BIRDS OF AMERICA BY
JOHN JAMES AUDUBON (1785 - 1851) PLATE
171 - Engraved by R. HAVELL -
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BARN OWL - Strix flammea
Also previously known as "The White Owl"
The original watercolour appears to have been
rather rushed, as the right eye of the lower bird is incomplete.
This is carried over into the prints, even though the plate clearly
shows the outlines of the eye detail behind the etched shading. This
is probably because the etched shading over the eye was an
irreversible error that could only be overcome satisfactorily by
Now faced with a blotted-out eye it seems the
colourists were instructed to leave it "shut", even though this was
patently not the initial intention of either Audubon or Havell.
Whilst owls do shut one eye from time to time, they do not do this
when alert or excited, as the lower bird clearly is. So, with
apologies to the purists, we present the print as we believe was
originally intended, with a completed right eye for the lower bird.
If you require the original eye, wrong though it is, we are happy to
provide the print complete with this error, as seen below. It is
obvious where the iris and pupil were to be depicted, clearly
demonstrating that this was an accident.