Monday, February 16, 2009

Egg & Nest by Rosamund Purcell, Lennea S. Hall, and Rene Corado

"Stunning" is the best word I can muster for the photographs of eggs, nests, and specimens in the big photo book Egg & Nest by Rosamund Purcell, Lennea S. Hall, and Rene Corado. I never realized how varied and colorful eggs could be and the diversity of nest architecture. Nor did I know how much can be gleaned from the study of these items by oologists (ō-ä-lə-jists) and nidologists (nī-dol-lə-jists).

Rosamund Purcell is the photographer. She was given access to the extensive collection of the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology in Camarilllo, California, a museum with an interesting story itself. The WFVZ was begun as a private collection and kept expanding as its founder Ed Harrison bought up collections of eggs and nests from amateur naturalists and institutions that wanted to distance themselves from the now regulated hobby of field collection.

My favorite photo might be the tinamou eggs on page 140. They look like green, blue, and purple polished stones. I also like the emu eggs on page 139, which look like glittery Easter eggs. In fact, I am smitten with most of the egg photos. The saddest photos may be all of the extinct birds.

You almost need to sit at a table to browse through the beautiful photographs in Egg & Nest as the book is a little heavy. Take time to gaze at the weaving of sticks and straw in the nests and the speckled patterns on the eggs. You may be inspired to look a little more carefully when you take your next walk in the woods.

Purcell, Rosamund. Egg & Nest. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008. ISBN 9780674031722

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