Monday, 7 October 2013

Creating a nest

On a recent visit to the magnificent McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park down on the Mornington Peninsular we were 'blown away' and virtually moved to tears by a very special exhibition of ... birds' nests.
A bit hard to see but this nest comprises 'woven' fencing wire - what a feat for a beak
The exhibition was appropriately named NEST and as the accompanying publicity stated 'it explores the beauty, ingenuity and originality of birds' nests - from magpies to honeyeaters, from chaffinches to parrots and from hummingbirds to African weavers.It displays the architectural skill of birds, their consummate ability to make work that is both delicate and durable, as well as the astonishing array of materials they use'. 
All tucked up in a very old container - look at the 'mud work'
Comprising the private collection of Gay Bilson (better known for the magnificent restaurant she once created at Berowra Waters on the Hawkesbury River) and the Museum of Victoria collection. Each of them was quite remarkable. There's no doubt about nature. Amazing.

And talking about mud - glued to the branch, perfectly round and soft inside

It looks a mess but this is the bower birds presentation in front of the nest - blue bottle tops, string, plastic, ribbon - all collected to 'woo the Mrs!'

Look at the weaving, look at the use of the leaves and it would be so cosy and safe inside
But this was our all-time-favourite. As Sir David Attenborough said about the tiny Cisticola (a type of warbler). 'There is no more skilled tailor in the whole of the bird world'. 
What a clever little bird
And the description at the Gallery really summed it up. 'The nest is precisely sewn together with broad, living, green leaves and spider silk. Both parents collect plant down and spider silk. The male pierces the leaves and presses the thread through to the female who attaches it to the inside. The finished nest is extremely well camouflaged. The female incubates and breeds alone'. It took about 12 days to build.   
Look closely at the middle leaf - you will see it is neatly stitched onto the nest - extraordinary
If you haven't visited the Gallery and in particular the Sculpture Park do so, it's just a 40 minute drive from the city on the Eastlink Freeway. The coffee shop is terrific. Unfortunately the exhibition has now closed.

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