Home tweet home: how an illustrator captured the intricacy of bird nests

Home tweet home: how an illustrator captured the intricacy of bird nests

When Susan Ogilvy starting painting nests in her garden she realised there were few pictorial accounts of these complex creations

One day about five years ago, while she was clearing up her Somerset garden after a storm, Susan Ogilvy found a curious object under a fir tree. “I had no idea what it was,” she recalls of the small, sodden green lump. “It clearly hadn’t grown naturally; it had been made by something. I picked it up and brought it inside and put it on a wodge of newspaper and, as the weight of water drained out of it, it sprang up into this absolutely fantastic nest.”

Her immediate response to her discovery – an unfinished chaffinch nest as it turned out – was to sit down and paint it. Ogilvy, a veteran botanical illustrator, had recently published a book about tree leaves, but on this occasion she was painting “just for the sheer pleasure of it”. She chuckles: “I didn’t know anything about nests. I was one of those people who thought of them as little twiggy things.”

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