Hidden in Plain Sight

When I was a kid, my grandmother used to play “hide the thimble” with my sisters and me. A variant of hide and seek, she’d hide a thimble or other small object in plain sight and we’d try to find it. The thrill of discovery fueled many rounds of play, until my grandmother’s hiding places (and likely her patience) were exhausted. Lately, I’m playing a similar game with birds. They hide their nests—often in plain sight— in ways that defy detection. Camouflaged eggs and nests and stealth behavior are critical to their strategy. A sharp eye and keen awareness are keys to mine. Still, I walked by this song sparrow nest many times before noticing it, tucked into grass and clover. As you can see, it was a beautiful find.

Song Sparrow Nest, 8x8”, watercolor, 2016

Song Sparrow Nest, 8×8”, watercolor, 2016. Click to view larger.

The painting was made from a photo, quickly snapped when I found the nest. I prefer painting from life, but leaving the nest undisturbed was critical in this case.

24 Comments on “Hidden in Plain Sight

  1. Oh Jean this is just so sweet. I had no idea that bird nests have green plant material – I learned something new while enjoying this truly lovely painting. Thank you!

  2. How joyful Jean – the birds trust you to find it and capture with your brushes. As always, lovely work 🎨❤️

  3. A beautiful find indeed. I must be more diligent about watching where my feet walk!!! Love all that beautiful clover over the top!

  4. Golly, what a really nice painting of your treasure found in the grass. It really does take patience and keen observation skills to spot any bird nests…excerpt maybe a robin’s. The robin nests are not well hidden so the predators in our area easily spot them, pick up the whole nest with eggs and all in it, then eventually drop the nest somewhere along the way. I have found several on the road while out walking. You were fortunate to be able to observe the bird nesting in the one you spotted for identification. For your info, the Audubon Society in your area might be interested in the nest for their collection, if you’re not interested in keeping it after the bird has abandoned it.

    • Thanks! My husband just brought me a lovely robin’s egg found on the sidewalk by his office this week. Beautiful color. As luck would have it, this nest is at a nature preserve, so staff there is aware of it and has it flagged so mowers and people can keep a distance. Nesting on the ground seems like risky business to me…but it works for many birds!

  5. This is soooo gorgeous Jean! I love it! 😍😍So delicate and beautiful! And the textures and detail are amazing. (And would love to included you in the gallery I’m making at the end of the month… if you’d like to join us, just add #NatureDoodlewash to your tags on nature watercolors this month!😉)

  6. Though it would be hard to choose, your nests are among my favorites of your sketches. What a wonderful find and beautiful rendering! We have a robin’s nest in our cherry tree which I hope to sketch once the little ones have left. I’m also working from a photo of a nest a morning dove built on the top of the overnight key drop box where we take our car to be repaired. They build their nests in the most unlikely places.

    • Thanks Susan! Nest are one of my favorite things to paint. I have never found a mourning dove nest, though I have quite a few of doves in my yard. I’ll have to look that up. Hope your painting is coming along well!

  7. You have again captured nature at its most inspiring simplicity and beauty.

    • What a very nice compliment. Thanks! This nest was on Hog Island, where I spent a few days helping to open the camp. Lovely up there! We need an art date!

  8. Wow I love nature so much and I swear this is so beautiful – I can’t find the right words bcs for me this is beyond beautiful

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