The birds shown in this painting are actually Collie's magpie jays. This exact
design was used for a regular-postage commemorative stamp in 1963.
Educated in France, John J. Audubon was an ornithologist noted for his drawings
and paintings of birds.
After first experimenting with migration and bird-banding from the family
estate near Philadelphia, he moved to art. He earned a living as a portrait
painter and for a short time taught drawing in New Orleans.
His Birds of America were printed between 1827 and 1838 by a Scottish
publisher. The text, Ornithological Biography, came out in five volumes between
1831 and 1839.
Scottish naturalist William MacGillivray collaborated with Audubon on the text
and provided much of the scientific data. By 1838, Audubon had completed more
than 400 paintings.