Many have heard about slow food, but fewer still about slow looking. This Wall Street Journal article from 2011 coined the term, referring to LSU's Hill Memorial Library and the way in which they presented their collection of John James Audubon's four-volume Birds of America (1827-38): slowing turning the pages for a rapt audience.
Closer to home and until May 19th, the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library will continue to exhibit Audubon's Aviary, including an online exhibition. As the WSJ article mentions, seeing the original watercolor folios is the most impressive, but the digital images are lovely too. The New-York Historical Society is also releasing a book of Audobon's Aviary, which NYPL has in circulation. NYPL's Digital Gallery has digitized many of his works, as well. NYPL's Manuscripts and Archives division has his correspondence, which our catalog states, "includes 2 letters from John James Audubon, 1838 and 1841; letters mostly to him in London, from American and British scientists and subscribers to his works; also a few letters addressed to his son, Victor, and his wife"; and, National Audubon Society Records, 1883-1990s.
The Audubon Society helps us think about the plight of these birds today, in their magazine and publications. NYPL's Valerie Wingfield wrote about the plight of the brown pelican through the works of Audubon in a post in 2010 and, more recently, Miranda J. McDermott composed a list of Wildlife Special Libraries. Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library has digitized 150,000 nature sounds and made them available online, including recordings of 75 percent of the bird species on the planet today.
Here are some more nonfiction birding books to tweet about:
Red Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park by Marie Winn
Club George by Bob Levy (St. Martin’s Press, 2006). Levy feeds (!) his way into the heart of a red wing blackbird in Central Park and keeps a detailed diary about it and other birds and mammals in the park. There’s an entire chapter dedicated to what binoculars to get for optimum bird-watching… need I say more?
What the Robin Knows by Jon Young looks at the ways in which bird communication is important, ways that science is only now beginning to understand.
Look Up! Bird Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate.
The Feathery Tribe: Robert Ridgway and the Modern Study of Birds by Daniel Lewis
"Daniel Lewis here explores the professionalization of ornithology through one of its key figures: Robert Ridgway, the Smithsonian Institution's first curator of birds and one of North America's most important natural scientists."