Audubon "Birds of America"

Great Blue Heron
Print 19.5 x 27 inches


Great Blue Heron – Plate Reference #211
The great blue heron stands four feet tall and has a wing span that approaches six feet. “Their contours and movements,” Audubon wrote, “are always graceful, if not elegant…the tread of the tall bird…no one hears, so carefully does he place his foot on the moist ground, cautiously suspending it for a while at each step of his progress. Now his golden eye glances over the surrounding objects, in surveying which he takes advantage of the full stretch of his graceful neck. Satisfied that no danger is near, he lays his head on his shoulders, allows the feathers of his breast to droop, and patiently awaits the approach of his finned prey. You might imagine what you see to be a statue of a bird, so motionless is it. But now, he moves; he has taken a silent step, and with great care he advances; slowly does he raise his head from his shoulders, and now, what a sudden start! His formidable bill has transfixed a perch…” Audubon drew this adult heron in Louisiana in 1821 and later reworked his drawing. He painted over the foreground with oil, probably in London, just before it was engraved by Havell in 1834.

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