Found object, rotating assemblage. (84"maximum diameter (36" diameter of dense nest material) x 24")
Bird nests are wonderfully curious objects. I created this piece to celebrate the intelligence, mystery and beauty of the nest-building process. Twigs, grass, moss, feathers and leaves woven together with secret intent. Each nest tells a unique story known only by the incredible bird who created it, and by the nestlings it shelters and protects.
Birds use nests to shield their eggs and nestlings from predators and bad weather. Birds will cleverly camouflage, hide or build their nests in hard to reach places to keep predators at bay. As important as nests are for bird survival, very little is known about the mysteries of the nest-building process. Instinct surely plays a role, but how much or how little? Bird nests are 3D extensions of a bird's mind. In the center of this piece is a large bird eye, constantly on alert, always aware of its surroundings. As I built this rotating assemblage, my mind was full of questions:
How do birds choose their nesting materials? By shape, color, density, size, pliability?
Why do some species of birds glue their nests together with saliva or mud while others dig or weave?
Is all bird saliva similar in stickiness?
Is the saliva of birds that glue their nests together different from the saliva of birds that weave their nests?
Do birds try build their nests with the same materials that were used in the nest they were raised in?
Do nest-building skills improve over time? Does practice make perfect?
Do birds learn building techniques from others in their flock?
If nest-building happens on a windy day, is construction put on hold?
Do birds choose their mates based on the quality and size of their nests?
Do birds search for materials in their established territory or do they establish territory based on available nest-building materials?
Time needed for various songbirds to complete their nests:
Species Typical time to build nest Reference
Least Flycatcher 5 – 7 days Tarof and Briskie 2008
Loggerhead Shrike 6 – 11 days Yosef 1996
White-eyed Vireo 3 – 5 days Hopp et al. 1995
Clark’s Nutcracker 5 – 8 days Tomback 1998
Verdin about 6 days Webster 1999
Cactus Wren 1 – 6 days Proudfoot et al. 2000
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher 2 – 4 days Farquhar and Ritchie 2002
Ruby-crowned Kinglet about 5 days Swanson et al. 2008
Northern Wheatear 2 – 7 days Kren and Zoerb 1997
American Robin 5 – 7 days Sallabanks and James 1999
Gray Catbird 5 – 6 days Smith et al. 2011
Cedar Waxwing 3 – 9 days Witmer et al. 1997
Yellow Warbler 4 – 10 days Lowther et al. 1999
Eastern Towhee up to 5 days Greenlaw 1996
Chipping Sparrow 2 – 8 days Middleton 1998
Scarlet Tanager 2 – 7 days Mowbray 1999
Northern Cardinal 3 – 9 days Halkin and Linville 1999
Indigo Bunting 2 – 10 days Payne 2006
Red-winged Blackbird 3 days Holcomb and Twiest 1968
Orchard Oriole 6 days Scharf and Kren 2010
Pine Siskin 5 - 6 days Dawson 1997
Time needed for me to build my rotating nest - 6.5 days
Assemblage (42" x 42 x 32")
Birds will flock together to migrate, search for food and stay safe from predators. Murmuration, flying together in quick movements and patterns that seem connected and one-minded, is a phenomenon of nature that amazes and delights all who are lucky enough to see it. This piece was created to celebrate the mystery of the super-organism that is created when a large flock of birds travel together across the sky.