Before Audubon: Alexander Wilsonís Birds of the United States

 Before Audubon: Alexander Wilsonís Birds of the United States
n 1808, Scottish-born poet and amateur naturalist Alexander Wilson (1766Ė1813) began publishing American Ornithology; or The Natural History of the Birds of the United States. Wilsonís impressive achievement inspired John James Audubon to publish his much better-known Birds of America (1827Ė38). Though Wilson had no background as an artist, he taught himself drawing and illustrated his nine volumes of careful observations of the birds of the northeastern U.S. with 76 hand-colored engraved and etched plates of 314 speciesó26 of which he was the first to describe.

Fourth in the Toledo Museum of Artís biennial exhibitions focused on bird-themed art, the exhibition coincides with local birding festival the Biggest Week in American Birding, which brings tens of thousands of birders to the area to observe the spring migration of songbirds. It will be the first time that the Toledo Museum of Artís first edition of Wilsonís pioneering multi-volume publication has been exhibited.