Wednesday, November 30, 2011


High-Res Audubon

"We are pleased to present our complete double elephant folio set of Audubon’s Birds of America, accompanied by his Ornithological Biography, through this Web site. Together these sets constitute an unprecedented online combination."
—The University of Pittsburgh scanned 435 plates of John James Audubon's famous pictures of birds, and generously made them available to the public. Are you more Le Petit CaporalRose-breasted Grosbeak, or Arctic Tern? The answer may surprise you! [Via]

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I worked at Hillman Library at Pitt where these babies were stored! Have you ever tried to shelve double elephant folios? Not fun. They're like half the length of my body (not that they let me touch the precious bird pictures, of course).


@thelibrarianne When I worked at a natural history museum, for a while we displayed our library's elephant folio in a climate controlled glass case. Every morning, the librarian, wearing gloves, would open the case and turn the page. It was like an advent calendar. Of birds.


@thelibrarianne I worked at the Frick Fine Arts Library! whut whut.


@thelibrarianne I worked at Hillman! That is why I went to library school.


AAHH! Pitt! Hillman! Frick! SIS!


Allegenac genac genac genac!

(CAS '04 over here)




Those owls look great. But horny.


@atipofthehat I'm surprised you spotted that.


@atipofthehat Know hoo else looks great? This little feller.


@sox ro-ro-rotate your owl... FOR SCIENCE:


One good tern deserves another.


@sox aaahhhhh! Soothing. I want to be petted like a teeny tiny blissed out owl. As opposed to rotated like the stoic owl above.


@AnthroK8 I know! But do her nails bother anyone else besides me?


@atipofthehat Pretty sure that owl doesn't give a hoot about your opinion, either way.


ARGH i want to download these now and put them on the tv in my living room like wallpaper but it's flash. Is there some kind of internet-magicking someone can do to make these into really hi-res jpegs?


@leon.saintjean UGH i'm wondering the same thing :<

fondue with cheddar

@leon.saintjean You could take screenshots and piece them together. A little trick I've used in the past to make screenshots web sites I designed is to set your screen resolution as high as possible, that way there's less reassembly, if any.

bouncy castle

Uh-oh. These are about to be all up on my tumblr dash what with the insane number of zoology/ecology nerds I follow but have never reblobbed UNTIL NOW.


Scarlet Ibis for life. I went legit birding for the first time a few weeks ago with some Audubon folks. They were super nice but I didn't like being on the beach in November.


What is everyone's very favorite bird?!
Mine is a toss-up between hummingbird and flamingo.

bouncy castle

@emilylouise marabou stork, then african ground hornbill, then ameraucauna chicken, then velociraptor, then harpy eagle, then hyacinth macaw, then the pygmy owl named Buddha I used to feed mealworms to when I volunteered at the zoo. BIRD NERD ALERT


@emilylouise Northern Cardinals because they're so cheeky. Then anything from the Corvidae family because they're super smart and like to talk. Then flamingos. Then all baby owls because they look like dust bunnies or balls of dryer lint.


@emilylouise Die California Uberwachtel (California Quail!) or...

THE LOON. Of course.


@emilylouise Quail, because I always used to see the families (with all the tiny quail following the big quail) run around when I was little and it always made me laugh and also they are delicious.


@Brunhilde Also, the call of the Quail sounds like they are saying "chi-CAAAH-go." They are very metropolitan, are quails.


@emilylouise Crows! They're so gleefully obnoxious. And smart! After that owls. Fluffy and clever, yes, but also silent badass hunters.


Aw man, everyone has way cooler answers than my original hummingbird & flamingo submission.
@maevemealone, can I plllllease have a black backed kingfisher for Christmas?! TOO CUTE.


@emilylouise Can I say that my favorite bird is my parents' parrot? Parrots are terribly persnickety and capricious and will basically either love you or hate you according to some ineffable internal logic, but damn that bird LOVES me. I have done absolutely nothing to deserve it either. Somehow it makes me feel so good about myself though? It's the closest to unconditional love I think I've ever experienced.


@emilylouise Albatross! They're so huge and gangly and goofy, but they have these eyes that bore into YOUR SOUL. Also blue-footed boobies (hehe, boobies). Also penguins. Also cardinals and robins and goldfinches. Also woodpeckers. I have kind of a thing for birds?


@tortietabbie PENGEYS. #teenylittleshrieks I love penguins. Love love love. They're so cute and waddly on land!


@pterodactgirl Magpies. They're smart and mean and their song is so pretty, in contrast to their evil cawing, and when their babies start making that awful grating noise, I know it's really summer.

Lorikeets or cockies come in a close second because they are MENTAL. When I was living with China I had David Attenborough's 'life of birds' on in the background and there was a shot of lorikeets in a tree making the most godawful noise. I burst into tears because it all of a sudden made me so homesick.


My grandparents used to run a printing company that did museum reproductions of Audubons. I have the flamingo hanging in my living room. It is fancier than anything else in there.


One time, at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the bird hallway was being reorganized or updated or something, and a couple of birds were just...laid out. Not posed or mounted or anything, just laying on the little shelf, all floppy and dead-looking. I was like 23 but it was still VERY traumatic.

Which is all a long way of saying OH MY GOD how is it possible to get such exquisite pictures from lifeless corpses?!


@tortietabbie You know something strange? I love the museum, especially that one. But a very jarring thing to do, which my school used to do all the time, was do a combined field trip of the zoo in the morning and the museum in the afternoon. Alive>>>Dead. Someone really should have thought about that and reversed it.


You guys! Have you read Katherine Govier's Creation? It is about Audubon traveling around collecting birds and posing them and and ships and having an affair with one of the women who helped him with the illustrations. (I read it like two years ago and those are the only details I recall. But it was good!)


@phlox I can never forget this Lewis and Clark exhibit at the Mutter Museum, and all they had displayed were these giant penile syringes because EVERYONE HAD STDS and they need months worth of STD treatments for this trip.


I'm the dead bird! oh, wait.

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