Welcome to On This Earth, a project that has been incubating in my brain for few years, and just now taking its virtual form. At the least It will be a place where I can post images and ideas that only exist in the hard drives that store them, and at it’s best it will be a link to a larger community of thinkers and image makers using their creativity to exclaim, extol and inspire.
The Cover (sans type) of Nests
This first post was prompted by finally seeing my own version of exclaiming and extolling in beautiful four-color print: Nests: Fifty Nests and the Birds that Built Them (Chronicle Books), my photographs of bird’s nests and eggs from the collections of The California Academy of Sciences, The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, and The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology with accounts of the nesting habits of these avian architects.
I don’t think I can state the inspiration for this book more clearly than I did in the books artist statement:
Moved by Scott Weidensaul’s illuminating study of migration, Living on the Wind, I call myself “a theoretical birder, one with a very short life list but on a quest to learn what birds need to be sustained both locally and globally.”
“What has been made so clear to me it that so many of the decisions I make in my daily life affect their survival. What I plant in my yard, what coffee I buy, what I put down the drain or into the atmosphere, or where I let my dog or cat wander – all of this matters. A lot….It was only after making the first photograph of a nest, drawn to its palette and messy, yet graceful and functional form, that I knew I had found my medium – or at least a way that I could be a medium for the birds.”
Thanks to its welcome into the world, this labor of love is being released a month before schedule. This response to the book I have to first attribute to its looks: the spot varnished front cover (sans title), the highly detailed reproductions, the design elements, and Laurie Wigham’s accurate yet charming bird illustrations.
Add to this the wonderful prose of Scott Weidensaul’s introduction, a personal account of nests seen in a life spent in the natural world, Jack Dumbacher and Maureen Flannery’s essay about the history of nest collecting and its importance for research, and the poem by Mimi White that describes the wonder that a bird sighting can inspire—all are worth reading more than a few times.
Finally, I think I can say with some pride that the essays are an informative read. As a photographer with only a few journalistic credits, I will spare you the angst that I endured with this wild leap into writing (not to mention about science). But after a read of the book by Linnea Hall at The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, I am reassured that I digested and parsed the data from nearly 150 species accounts and research papers accurately enough, and it should engage even the most avid birders.
Besides your local bookstore, here are few places that Nests: Fifty Nests and the Birds that Built Them will be making appearances:
- Read an informative slideshow at http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/201105/slideshow-nests/
- Join me at the California Academy of Sciences for their Earth Day NightLife on Thursday, April 21 from 6-10 pm for a book signing or stop by the Cal Academy until May 1 to view a few of my photographs included in an exhibit in the Piazza
- Take your photograph of an urban nest and submit it to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Funky Nest photo contest.