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Hudson River Birds: In Celebration of the Quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s Voyage

July 13, 2009 - October 11, 2009

The New-York Historical Society, which holds all 435 dazzling preparatory watercolors for John James Audubon’s The Birds of America (1827-38), continues to showcase a thematic selection of these masterpieces in an installation in the Luce Center, rotating them to ensure that these national treasures remain available to future generations.

Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus), Havell plate no. 199, ca.1833, John James Audubon, 1785-1851, Watercolor, graphite, pastel, black chalk, gouache, and black ink on paper, laid on card, Purchased for the Society by public subscription from Mrs. John J. Audubon, 1863.17.199

To thematically dovetail with the 400 year celebration of Henry Hudson's historic voyage of discovery, and the exhibition Dutch New York between East and West: The World of Margrieta van Varick at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery organized in collaboration with the New-York Historical Society, five of Audubon's watercolors of birds who perch or live along the Hudson River are displayed. One, the Hudsonian Godwit, is even named after a namesake of the explorer's and is found along the river during migration. Some species are found in New York City, where Audubon himself had an estate ("Minniesland" on the Hudson at West 155th Street), while others are more common to the mid- and upper-regions.

This niche includes one of the most customary denizens of the river, the Common Loon, as well as the Prothonotary Warbler—most easily viewed on boat or by canoe on the Hudson—the Saw-Whet Owl, and the Marsh Hawk. Flowing in a southerly direction for 315 miles, the Hudson River's final 152 miles are a tidal estuary that supports an impressive range of wildlife and birds―resident, breeding, and migratory species―which are a major focus of environmental efforts to restore the natural resources of this legendary waterway.

Creative: Tronvig Group