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Audubon’s Top 5 Favorite Birds He Observed in Henderson

John James Audubon studied thousands of birds all across the nation. His most famous work Birds of America is widely known and is attributed for setting the bar for modern works and is often regarded as the greatest ornithological work in history. Many of us know that Audubon spent many years observing and scouting new species in Henderson, Kentucky. But what birds did he actually encounter here? According to his own notation about specific encounters, we think these were his top five favorite birds that he observed in Henderson, Kentucky.


Trumpeter Swan – Both majestic and elegant, Audubon kept one as a pet while residing in Henderson. “Trumpeter,” as his family called him, became accustomed to his family, eating from hand and chasing the kids and dogs around the garden. Many sorrows were felt when one morning it was realized that the gate had been left open and Trumpeter escaped.


Snow Goose – While residing in Henderson, Audubon, “never failed to watch the arrival of this species.” Thousands of snow geese still migrate through the Henderson Sloughs every winter. The Sauerheber Unit of the Henderson Sloughs Wildlife Area is a winter haven for about 15,000 geese and 20,000 ducks.


Cliff Swallow – Audubon embraced every opportunity of examining this bird. They would flock at sunset, throwing themselves into a vortex sort of frenzy with astonishing quickness.


White-Crowned Sparrow – Definitely a favorite of Audubon’s, he called it the, “handsomest bird of its kind,” after observing the bird in Henderson in 1817. In his opinion, “No other bird in the United States exceeds it in its beauty.”


Louisiana Water Thrush – Though many of us would credit a nightingale with having the most pleasant voice, Audubon would rather enjoy a tune from this bird. “Much and justly as the song of the nightingale is admired, I am inclined, after having often listened to it, to pronounce it in no degree superior to that of the Louisiana Water Thrush.”


Learn more about the works of John James Audubon by exploring the Downtown Audubon Sculpture Tour. Download this free Sculpture Tour Guide today to find out how you can interact and learn more about these well-known works!

Featured image of snow geese at the Henderson Sloughs during winter by Chuck Summers.