Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book of the Week: Birds and Their Nests

Have you ever been out and about, enjoying the beauty of nature, looked up in a tree, noticed a bird's nest, and wondered what species of bird made the nest? If so, and if you happen to live in Ohio, or somewhere close to it, we've got the book for you: Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio (1886), v.1-2, text by Howard Jones and illustrations by a variety of artists, including Miss Genevieve Estelle Jones, Miss Eliza J. Schulze, Mrs. N. E. Jones, Miss Nellie D. Jacob, Miss Josephine Klippart and Miss Kate Gephart. What really struck us about this book was the charming nature of the illustrations. And after reading the preface, it became quite clear that obtaining these illustrations for the work was no easy task.

In 1877, Genevieve Jones decided to create a series of plates for a publication depicting the nests and eggs of Ohio birds. She enlisted the help of close friend Eliza Schulze, and together the two women, amateur artists but having no formal training, embarked on the
venture. To make matters more complicated, the plates themselves needed to be completed as lithographs so that they could be printed for mass production - a method that neither lady was familiar with. However, after many months of practice, Miss Jones and Miss Schulze produced plates 1-3, and these, along with the accompanying text by Howard Jones, were sent to publication in 1879. Favorably received, the ladies continued their partnership.

Unfortunately, on August 17th, 1879, Genevieve Jones died of typhoid fever. Desiring to continue the work, Miss Schulze enlisted the help of Genevieve's mother, Mrs. N. E. Jones. Eventually, Miss Schulze relinquished all of her interests in the title to Mrs. Jones. Determined to move forward, Mrs. Jones undertook the responsibility for all of the illustrations herself, eventually employing three additional artists, Miss Nellie D. Jacob, Miss Josephine Klippart, and Miss Kate Gephart. Despite all the hardships encountered over the life of this publication, the authors and artists were thankful and proud of the work, remarking,

"Aside from the entertainment and instruction accompanying the study of birds in their homes, and the delineation of their various styles of architecture, it has been a great pleasure to us to continue to completion an undertaking so unfortunately interrupted at almost its very beginning. It has also been a satisfaction to us to know that, however poor our efforts, we were breaking new ground in a field, which, with the cultivation of time, will yield a rich and beautiful harvest."

For our post, we're featuring a few of the nest illustrations found in this title, identifying them for the bird species to which they correlate. However, we'll leave the last picture unidentified. Can you tell which bird species made the nest below (of course, you could always just check in the book, but where's the fun in that)? Let us know what species you think it is via Twitter (@BioDivLibrary), Facebook, or by leaving a comment on this blog. To see all of the images from this title, visit the set in Flickr: v. 1 and v. 2.


  1. You may be interested in a book about the story behind the creation of this work that will come out next spring.

  2. Biodiversity Heritage LibraryOctober 21, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    Most definitely! Thanks for pointing us to the resource! And there's a wealth of valuable information in the post that you linked to! We were thrilled to learn more about this information work.