Sharon Beals

Artist’s Statement on the Nest Series
Built by Birds

The nests on these walls were photographed in science collections, part of a much larger project inspired by Scott Weidensaul’s book, Living on the Wind, Across the Hemispheres with Migrating Birds. Threaded through his essays about the amazing feat of migration are stories of the survival that many species of birds face along their journeys—challenges most often created by humans.

It is my hope that my photographs of these avian architectural marvels will invite viewers to become curious about their builders, and to share my concern for their survival. In Nests: Fifty Nests and the Birds that Built Them (Chronicle Books, 2011) I put words to my photographs, adding essays about bird behavior, nesting habits, and when it was important, the conservation concerns that a species might be facing today. I am currently working on a series of photographs of the nests of extinct and endangered species.

The California Academy of Sciences, the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, and the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian have generously allowed me to photograph their historic ornithology collections, with nest and eggs specimens collected as early as the 1800s.