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Photographer Sharon Beals is inspired by the natural world. She uses it to create stunning portraits that help us see the world in a new way. Her latest series, Bird Nests, features just that: birds” nests against a black background. The nests come from a variety of species and are made of all kinds of material. Some of them even date back as many as a hundred years. These nests are not currently occupied by any birds, but were collected for research over the past century from around the world. Collections are amassed by organizations such as the The California Academy of Sciences, The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, and The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology.

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail

Collected in California, 1901.

Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch

An abandoned nest found in California, September 2007.

Western Tanager

Western Tanager

Collected near Carson City, NV, June 1934.

Grey Jay

Grey Jay

Collected in Colorado, ca. April 1938.

House Finch

House Finch

Made from various pieces of litter and sewing scraps. Collected near Tucson, AZ, in May 1965.

Common Yellow Throat

Common Yellow Throat

In wrapping paper. Collected in California, June 1918.

Golden-Winged Warbler

Golden-Winged Warbler

Collected in Orange County, NY, June 2001.

American Robin

American Robin

Collected near Lake Tahoe, CA, in May 1920.

Anna”s Hummingbird

Anna

This teeny nest measures only about 2 inches across and is made of moss, feathers, lichen, spider webs, and seeds. Donated to the California Academy of Science in 2007.

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

Collected on Tatoosh Island, WA, in 1995.

Akeke”e

Akeke

Collected near Kokee State Park, HI, in March 1970.

Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper

Left: Collected in Pierce County, WA in April 1926. Right: Collected in Mono County, CA in 1942.

Spotted Nightingale-Thrush

Spotted Nightingale-Thrush

Collected in Oaxaca, Mexico in May 1968.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

No collection information, but this is one of the only wearable nests.

Highland Guan

Highland Guan

Collected in Oaxaca, Mexico, May 1964.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

No collection information. This sparrow, though, was rather resourceful.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Collected in California in 2005. This sparrow had some different building ideas than the can sparrow.

The nests were collected by various researchers. The eggs in the nests aren”t necessarily from the nests they”re photographed with. Most eggs (if not all) were collected elsewhere at different dates. The eggs and nests were combined to show what the nest would look like while in use. Furthermore, the eggs collected are typically ones that never hatched or were never fertilized.

The photos, as well as the nests themselves, help researchers such as biologists, ecologists, and ornithologists collect information on the birds. They also collect information on their habits and how changes in the environment may affect them. For Beals, photographing nature helps her both share its beauty with others, as well as bring to attention the environmental issues facing the world.

There are more nests to see on Beals” website and Flickr page.

Via Lost At E Minor

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