Audubon & The Audubon Challenge
I Just Made This Up
I am a huge fan of Audubon. Of the man, his art, and of the organizations and efforts that bear his name. I am also a huge fan of lists and trying to sort out the difficult ones. The various Audubon centers, chapters, and sanctuaries provide tons of satisfaction to me.
Let’s focus on who we’re celebrating here for a moment:
John James Audubon (1785-1851) was not the first person to attempt to paint and describe all the birds of America (Alexander Wilson has that distinction), but for half a century he was the young country’s dominant wildlife artist. His seminal Birds of America, a collection of 435 life-size prints, quickly eclipsed Wilson’s work and is still a standard against which 20th and 21st century bird artists, such as Roger Tory Peterson and David Sibley, are measured.
(Ol’ Roger Tory Peterson lived in Old Lyme, by the way, until his death in 1996.)
You can read more about Audubon here but I did want to leave you with one last tidbit:
Audubon was born in Saint Domingue (now Haiti), the illegitimate son of a French sea captain and plantation owner and his French mistress.
Today, Audubon is all over the country, promoting science and conservation and… bird stuff. Lots and lots of bird stuff. I can’t for the life of me sort out their organizational hierarchy, and I’ve given up. As of today (2016), across the US, there are twenty-two state programs, 41 Audubon centers, and nearly 500 local chapters. All working together as One Audubon.
Except… when you look at their US Map, Massachusetts has zero Audubon things. Except that they do have Audubon things. In fact, I hold in my hand Mass Audubon’s Passport to Nature which lists 21 Nature Centers and many more Audubon sanctuaries in that state. Weird.
(Yeah, I’m doing Mass Audubon’s Challenge.)
In Connecticut, we have three national Audubon Centers in Southbury, Sharon, and Greenwich plus a few national sanctuaries. Then we have a bunch of other Connecticut Audubon Centers and a ton more state Audubon sanctuaries. Which is great! Just confusing to the three of us on earth who think about these things.
I was prompted to write this page only because I became aware of Massachusetts Audubon’s passport program this summer – and I (of course) think it’s great. Completing it will be quite difficult for me, but since I don’t see any time limit, perhaps I’ll give it a whirl.
Which brings me to this: While Connecticut can’t have a similar program, since we only have a handful of Connecticut Audubon Centers which I suppose are somehow totally different from the three national Audubon Centers, it would still be a worthy pursuit for you to check them all out. Most have hiking trails in addition to the nature centers.
Heck, you should go to all the sanctuaries too. did I mention that there are local chapters with their own little sanctuaries as well? I didn’t? Well, yeah. It’s as crazy as being the son of a slave owner and his French mistress I suppose.
Anyway, I readily admit that compiling a list of all the Audubon “stuff” in Connecticut is absurd. But that’s what I do best.