Bird nests are wonderfully curious objects. Twigs, grass, moss, feathers and leaves woven together with secret intent. Every bird nest tells a unique story known only by the bird who created it, and by the nestlings it shelters and protects. This piece celebrates the intelligence, mystery and beauty of the nest-building process.
Found object, rotating assemblage (84"maximum diameter (36" diameter of dense nest material) x 24")
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 to use 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:
Bird Species Days
Least Flycatcher 5 – 7 days
Loggerhead Shrike 6 – 11 days
White-eyed Vireo 3 – 5 days
Clark’s Nutcracker 5 – 8 days
Verdin ~ 6 days
Cactus Wren 1 – 6 days
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher 2 – 4 days
Ruby-crowned Kinglet ~ 5 days
Northern Wheatear 2 – 7 days
American Robin 5 – 7 days
Gray Catbird 5 – 6 days
Cedar Waxwing 3 – 9 days
Yellow Warbler 4 – 10 days
Eastern Towhee up to 5 days
Chipping Sparrow 2 – 8 days
Scarlet Tanager 2 – 7 days
Northern Cardinal 3 – 9 days
Indigo Bunting 2 – 10 days
Red-winged Blackbird 3 days
Orchard Oriole 6 days
Pine Siskin 5 - 6 days
Time needed for me to build my rotating nest - 6.5 days
Birds flock together to migrate, stay warm, share information, search for food and stay safe from predators. Flock celebrates the super-organism that awakens as large numbers of birds gather together to forage or travel collectively.
Wire sculpture with birds (42" x 42 x 32")
We have a lot more in common with our crow neighbors than we think. Humans and crows both live in groups entwined in strong family values and social structure. Families work hard to protect and teach their offspring everything they will need to know in order to prosper and succeed in life. Materials used in shadow box on left: vintage hand colored crow and child sitting in bird nest made of faux human hair (7.5" x 7.5" x 3.75" )
Crows sometimes leave gifts for humans that feed them. The mixed media assemblage on the right celebrates the magical relationships that sometimes develop between different species.
Materials used: hand colored vintage crow image and found objects (10.5" x 10.5" x 2")