John James Audubon, born to French parents, emigrated to the United States in the 1800s and became North America’s foremost ornithologist, naturalist and chronicler of birds. His paintings and his life inspired the Audubon Society, dedicated to protecting waterbird populations. Here are some samples of his paintings.

Here’s part of an editorial tribute to Audubon in today’s Olympian newspaper, written by Jill Severn.

“Audubon’s contribution to our appreciation of birds and the natural world they inhabit is incalculable. But there are also vital lessons from his life history. Today, he is a hero, lionized for his pioneering role as an artist, ornithologist, and writer. But if he were to try to do today what he did as an 18-year-old – that is, to flee from war and immigrate to this country with a fake passport – he would be deported instantly. Had this country done then what we are doing now, Audubon might well have died young under Napoleon’s command, without ever painting a single bird.

“So today, as we celebrate Audubon day and watch the absolute freedom of birds in flight, we might consider foregoing the labels that confine people – draft-dodger, illegal alien, Muslim, and others not fit for print. And instead of worrying so much about the risk of letting people in, we might pause to wonder what we are losing by keeping people out.”

You can read the entire editorial here:

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