You know your interest in birds has blossomed from passing to passion when you realize that you’re even enamored of avian artifacts from their abodes to their ovums. Yet, your aviphilia need not be avid for you to enjoy Egg & Nest, an absolutely gorgeous work by Rosamond Purcell, Linnea S. Hall, and René Corado.
This book makes a powerful impression. In photographer Purcell’s deft presentation, eggs are iconic. Unadorned, they amaze. From great, glossy tinamou eggs to nearly pyrimidal plover eggs to the versicolor speckled masterpieces layed by emus, this book is a feast for the eyes. A parade of alluring ovoids, enormous to infinitesimal, declares the multifarious, majestic inevitiability of existence. Yet at the same time, images of deformed and destroyed eggs remind us of life’s precarious fragility.
The first Jurassic Park tells us that “life will out” but birds teach us this lesson every day. Wren nests in rusted cans and hummingbird pockets in pipes or affixed to wires establish emphatically that the birds will go on with their business despite our best efforts. Just as with the eggs, the array of achitecture presented here is impressive. Of course we’re offered examples of the superior craftsmanship of exemplars like weavers, tailorbirds, and malimbes. But some may find the chromatic cacophony of oriole apartments or the simplistic scrapes of boobies just as arresting.
Egg & Nest may appear at first, or even second glance to be merely a photo book but, in this case, the prose is equal to the portraiture. Hall and Corado tackle tough topics like “egging” and the value of scientific collections while skillfully interweaving insights into science and aesthetics. And with every new page, a fresh wonder appears, here a drawerful of hummingbird study skins, there a clutch of Bohemian Waxwing eggs evocative of blueberry pancakes.
Egg & Nest is a beautifully designed, intelligently presented work. Reverent of life yet unsentimental, there may not be a live bird in the book but I believe that birders and basically anyone else interested in the eternal mysteries of existence will find it fascinating.