Why Did the Turkey Cross the Road?

To prove he wasn’t a chicken!

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! I am hosting my first Thanksgiving tomorrow with a whopping three additional people bringing our grand total to 8 turkey-eaters. Needless to say, my stress level is at a minimum. In fact, it’s been fun pulling out the dishes and platters and cooking utensils that never get used on non-holiday days!

In honor of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share a famous turkey paintings, but all Google wants to pull up are famous Turkish artists. Maybe we’ll explore them next Thanksgiving. In the meantime, it seems appropriate to highlight John James: bird painter and turkey enthusiast.

Though John James sounds like a super American name, he was actually born in France as Jean Rabin. His dad was a ship commander and fought for America in the American Revolution (thank you!) Little Jean lived in the Caribbean while a bunch of political stuff happened, then went back to France with his dad. When he was eighteen, he set off for the U.S. and legally changed his name to John James Audubon. Yes, that Audubon!

Here is what you need to know about John James: He. Loved. Birds. Loved them. Lots of artists love art and then might become obsessed with a subject (see Monet, lily pads or Van Gogh, sunflowers), but Audubon loved birds first and simply wanted a more accurate representation of them to exist, so he began painting them. He is the first known bander in North America and discovered 25 new species of birds. His home was a virtual museum of eggs, and animals he taxidermized himself. Then, at age 41, he began publishing The Birds of America, in which he drew 435 birds.

Friends, I give you the image he chose to be the first in his giant book…. Wild Turkey:

I’d also like to lay to rest a rumor that James John Audubon was arrested. He actually had no part in “fowl play.” He did, however, kick his smoking habit “cold turkey.” Really though, he captured many unique birds. How do you catch a unique bird? Unique up on it, of course!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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