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

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


 

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AUDUBON


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1832


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KEY WEST AFTER
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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


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MARBLED
GODWIT


MANGO
HUMMING-
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John Audubon paints the Key West Pigeon
aka (Key West Quail Dove)

 

map of Key West and Florida Keys

May 4, 1832 - Arrives Key West , Audubon spends the next 17 days in Key West and surrounding waters with trip to the Dry Tortugas


 

Key West Quail Dove (Key West Pigeon)

Audubon painting of Key West Quail Dove or Pigeon 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. http://www.historical-museum.org/collect/audubon/audubon.htm) See Audubon House  

 

TO BUY
Click Here for information on a 17" x 24" Key West Dove print

 

 "The plants represented in this plate grew on Key West, in sheltered situations. That with the purple flower is a Convolvulus, the other an Ipomaea. The blossoms are partially closed at night, and although ornamental, are destitute of odour."

 A Convolvulvus as well as an Ipomaea is a trailing, twining, or viney plant with showy leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers such as a morning glory. The purple flower drawn by Audubon's assistant Lehman in the painting of the Key West Pigeon is the railroad vine and the white flower is the rubber vine.

 

May 4, 1832 - Audubon arrives at Key West in the evening of May 4th, and paints the Key West Quail Dove [ Key West Pigeon] around May 6, 1832.

 

 

Below are some of his comments from Volume II, pages 382-386 of Audubon's Ornithological Biography.

"It was in Key West that I first saw this beautiful bird. The Marion was brought to anchor close to, and nearly opposite, the little town of the same name, some time after the setting of the sun. The few flickering lights I saw fixed the size of the place in my imagination. In a trice, the kind captain and I were seated in his gig, and I felt the forward motion of the light bark as if actually on a wing, so well timed was the pulling of the brave tars who were taking us to the shore. In this place I formed acquaintance with Major Glassel of the United states Artillery, and his family, of Dr. Benjamin Strobel, and several other persons to whom I must ever feel grateful for the kind attention which they paid to me and my assistants, as well as for the alacrity with which they aided me in procuring rare specimens not only of birds, but also of shells and plants, most of which were unknown to me." . . . .

"Major Glassel sent one of his serjeants with me to search the whole island ..."

On May 6, 1832 while exploring the island of Key West with Audubon, Sergeant Sykes shot a Key West Pigeon. Audubon writes,

"Ah, how I looked at this lovely bird! I handled it, turned it, examined its feathers and form, its bill, its legs and claws, weighed it by estimate, and after a while formed a winding sheet for it of a piece of paper."

"As we sat near the shore gazing on the curious light pea-green colour of the sea, I unfolded my prize, and as I now quietly observed the brilliantly changing metallic hues of its plumage, I could not refrain from exclaiming - "But who will draw it?" for the obvious difficulties of copying nature struck me a powerfully as they ever had done, . . . . "

I have taken upon myself to name this species the Key West Pigeon, and offer it as a tribute to the generous inhabitants of that island, who favored me with their friendship. . . . "

Toward the middle of July they become sufficiently abundant at Key west, to enable sportsmen to shoot as many as a score in a day; for, as soon as the young are able to follow their parents, they frequently resort to the roads to dust themselves, and are then easily approached. Dr. Strobel told me he had procured more than a dozen of these birds in the course of a morning, and assured me that they were excellent eating"

During the time of Audubon's visit, the Key West Dove or pigeon migrated between Cuba and the Florida Keys. Seeing a Key West Pigeon today in the Florida Keys is a rarity.

 
 

 


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