masterpiece in 1827-1838. "The Birds of America" is the single greatest ornithological work ever produced and is the realization of Audubon's dream of traveling throughout the United States recording, natural size, every native bird then known. The 435 double-elephant folio sized plates, printed by the Havells of London, depict some 1,065 different species, the majority drawn from specimens that Audubon himself had captured. This print is from the first edition.
Susanne M. Low, A Guide to Audubon's Birds of America, New Haven & New York: 2002, p.176.