An exquisitely illustrated, one-of-a-kind celebration of the hidden beauty of nature and the ingenuity of birds
Susan Ogilvy started painting bird nests almost by accident. One day, while tidying up her garden after a storm, she found a chaffinch nest - a strange, sodden lump on the grass under a fir tree. She carried it inside and placed it on a newspaper; over the next few hours, as the water drained out of it, the sodden lump blossomed into a mossy jewel. She was amazed, and dropped everything to make a painting of the nest at exact life size.
This was the start of an obsession; Ogilvy has since painted more than fifty bird nests from life, each time marvelling at its ingenious construction. Every species of bird has its own vernacular, but sources its materials - most commonly twigs, roots, grasses, reeds, leaves, moss, lichen, hair, feathers and cobwebs, less usually, mattress stuffing and string - according to local availability. Ogilvy would, of course, never disturb nesting birds; instead she relies upon serendipity, which is why all her nests have either been abandoned after fulfilling their purpose, or displaced by strong winds.
Although Nests showcases the specimens she has found near her homes in Somerset and on the Isle of Arran, its subject matter is by no means only British, since these same birds can be found all over Europe, Scandinavia and as far afield as Russia, Turkey and North Africa. This wondrous book is all the more special for its rarity. Few modern books exist specifically on the subject of bird nests; the most recent among the author's reference works was published in 1932. Exquisitely designed and packaged, Nests will be an essential addition to the libraries of all nature lovers.
A magical book
The birds' nests in Susan Ogilvy's new book are beautifully painted in watercolour and at life-size... The shapes of her paintings, as of the nests themselves, are each different. They are also clearer than photographs could have been - you can almost feel you're holding them in your hand. This is an enchanting book
This is the most beautiful, treasure-like book, a collection of exquisitely painted discarded bird nests accompanied by highly informative text. The nests are life-sized and Ogilvy's beautiful work is minutely detailed, so you can really see every last bit of twig and moss. The variety is extraordinary and the birds' building styles even more so... A really wonderful book
A gem of a book
A cool, clean ruffle of winter air. Ranging across almost 30 species, it is an illustrated guide to the nests Ogilvy discovered around her home. Like Tracey Emin's bed, avian housekeeping reveals a lot about the species in question