Saturday, December 15, 2012

Once Hidden

Winter comes slowly to western Oregon.  A few leaves start to turn yellow in September, others wait until October and November.  Even now, in December, sycamore leaves are a medley of of rich crimsons, reds and burnt gold.  Other trees are bare, including this maple above me.  

How many times have I walked under this nest and not seen it?  It’s two blocks from home and on my regular jaunt around the neighborhood.  This nest remained hidden until the winds stripped the maple leaves and tossed them into the rain.

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While I was posting the above nest I got to thinking about other nests I've painted in the last couple of years.  ... Nests are always of interest, whether active or sitting empty, their job done.  If you've been reading my blog for awhile you may have seen most of these.

The snowy one was inspired in Yellowstone .... probably a robin's nest.

Double-crested cormorants nest in colonies.  This colony is near the Oregon coast.

I was searching for dragonflies just a few miles from my home when I found this mallard nest tucked in a blackberry tangle.  I wouldn't have intensionally gotten so close.  I only paused for a moment, then sketched from memory.  

House sparrows usually take over bird houses or nest in nooks and crannies of buildings.    I was surprised to fine they are very capable of building a very sturdy home for their eggs.  I found at least a dozen nests in long line of Lombardy poplars which at been planted in western Washington, an area devoid of natural trees for miles and miles.

One of my very favorites nests is a bluebird nest in an aspen which has been scarred by a bear many years ago.   Some sort of woodpecker probably dug the hole.  One year I know a flicker nested there, but several years a pair of bluebirds have taken up residence.  Unfortunately the tree was reaching the end of its life when I sketched this.  It has since fallen.  There are plenty of other holes for them to choose from.


  1. Such beautiful nest sketches and washes, Elva!! I really like seeing the empty nests in Winter, too :-))

  2. If I have seen these before I don't care because I have throughly enjoyed seeing them again. I didn't know DCCO nested in trees! I have only seen their nests in rip rap or on the ground. I have seen a large colony of House Sparrows in a single tree out in the country. I have always regretted not taking a picture of this nest tree. I had never seen anything like it before or since. The tree was full of these little weaver nests all together. I too am amazed at the nests I find after the leaves come down especially sighted in my garden. I wonder what I was looking at all summer. ha..

  3. Love the nests. My folks used to have mountain bluebirds that nested near a living room window. They used to like to sit on a branch and look at themselves in the window. They finally put a mirror near the nest box. Sure enough the birds seemed to enjoy the mirror even better than the window.

  4. Oh I missed this post somehow. Been having those back and knee problems again. groan. I LOVE birds nests. My favorite one was a towhees nest in my flower garden one year and getting to watch the babies hatch. I almost watered it not knowing it was there, but was stopped by the parents antics of acting hurt to draw me away. Never thought to draw it. I did photograph it. Mama got her babies out of there as soon as she could even before they could fly. All these are great as usual Elva even if I saw some before I could see them again and in a book of your work. :)