The Birds of America

This first purchase for the library shows birds life sized and in their native habitats.

First purchase for the library

John James Audubon's The Birds of America — as much artwork as scientific work — is on permanent display in the Audubon Room of the Hatcher Library, where a page is turned regularly.

The work was published as a series between 1827 and 1838, and contains 435 life-size images of North American birds reproduced from hand-engraved plates and hand painted with watercolors.

Our eight‐volume, double‐elephant folio edition of The Birds of America was the first purchase for the library by the regents of the university. The regents paid $970 for the set, which was an extraordinary expenditure in 1838, and a significant act of faith for a university that had yet to offer a single class or construct its first building.

Read more about Birds in the Library.

Related collections

John J. Audubon’s Birds of America from the National Audubon Society allows free high-resolution downloads.

John James Audubon’s Birds of America and Viviparous Quadrupeds includes all images from U-M Library’s Viviparous Quadrupeds and a small selection from The Birds of America.