A Brief History of Fashion and the Beginnings of the National Audubon Society
In the late 19th century (around 1870s), large quantities of birds were being killed for their plumage to decorate women's hats. By 1886, birds were being killed at around a rate of 5 million per year for the millinery industry, and among the most popular of the feathers were the feathers of wading birds. Found abundantly in Florida, they were hunted and driven further south (the Everglades) and by the 1880s, no large populations of birds were found near any of Florida's major cities.
"The Cruelties of Fashion""Look ma, I got me a bird"
The Everglades, a relatively inhospitable place and generally A Bad Idea to build things in due to its proclivity of having cycles of great flooding and then dry seasons, are a prime nesting area for many of these wading birds. Tons and tons of rookeries are found here due to abundance of food and prime nesting sites so many, many species of wading birds go there in vast numbers. There are stories of people who would just go out with a shotgun, throw some rocks and shoot wildly in the air and they would easily get quite a few birds, but I can't verify if this actually happened. Anyways, when wading birds get ready for courting and breeding season, the males have absolutely beautiful plumage called mating plumage. These are the prized feathers, long, fine, vibrant, and absolutely gorgeous. Now, I'm not actually sure how many of these birds it takes to make a gnarly hat, but it's probably quite a few.
Snow Egret, Egretta thula
, in breeding plumage
Great Egret, Ardea alba
, in breeding plumage
Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias,
one of my personal favorites. Majestic as fuck, they're huuuge
Anyways, the National Audubon Society began when the editor of Field and Stream
became the leader of a movement to end the slaughter of all these birds for hats. "Membership was open to everyone refusing to wear bird feathers as ornaments and/or willing to prevent the killing of wild birds not used for food and the destruction of their eggs." In 1901, the Audubon Society successfully petitioned for the state to pass laws protecting Florida wildlife, especially the wading birds. Of course, the state wasn't in any position to enforce it, so the Audubon Society actually hired two people to be wardens of the area: two men by the name of Guy Bradley and Columbus McLeod.
Guy Bradley, who was assigned as game warden of the Everglades, was shot and killed in 1905 after confronting a man and his two sons for illegally hunting the egrets. One of the sons had already been arrested for poaching, and the father told Bradley, "You ever arrest one of my boys again, I'll kill you." Guy's body was found approximately 10 miles from the crime scene, having drifted so far after he bled to death.
Columbus McLeod disappeared and was presumed murdered in 1908.
Edited by g transistor - 4/11/13 at 11:40pm
Guy Bradley, 1870 - 1905