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series: Summer Of Birds
air date: 2/24/13 3:00 AM
A SUMMER OF BIRDS details a relatively unknown chapter in the life of renowned naturalist painter, ornithologist and literary figure John James Audubon. Based on the acclaimed book, A Summer of Birds: John James Audubon at Oakley House by award-winning writer Danny Heitman, the documentary chronicles the formative summer Audubon spent in Louisiana in 1821, in the lush surroundings of Oakley Plantation in West Feliciana Parish. There, Audubon began or completed nearly half of the 435 pictures in his famous "Birds of America" collection. Narrated by Emmy-winning actress Sela Ward (House; Once and Again; Sisters), the film explores the profound influence of Louisiana's natural environment and birdlife on Audubon's development as an artist and writer, and conversely, Audubon's undeniable impact on the region and its cultural identity. Today, the Audubon mystique is deeply ingrained in Louisiana culture, where annual community rituals keep it alive. Each year, visitors flock to Oakley Plantation, the Audubon Pilgrimage and the Audubon Bird Fest, a three-day bird-watching expedition. A SUMMER OF BIRDS tells this colorful story through Audubon's most iconic bird images; historical re-enactments; original journal entries; interviews with wildlife painters, scientists and conservationists working to preserve Audubon's legacy; and scenes of the region's wild and fragile landscapes and its rare and threatened bird species. Cameras accompany modern-day birding enthusiasts and naturalists through Louisiana's bayous and woodsy pathways to experience their "paradise of birds" the same way Audubon did nearly 200 years ago.
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