A Famous Bird Illustration…and where to get your own (for FREE!)

If you follow me socially you may have already seen a little snippet of this project.

Print Your Own Free Audubon Flamingo | The Painted Hive

I wasn’t going to dedicate a whole blog post to it, though in the end I decided it really does deserve one.

Ages ago you might recall I published a post about the work of naturalist James John Audubon which included a link to a great website where you can download high-res digital copies of his stunning illustrations for around $14. That’s a bargain.

Printable Birds (High Res Large Scale)

A little while later however one of my lovely Facebook friends informed me that the Audubon website also offers large-scale digital copies of his illustrations. For FREE. Now, that’s really a bargain!

I had already purchased my $14 digital copy of his American Flamingo though decided to download one from the free source too (see the end of this post for full instructions on how to find and download your own). There were some slight differences (size, colour, noise) though nothing major.

Large Scale Free Printable Flamingo | The Painted Hive

I LOVE this illustration. It’s probably one of his most iconic works. And my little Charlotte loves it too (hey, flamingos are pink, what’s not to like?) which is the main reason I acquired the digital image in the first place – to print a copy for her bedroom wall.

Audubon American Flamingo Free Printable | The Painted Hive

I was leaning towards creating a wall chart with it though decided instead to make use of a large gilt frame I already had (found for $30 on eBay a year or so back).

To format my image and have it printed I used the same process I always do for large-scale art (you can read about it in detail in my post here which contains a full tutorial).

Basically, I measured my frame opening, re-sized my image to fit (which included some cropping), made a few small edits (just to clean it up a bit) then ordered a print through the Officeworks online service.

It would have cost just $22 (for a 59cm x 84cm/23″ x 33″ full colour poster) though for an additional $10 I up-graded my paper from 160gsm Coated to 200gsm Satin. In my opinion it’s totally worth it for a print like this which isn’t behind glass.

I’ve seen much smaller Audubon reproduction prints being sold for triple the price of mine so please don’t pay too much!

When it arrived I was blown away. The quality is superb! Really.

Audubon Flamingo Printable

To frame it I simply removed the reproduction painting which was already in the frame and used it as a template to trim my flamingo print to perfect size. I then attached my flamingo to the rear of the existing artwork (that way I can always flip it over again if I feel like a change) with strong double-sided tape. You could also use spray adhesive or decoupage medium.

Note: If your frame is empty you can simply cut your own new backing sheet from a panel of thin MDF or thick card (or similar). I have a simple tutorial for filling “naked” frames here.

Vignette Collage

To hang it I avoided the need for any nails and screws by using some Command Hanging Strips. I love these things! There were no studs in the right place anyway so it saved me a headache.

I’ve styled the print with a copious amount of antique books, some old tin globes I’ve collected over the years and a pair of thrifted brass swans from my local op shop.

Tin World Globes

Brass Swan

Only one more big-ish project and a few little details to go then Charlotte’s room will finally be complete. Yay!

Free Printable American Flamingo | The Painted Hive

 

Signature

HOW TO FIND & DOWNLOAD YOUR OWN FREE AUDUBON ILLUSTRATION

1 Go to the Audubon website.
2 Hover over “Birds” in the horizontal menu (to the right of where it says “Audubon”).
3 Click the option you want (for example “John James Audubon’s Birds of America”) and a new page will open.
4 Scroll down until you see thumbnails of all the illustrations.
5 Click the illustration you want and a new page will open.
6 Scroll down a little and click “Download high-resolution file” (in blue text beneath the small version of the illustration) and a new window will open.
7 Click the image which opens in the new window to enlarge it to its full size then right click and save it to your computer.
8 That’s it!

You may be asked to subscribe to the website in return for downloading the image. This isn’t a requirement though is a nice way to say thanks.


28 Comments
  1. Janet Reddick says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!! Am interested in getting photos from Audobon, how do you get them for free with their permission?

    • Hmmm, to be honest, I’m not certain Janet. I would assume the photographs on the site are all copyrighted and would probably need to be purchased.
      I noticed that there is a contact email specifically for their art department which deals with all photography: photography@audubon.org. It wouldn’t hurt to ask.
      :)

  2. suzyMcQ says:

    Your print looks amazing. Thanks for sharing all the info. I visited the Audubon website and didn’t see where images can be downloaded. Can you enlighten us? Thanks so much.

    • Hi Suzy
      I’ll update the post to include the step-by-step instructions though this is what to do…
      – Go to the Audubon website.
      – Hover over “Birds” in the horizontal menu (to the right of ‘Audubon’).
      – Click the option you want (for example “John James Audubon’s Birds of America”) and a new page will open.
      – Scroll down until you see thumbnails of all the illustrations.
      – Click the illustration you want and a new page will open.
      – Scroll down a little and click “Download high-resolution file” (in blue text beneath the small illustration) and a new window will open.
      – Click the image which opens in the new window to enlarge it to its full size then right click and save it to your computer.
      – That’s it!
      You may be asked to subscribe to the website in return for downloading the image though this isn’t a requirement.
      Hope this helps.
      Kristine

      • suzyMcQ says:

        Thank you so much, Kristine, for being so responsive to requests for additional information. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked a question of a blogger and never, ever received a response. How kind of you to assist during a very busy time for everyone! I’m a follower for life! Happy Thanksgiving!

        • Aw, thanks Suzy. It’s really lovely of you to share your gratitude.
          “Talking” with my readers is one of my main blogging priorities. Although it can be time-consuming, for me responding to any questions and having conversations like this is one of the most enjoyable aspects of being a blogger.
          :)

  3. Deb from Maryland says:

    I love what you’ve done with it! Thanks for sharing all the “free” info you come across. And I can’t tell you how much I appreciate how great your tutes are for printing these large size prints. I’m chomping at the bit to download the print I have of van Gogh’s The Church at Auvers – once I finish painting my bedroom. :)

    • Aw, thanks Deb. I’m so glad you find all my babbling useful :)

  4. I love Audubon prints. I ordered two for our master bedroom (https://homeon129acres.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/one-room-challenge-week-6-master-bedroom-reveal/), but they were not free. Thanks for sharing your secret!

    • Lovely Julia. I absolutely adore the wall colour with the warm hints of woods and metals. The bird prints are perfection in there!

  5. Alice says:

    I went to the Audibon website but could not find a link to get free OR BUY anywhere. Have they discontinued it? Must one donate and become a member before access is visible? Thanks if anyone has the answer to this.

    • Hi Alice

      I’ll update the post to include the step-by-step instructions though this is what to do…

      – Go to the Audubon website.
      – Hover over “Birds” in the horizontal menu (to the right of ‘Audubon’).
      – Click the option you want (for example “John James Audubon’s Birds of America”) and a new page will open.
      – Scroll down until you see thumbnails of all the illustrations.
      – Click the illustration you want and a new page will open.
      – Scroll down a little and click “Download high-resolution file” (in blue text beneath the small illustration) and a new window will open.
      – Click the image which opens in the new window to enlarge it to its full size then right click and save it to your computer.
      – That’s it!

      You may be asked to subscribe to the website in return for downloading the image though this isn’t a requirement.

      Hope this helps.

      Kristine

  6. marcie says:

    Thank you for all of this info about the free Audobon Society downloads!! I have used this same flamingo in a bathroom I recently redid and blogged about and I love it!! I have been wanting to use one of the pelicans but they can be pricey. I have wanted it to be quite large and now I can do it!!! This is exciting news!!!
    Thanks again for sharing!
    Marcie

  7. I love the idea of using free downloadable prints in amazing frames as a way to decorate!

  8. Tom says:

    Nice images Kristine I was curious where you got those brass swans?

    • Thanks Tom. I happened upon them in a charity thrift store one day. I was lucky to get the pair for just $7. I love them!

  9. This is so fabulous! Thanks for sharing.

    • You’re so welcome Stefanie. Hope the resource is useful for you :)

  10. In fact you have a distinctive style when you display your ideas, I like your ideas very much specifically the first one.

  11. Megan E Bonis says:

    I like your version of the print better. Is it possible to get the version you have? I can not find a link for it anywhere, although, I may have overlooked it somewhere.

    Thanks!

  12. Erin Prohaska says:

    Hi there! I know this post is from a while ago and I’m not sure if you’re answering questions on it still but I figured it wouldn’t hurt. I have been wanting to get this print for a while now and I had been planning on downloading the free version until I saw your print and I like how it’s simplified. My question is when I look at the link to the ‘awesome art’ listing, the background appears very yellowed. I wondered if it looked like that when you purchased yours or have they maybe updated it since you bought yours? The print you have appears pretty white in the background and I prefer that to the very yellow tone. Thanks a million in advance if you happen to catch this and can weigh in! Loving your blog!

    • Hi Erin
      Just looked at the print on the Awesome Art site and compared it to the one I have hanging in my house and the background is very similar – a clotted cream sort of colour which most people would probably refer to as yellow. It does present as more white in my photos which may be because I took the pics on a bright day and all of the deeper gold tones surrounding it give the impression it is less saturated.
      Had a quick play in Photoshop and it’s easy to make an adjustment to reduce the yellow-ness. I can’t offer you my print, as that would be an intellectual property breach, though if you choose to purchase one yourself from Awesome Art I am happy to edit it for you :)
      Just let me know.
      Kristine

  13. Erin Prohaska says:

    Hi Kristine,

    First, I’m so grateful that you took the time to respond! I’m sure you have a lot going on in your life like the rest of us and this is very appreciated! Second, I am honored that you would offer to take the time to edit the print for me! I am about the least techy person there is and I was already wondering how I was going to edit it to the right size for printing, much less altering the color! 😉 I would be beyond grateful if you are still up for it as soon as I have the print!
    Thank you…really!
    Erin

    • Of course Erin. Once you purchase it, just email the file over to me (thepaintedhive@gmail.com) and let me know your specs. I’ll re-size it and adjust the colour for you :)

  14. Alissa says:

    I love these, and I was hoping to print the snowy egret to frame in our new home in Charleston. However, when I click to download the high resolution file, it gives me a message to “slow down please, reduce your request rate.” It does this for any bird that I try. Any ideas of how to fix this?
    Thank you!
    Alissa

    • Hi Alissa
      Have you managed to get it to work? I wish I could help though I just tried and it worked fine for me. I haven’t seen that message before :(

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