California parakeets
(Carolina Parrots)
by John James Audubon


Hand-colored aquatint / engraving on paper, sheet: 97.2 x 64.2 cm

This busy branch of birds delights for its vivaciousness and its patterns. To give the individuals life, the artist presents them in action, feeding on a typical meal, some spreading their wings in a variety of contortions. Just as a skillful portraitist employs the trick of engaging viewers by having human subjects make eye contact with the audience, Audubon has several birds' eyes turned toward the spectator and one bird facing outward.
     The now extinct Carolina Parakeet was in Audubon's time the only common parrot species in the United States.