Alexander Wilson in 1808 wrote the first volume of "American Ornithology" to run 9 volumes and contains illustrations of 320 species. He is known as the FATHER OF AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGY. At the same time Audubon was trying to paint the birds of North America. They met in Kentucky--imagine Wilson's surprise. The meeting may also have inspired Audubon to publish his work but Audubon also copied Wilson and they were enemies. Audubon published "The Birds of America" form 1827-1838, 435 copper engravings, hand-painted over. Audubon was a better artist but not as good an observer as Wilson. I think Audubon was so jealous of Wilson that he copied Wilson's Mississippi Kite--even though Wilson was the inferior artist!
Another early painter was John Gould wanted to paint the birds of the world. He painted from skins, over 3,000 plates (many (most?) only overseen).
The 1880's saw American moving Westward. Neither Lewis nor Clark was a trained zoologist, yet theirs were the first descriptions of California Gull and McCown's Longspur. In all, they described about 130 species new to Science but only Clark's Nutcracker, Lewis' Woodpecker, and, now Clark's Grebe bear their names. Basically their work was stolen by others.
Audubon's kite (above) and Wilson's kite