John James Audubon, Eskimo Curlew (Numenius borealis), Study for Havell pl. 208, 1833 [EXTINCT]. Watercolor, graphite, pastel, gouache, and black ink with scratching out and selective glazing on paper, laid on card. New-York Historical Society, Purchased for the Society by public subscription from Mrs. John J. Audubon, 1863.17.208
Until the 1870s, immense flocks of Eskimo Curlews migrating through the Canadian Maritime provinces and New England fattened up on blueberries and fruits before heading to South America (they feasted on grasshoppers when heading north). Despite its once vast numbers, the species was decimated during a twenty-year period and was rarely seen after 1890. Disturbingly prescient and poignant, this watercolor is the sole instance in which Audubon portrayed a dead bird that is not the prey of another.