Beauty In the Birds-Eye Mind of the Beholder


A snow-covered bird's nest tucked into the branch of a tree, with brightly colored ribbons woven into the nest.
A snow-covered bird’s nest with brightly colored ribbons woven into the nest. (C) Jane M. Mason, 2014.

This is a watercolor painting I created a few years ago. It depicts a bird’s nest intertwined with holiday ribbons. It is from my imagination.

But, oh my….the experiences I have had trying to get birds to make nests using the beautiful ribbons and strands of gorgeous wool, satin, and silk that I have intentionally selected for them. I thoughtfully draped these tantalizing textile appetizers on shrubs, in trees, across porch banisters, and near bird feeders in my yard.

I discovered that no bird ever had taken any of my elegant or brilliantly dyed strands of fabric. (As much as I could scientifically ascertain with in my yard…) Over the months I watched the strands and streamers of fabric get rained on, snowed on, and bleached from the sun. Unstarched and abandoned, they sadly sank farther into the core of the shrubs or blew off branches into the flotsam of spring rains.

Having some bird families who perennially made nests at a convenient eye-height in my yard I would studiously examine what they had chosen for their nests instead of my offerings. I found plastic six-pack straps, muddy paper, twine, sticks, mud, leaves, chunks of Styrofoam, plastic from bags of chips, and other “trash” in the nests…. it was mind-boggling to contemplate why these common, discarded remnants of modern life were preferable to intentional products of a weaver or textile artists.

In the final analysis, I had to accept it: whether considering functional art, or art for arts’ sake, it really is in the eye of the beholder, eh?

So this “Winter Nest” watercolor painting with the brightly colored holiday ribbons is a wishful figment of my imagination.

Although in discussing this with my sister, she noted that in her (similar) experiments–and who knew she and I were doing the same independent experiments–she found pieces of her fabrics in nests farther away from her home. And, in discussing with others, too, they reminded me that looking only in the 2-3 nests at eye level, I really limited my review of results! So, the take-away here is not only that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, BUT ALSO that scientific experiments should be peer reviewed, and that our “line of sight” does not provide an objective point of view. (It’s like when you lose your keys looking only under the street-light because the light is better there!)

Have you tried a similar experience with studying bird behavior? Let me know.

About artinthecenter

I am a lifelong artist having studied painting, photography, drawing, and other media, in schools in the US and Italy. I won my first art contest when I was five--at a museum-- and my point of view tends to be as a five-year-old creative child embracing life. Check out all sort of artsy information at: and purchase my artwork at: +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ This policy is valid from 1 January 2016. This is a personal, educational, blog written and edited by me, Jane M. Mason. For questions about this blog, please contact: Sincere effort has been made to cite, recognize, and thank all sources of content, including images. If you feel we have included something in this blog that has not been accurately noted or recognized, please let me know and I will adjust the citation when presented with details. If you are interested in using intellectual property from this blog, please contact This blog does not accept cash or paid topic insertions. However, we will consider accepting free products and other forms of compensation. The compensation received will not influence content. All advertising is in the form of advertisements generated by a third party ad network. We do not have control over the products advertised. The views and opinions expressed are those of Jane M. Mason or the associates of WPD LLC. We only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, other representation should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. This policy has been adapted from For your own policy, go to

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