For half a century Audubon was America’s dominant wildlife artist. His seminal Birds of America, a collection of 435 life-size prints is considered a masterpiece of bird drawings and as a result the name Audubon remains synonymous with birds and bird conservation the world over. He traveled in Ohio and Kentucky, considered the edge of the western world, to find and draw the birds of the American frontier. He lived at Mill Grove, near Philadelphia, where he hunted, studied and drew birds, and met his wife, Lucy Bakewell. While there, he conducted the first known bird-banding experiment in North America, tying strings around the legs of Eastern Phoebes; he learned that the birds returned to the very same nesting sites each year.
Later in life, Audubon set up a dry-goods store in Henderson, KY. He continued to draw birds as a hobby, amassing an impressive portfolio. While in Kentucky, Lucy gave birth to two sons, Victor Gifford and John Woodhouse, as well as a daughter who died in infancy. Audubon was quite successful in business for a while, but hard times hit, and in 1819 he was briefly jailed for bankruptcy.