Birds of Greenwich

love-opera-victoria-baker“No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings,” said William Blake.

Since the dawn of time, people have admired the way birds can rise above our human limitations, exploring the skies in ways we can only imagine. Audubon Greenwich is a much-loved organization whose main mission is to motivate the community to preserve the surrounding nature and quite specifically to treasure the many species of birds that fly these local skies.

This September they are hosting many events, talks and lectures to educate Greenwich residents about these ethereal creatures we call birds. For more information log onto www.greenwich.audubon.org.

But who was the original Mr. Audubon and where did his love of nature originate?

Born in Haiti, James Audubon was the illegitimate son of a French Naval Captain, and a domestic servant. Audubon’s mother passed away when he was a baby and he was brought up by his father’s second mistress. In 1788, when he was four years old, he was sent to France where he and his stepsister Rose, were raised by their father’s legal wife Anne Moynet Audubon. The couple later formally adopted James in order to legalize his status.

While in France, James learned to play the flute and violin and learned to ride, fence, and dance. He was adventurous and loved exploring the woods. He watched the birds and collected things from nature and made rough drawings. Although James father wanted him to have a naval career, the boy soon realized he was prone to seasickness and that his inclinations lay elsewhere.

When Audubon was 18 years old, his father sent him to the United States to avoid being part of Napoleon’s army. While in Pennsylvania, he completely explored the nature of the place. He also spent a lot of time with his neighbor Lucy Bakewell exploring the areas around him and indulging in common interests.

Audubon studied American birds and he came up with the technique of bird banding, which helped him to study the same birds, longevity, migration and other patterns of life.

After trying his hand at business and failing, Audubon took up the painting of his beloved birds. He went to England where his compilations and drawings became very successful and established him as the romantic hero and American woodsman of British society.

The success of his Birds of America book brought him instant fame and wealth but he continued to explore his passion for learning about new species. He had a unique understanding of the nature around him, perhaps best encapsulated by the following words of his, “A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children.”

 

Victoria Baker, of Greenwich, is an opera singer. Winner of many prestigious competitions, she has performed and worked with distinguished artists all over the world (notably at Lincoln Center). Should you have any questions that deserve answers and may be in print please call 203-531-7499 or e-mail [email protected]

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