Artistry of the Blackbird
Red-winged blackbirds hide their nests of woven sedges, grasses, and cattails deep in marshes, wet meadows, and swamps. Females weave the structure low to the ground, finding perfect hiding places to lay their eggs and raise young. Sometimes several females will nest in close proximity and even share the same mate. Because of their wet locations and perfect camouflage, I have never found a blackbird nest in the field. The ones I’ve seen and painted are from natural history museums and nature centers. Sometimes they are recently collected and sometimes, as with the one here, they are more than 100 years old. What a pleasure it is to glimpse the secrets of the nest and share the beautiful artistry of the bird.
Tips and Techniques– When painting a nest, I pick out major strands that can become “guideposts” for the structure. These are typically larger strands of nesting material that I can use as reference points for all the small stuff around them. When I get lost in the complexity, I return to my guideposts and work the sections behind and between them, adding more detail with each pass of paint. Follow the work in progress to decipher some of the stages of developing this nest.