Prarie Chicken, Tympanuchus cupido
Flora: tiger lily, Lilium michiganense
Print size: 26 1/4" x 39 1/4"; image size: 34 1/2" x 24 1/2"
Princeton Audubon Limited Edition - produced 1985
This painting was probably done in 1824, when Audubon was near the Great Lakes. It depicts two males fighting over a female and is one of the few works in which Audubon drew all three of the compositional elements: birds, plants, and landscape. Of the tiger lily Audubon wrote: "This beautiful plant,...grows in swamps and moist copses, in the Northern and Eastern States, as far as Virginia, as well as in the western prairies,...I was forced to reduce the stem, in order to introduce it into my drawing, the back ground of which is an attempt to represent our original western meadows."
The greater prairie chicken, found in such abundance by the artist when he lived in Kentucky, is now uncommon and seriously declining over much of its range. During the mating season the males in a given area gather in the early morning on courtship grounds, there to display before the females. As described by Dr. Frank M. Chapman: "The feather-tufts on either part of the neck are erected like horns, the tail raised and spread, the wings drooped, when the bird first rushes forward a few steps, pauses, inflates its orange-like air-sacs, and with a violent, jerking, muscular effort, produces the startling boom, which we may have heard when two miles distant." The booming note is much like one made by blowing across an empty bottle.
Princeton Audubon prints are direct-camera facsimile lithographs of the Robert Havell Jr. (1793-1878) engravings for The Birds of America (1827-38). Princeton's Double elephant Folio prints are issued in limited editions of 500 or 1500 prints. All are numbered and have a seal in the bottom margin to demonstrate their authenticity.
Printed on heavy Mohawk paper that is recommended by the Library of Congress for archives, the paper is specially toned to match the average paper color of the antique originals.