Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ackermann Pets

I've noticed that some of Ackermann's fashion plates show women carrying parrots or small birds, so it must have been a popular thing to own birds. Raising pigeons and doves for food has been a common pastime since who knows when. Early farm management books always include a section on the building and operation of dovecotes. The Repository has pictures of elegant aviaries for the wealthy to build on their estates.

Later pictures of home interiors often include caged birds, probably canaries. I came upon a genealogy website forum where a woman had discovered an ancestor's birth certificate from 1846 which listed the father's occupation as "bird fancier". Since all the men in the family were carpenters, it seemed unlikely that this man was an upper-class person whose main occupation was raising and studying birds. Most likely, he specialized within carpentry in the making of pigeon cages.

Many years ago, I read of a collection of photos of American prairie settlers posing for family photographs in front of their dwellings. Most of the houses were extremely primitive, often sod houses built by first generation pioneers.  In each photo, there was a bird cage. It's fascinating to imagine this family making the very difficult journey westward with this caged bird, but it must have been an important part of "home" to have the chirping and singing of this little bird with them. Interesting that they brought the cage outdoors with them for the photograph, including little Birdie in the family portrait.

Thomas Jefferson in his study, 1803

Here's an interesting painting of Thomas Jefferson in his study at the White House in 1803. Click the link for an interactive study of the photograph, pointing out parts of the room and its decor, telling much about this fascinating man. Notice the stuffed owls on the bookcase.

Dolly and Minerva invite all their bird-loving friends to a bird fanciers' party, with awful results. Having a bird feeder myself, it's obvious that different breeds of birds are not friendly toward each other. Some birds kill and eat others, as people involved in hawking and falconry know.

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