Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Art of Gathering Twigs

Have you ever thought about where birds get the twigs they use for their nests? I always assumed they picked them up where ever they've fallen, loose on the ground or some other surface. But this female cardinal showed me another way they gather twigs. She caught my eye because she was fluttering, hanging upside down and moving around in an odd way. Odd, that is, until I saw the twig in her mouth.

She was working on breaking this twig, gnawing it, pulling it, using her whole body weight. It took a lot of energy and even a pause in between efforts, but she did succeed and promptly flew away with it in her beak.
I wrote in my sketch book, "I marvel at the work it takes for a bird to build a nest. If it takes that much energy to harvest one twig, imagine building a whole nest!"

Visit Vickie Henderson Art to see more images of this cardinal and 'twig harvesting'.


  1. WOnderful post and art Vickie. What type of sketch book is showing in this post?

  2. So beautiful, Vickie! Fascinating look at these birds...

  3. Thanks you, Kate and Ricky. The sketchbook used in this art is the 5 x 7 multi-media sketchbook by Holbein. I can't recommend it for watercolor. It's thin, thirsty paper. Colors don't blend on the surface and move very little. You have to apply water very sparingly. Its a good multi-purpose book, but for my style and preference, I need tougher paper with a surface that allows more movement and blending. Having said that, I began my hawk observations in this book and I decided to keep using it until I fill it.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  4. Beautiful drawings and paintings, Vickie. Besides the weavers, who tear up every available piece of foliage for their nesting, I have also noticed similar actions by the Red Eyed Bull Bulls in my garden - it's fascinating behaviour.


  5. I love your observations and studies! I've seen birds pick up sticks from the ground, but didn't know they actually "harvested" their own. maybe they make better nests because they can bend he material better? I found a nest 2 weeks ago on the ground that had all kinds of litter in it: dryer lint, a gum wrapper, some clear cellophane strips, and some cord.


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