Nineteenth-century naturalist, ornithologist, and artist John James Audubon lived the later years of his life in northern Manhattan, in what is now the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Harlem. Audubon is most known for his comprehensive book, The Birds of America, which was accompanied by beautiful, detailed illustrations of many of the birds. Today, visitors to Hamilton Heights will discover a series of amazing bird-themed murals that honor Audubon while bringing attention to the effects of climate change on North America’s bird populations. Known as the Audubon Mural Project, the murals are a collaborative effort of the National Audubon Society and Gitler &____ Gallery (yes, that’s the gallery’s actual name – there is an underlined blank space).
Here are some of my favorite murals from the Audubon Mural Project. (I’m not including too many photos – I don’t want to spoil things for those who want to explore the murals on their own!) This first mural, nestled into a window frame on the side of a building, is titled “John James Audubon contemplating the Cerulean Warbler.” The artist is Tom Sanford.
Other window spaces nearby frame these two murals by Jason Covert, the “Brown Pelicans.”
There is this striking Bald Eagle mural, painted on a metal gate, by Peter Daverington.
And there is this thought-provoking mural of a wild turkey, painted by artist N. Soala. Soala’s painting was inspired by author Roald Dahl’s short story, “The Magic Finger,” and its theme about humans’ effect on our planet.
This brightly colored mural is another favorite – a Tundra Swan painted by street artist Boy Kong.
There are also some much larger murals. My favorite is this incredible mural by an artist known as Lunar New Year. The main focus of the mural is a swallow-tailed kite, but there are 12 additional birds as well. (The National Audubon Society’s website states that these are the additional birds in the mural: “Scarlet Tanager, American Kestrel, Black-and-white Warbler, Tree Swallow, Northern Harrier, Magnolia Warbler, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Golden Eagle, White-throated Sparrow, Ring-billed Gull, Common Raven, and Baltimore Oriole.”)
How do you get to the murals? The National Audubon Society’s website has an excellent map showing the location of each mural, and the murals’ proximity to various subway stations. Depending on where (and when) you start your explorations, you can take the A, C, or 1 trains to the vicinity. The website also serves as an excellent guide for a tour of the murals, as it gives much more information about each one, including an explanation of how the birds are being affected by climate change and some remarks by each artist about their art.