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oLMOST eVuREWuN iZ FuMiLYuR WiX xu NasuNuL oDUBoN SOSIeTE, u BeNeVOLeNT ORGaNIZAsuN xaT PROMOTS BuRDWoCing aND WILDLIF KoNSuRVAsuN. SuRPRIZingLE, oLMOST NO WuN iZ FuMiLYuR WiX xu MaN FOR HUM xiS ORGaNIZAsuN iZ NAMD. WuN MIT XinK xaT HE WuZ u KIND aND JeNTL MaN WiX u SPesuL uFeKsuN FOR BuRDZ. NuXing KwD BE FuRxuR FRuM xu TRUX. iN REaLiTE, JoN JAMZ oDUBoN WuZ u RUXLeS KiLuR HU WuZ RESPoNSiBL FOR xu BRUTuL SLAingZ uV HuNDReDZ, MABE EVeN XQZaNDZ, uV iNOSeNT BuRDZ. Almost everyone is familiar with the National Audubon Society, a benevolent organization that promotes birdwatching and wildlife conservation. Surprisingly, almost no one is familiar with the man for whom this organization is named. One might think that he was a kind and gentle man with a special affection for birds. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, John James Audubon was a ruthless killer who was responsible for the brutal slayings of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of innocent birds.
iN HiZ BwK, BuRDZ uV uMeRiKu, oDUBoN sAMLeSLE REKQNTeD HORiFiK aKTS uV KRULTE COMiTeD uGeNST eVRE KiND uV BuRD iMaJiNuBL. HE OPeNLE aDMiTeD TU TORCuRing aND KiLing eVREXing FRuM SPeROZ aND WwDPeKuRZ TU SWoNZ aND EGLZ. EVeN xu NasuNuL eMBLeM uV xu YUNITeD STATS, xu BoLD EGL, KwD NoT eSKAP oDUBoNZ VisuS KiLing SPREZ. In his book, Birds of America, Audubon shamelessly recounted horrific acts of cruelty committed against every kind of bird imaginable. He openly admitted to torturing and killing everything from sparrows and woodpeckers to swans and eagles. Even the national emblem of the United States, the bald eagle, could not escape Audubon's vicious killing sprees.
SuM MIT oRGYU xaT oDUBoN KiLD FOR u LeJiTiMuT REZuN: TU KOLeKT SPeSiMeNZ FOR HiZ PANTingZ. HQeVuR, oDUBoN KuMPLAND xaT MeNE BuRDZ CANJ KuLuR aFTuR DeX, MAKing xeM PwR SuBJeKTS FOR PANTing. iT iZ MOR LIKLE xaT oDUBoN KiLD FOR PLezuR aND u PuRVuRS FELing uV PQuR. HE REPETeDLE BRaGD uBQT xu NuMBuR uV BuRDZ HE WuZ ABL TU sUT iN u DA. SuMTIMZ HiZ ORJEZ uV KoRNuJ WwD KLAM DuZeNZ uV LIVZ iN u SinGL MORNing. iN WuN iNSTuNS, u MuxuR BuRD TRID TU KeRE HuR YunG TU SAFTE aFTuR oDUBoN HaD soT aT xeM. oDUBoN KLAMD TU FEL KuMPasuN FOR xeM, BuT HiZ XuRST FOR BLuD WuZ SO GRAT xaT HE KiLD BOX xu MuxuR aND HuR HeLPLeS CiK. Some might argue that Audubon killed for a legitimate reason: to collect specimens for his paintings. However, Audubon complained that many birds change color after death, making them poor subjects for painting. It is more likely that Audubon killed for pleasure and a perverse feeling of power. He repeatedly bragged about the number of birds he was able to shoot in a day. Sometimes his orgies of carnage would claim dozens of lives in a single morning. In one instance, a mother bird tried to carry her young to safety after Audubon had shot at them. Audubon claimed to feel compassion for them, but his thirst for blood was so great that he killed both the mother and her helpless chick.
WeN oDUBoNZ ViKTiMZ WuR uNFORCUNuT ENuF TU SuRVIV, HE WwD TORMeNT xeM WiX DIuBoLiKuL eKSPeRiMeNTS aND MeTiKYULuSLE REKORD xu DETALZ uV xeR SuFuRing. WUNDeD BuRDZ WuR RUTENLE PRoDeD WiX STiKS TU SE HQ xA WwD REaKT. BuRDZ HU TRID TU eSKAP xiS TORCuR WuR LABuLD aZ "KQuRDLE" iN HiZ NOTS. KaPCuRD BuRDZ WuR oFeN SToRVD TU SE HQ Long xA KwD LiV WiXQT FUD. SuMTIMZ BuRDZ uV DiFuReNT SPESEZ WwD BE KuNFIND TUGexuR iN u SMoL KAJ uNTiL xA BEGaN TU KiL WuN uNuxuR. oDUBoN TwK SuC DELIT iN xEZ uBYUSeZ xaT HE iZ PRoBuBLE BeST DESKRIBD aZ xu JOSeF MenGeLu uV ORNiXoLOJE. When Audubon's victims were unfortunate enough to survive, he would torment them with diabolical experiments and meticulously record the details of their suffering. Wounded birds were routinely prodded with sticks to see how they would react. Birds who tried to escape this torture were labeled as "cowardly" in his notes. Captured birds were often starved to see how long they could live without food. Sometimes birds of different species would be confined together in a small cage until they began to kill one another. Audubon took such delight in these abuses that he is probably best described as the Josef Mengele of ornithology.
PuRHaPS xu MOST QTRAJuS KASeZ uV uBYUS iNVoLV xu REVERD eMBLeM uV xu YUNITeD STATS, xu BoLD EGL. oDUBoN KuNFeST TU KiLing SeVuRuL uV xEZ MaGNiFiSeNT BuRDZ. HE soT WuN FEMAL WIL sE WuZ KeRing FOR HuR PResuS eGZ. aFTuR BLaSTing HuR FRuM xu NeST, oDUBoN PROSEDeD TU BRAK OPeN HuR eGZ aND KiL xu DEFeNSLeS CiKS. uNuxuR BoLD EGL WuZ soT iN xu Wing aND KaPCuRD. xiS WuN WuZ TID TU xu DeK uV oDUBoNZ BOT FOR HiZ uMYUZMeNT. iT LanGWisT xeR FOR XRE DAZ, aND WeN iT BEKAM TU MuC uV u NUSuNS, iT WuZ KiLD aND uNSeReMONEuSLE ToST OVuRBORD. oDUBoN oLSO KaPCuRD XRE BoLD EGL CiKS BI HaKing DQN xu ANCeNT TRE iN WiC xeR NeST WuZ FQND. xu FAT uV xEZ XRE iZ uNON, BuT xA WuR MOST LIKLE TORCuRD aND KiLD LIK xE uxuRZ. Perhaps the most outrageous cases of abuse involve the revered emblem of the United States, the bald eagle. Audubon confessed to killing several of these magnificent birds. He shot one female while she was caring for her precious eggs. After blasting her from the nest, Audubon proceeded to break open her eggs and kill the defenseless chicks. Another bald eagle was shot in the wing and captured. This one was tied to the deck of Audubon's boat for his amusement. It languished there for three days, and when it became too much of a nuisance, it was killed and unceremoniously tossed overboard. Audubon also captured three bald eagle chicks by hacking down the ancient tree in which their nest was found. The fate of these three is unknown, but they were most likely tortured and killed like the others.
xEZ oR ONLE xu KASeZ REPORTeD BI oDUBoN HiMSeLF. iT iZ PRoBuBL xaT MeNE MOR BuRDZ WuR SLAN, PoSiBLE uNDeR EVeN MOR HORiFIing SuRKuMSTaNSeZ xaN xOZ DESKRIBD HER. iN u SiKeNing FwTNOT TU xEZ STOREZ, oDUBoN DEKLeRD xaT xu BoLD EGL HaD BiN u PwR CqS aZ xE eMBLeM uV xu YUNITeD STATS, BEKoZ iT WuZ, iN HiZ OPiNYuN, u KQuRDLE BuRD. These are only the cases reported by Audubon himself. It is probable that many more birds were slain, possibly under even more horrifying circumstances than those described here. In a sickening footnote to these stories, Audubon declared that the bald eagle had been a poor choice as the emblem of the United States, because it was, in his opinion, a cowardly bird.
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