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image for Audubon paints the cormorant in the Florida Keys and Key West

A Guide to John Audubon's visit to the Florida Keys 



 

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INDEX

  
AUDUBON


INDIAN KEY
1832


CORMORANT


ROSEATE
TERN


GRAY
KINGBIRD


REDDISH
EGRET


LOUISIANA
HERON


SANDY KEY


WHITE IBIS


WILLET

 
ZENAIDA
DOVE


WHITE
CROWNED
PIGEON


THE AUDUBON HOUSE IN
KEY WEST


AUDUBON'S
KEY WEST


KEY WEST AFTER
AUDUBON


ROSEATE
SPOONBILL


GREAT
WHITE
HERON


GREAT
BLUE
HERON


KEY WEST
DOVE


FLAMINGOS


BLUE-
HEADED
QUAIL DOVE


FRIGATE BIRD


BROWN
PELICAN


MANGROVE
CUCKOO


TORTUGAS


SOOTY
TERN


BLACK
HEADED GULL


BROWN
NODDY


CAYENNE
TERN


BROWN
BOOBY


SANDWICH
TERN


NIGHT
HERON


GREENSHANK


GREAT
MARBLED
GODWIT


MANGO
HUMMING-
BIRD


TROPIC
BIRD




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John Audubon visits several small Keys near Indian Key
and observes the Florida Cormorant

 

map of Florida Keys and Key West

April 26 - 29, 1832 - Audubon visits mangrove islands, Sandy Key, and Cape Sable.

In Audabon's Ornithological biography he write about several types of Cormorant : among them the Florida Cormorant (Double Crested Cormorant) which nestles on trees and the double crested cormorant which resides on the upper shelves of rugged and elevated rocks. He believes the Florida Cormorant to be a species in its own right, but this will be corrected by later day experts. He has to collect many specimens both male and female and of all ages to be accurate in his observations. He also collects eggs and the nest of each bird variety. He has no refrigeration to preserve the birds. Some varieties of birds and eggs his group eats for food during their explorations.


 

 

Cormorant

"On the 26th of April 1832, I and my party visited several small Keys, not many miles distant from the harbour in which our vessel lay [Indian Key]. Mr. Thruston had given us his beautiful barge, and accompanied us with his famous pilot, fisherman and hunter, Mr. Egan. The Keys were separated by narrow and tortuous channels, from the surface of the clear waters of which were reflected the dark mangroves, on the branches of which whole colonies of Cormorants had already built their nests, and were sitting on their eggs. There were many thousands of these birds, and every tree bore a greater or less number of their nests, some five or six, others as many as ten. The leaves, branches, and stems of the trees, were in a manner whitewashed with their dung . "
Audubon's painting of cormorant from Birds of America
Above image from Historical Museum of Southern Florida - Audubon images at the Historical Museum website were produced from prints of an original Elephant Folio belonging to the museum. collection. http://www.historical-museum.org/collect/audubon/audubon.htm) See Audubon House
 

Audubon painted the cormorant on Indian Key on April 26, 1832. which is reported to be his 47th birthday by some researchers. Other resources give his age on this date as 52.

Audubon believes the Florida Cormorant

". . . to be different from any hitherto described , and I have taken the liberty of giving it a name, while the figure and description will enable the scientific to form a distinct idea of it, and thus to confirm the species, or restore to it its previous appellation, should it have received one." . . .

He comments in the biography while at his writing desk in Scotland,

" . . . You must try to excuse these murders, which in truth might not have been nearly so numerous, had I have not thought of you quite as often while on the Florida Keys, with the burning sun over my head, and my body oozing at every pore, as I do know peaceably scatching my paper with an iron-pen, in one of the comfortable and quire cool houses of the most beautiful of all cities of old Scotland."

. . .

" Their flesh is dark, generally tough, and has a rank fishy taste, which can suit the palate only of refined epicures, some of whom I have heard pronounce it excellent. The Indians and the Negroes of the Floridas kill the young when nearly able to fly, and after skinning them, salt them for food. I have seen them offered for sale in the New Orleans markets, the poorer people there making gumbo soup of them."

 


 

Additional information about the cormorant may be found by following the link below to the Florida Breeding Bird Atlas. The Atlas, a collaborative effort of Audubon of Florida, the Florida Ornithological Society, and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission provides information of general status, habitat, and status of  breeding species in Florida.

 

http://wildflorida.org/bba/DCCO.htm

 

Additional information about the cormorant may be found by following this link to eNature.com

 

 


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