LORI DUNN SCRATCHBOARD ART
promoting conservation through artistic efforts
20 x 10
During the summer months I like to get out in my kayak whenever possible. One of the advantages of a kayak is being able to cruise through shallow marshes. The ability to get close to the emergent vegetation near the shoreline allows a glimpse into this unique ecosystem - a place utilized by both aquatic and terrestrial forms of life for reproduction, shelter and food.
One of the most engaging creatures I often come across is the marsh wren (Cistothorus palustris). These tiny songbirds are often hiding low among cattail and bulrush and usually are not apparent until one hears their chatter-like song or the rustle of some dry reeds as they flit about.
Male marsh wrens are responsible for building nests in the cattails and spend much of their time singing in defense of their territories. Males will often breed with two or more females and can build up to 20 or more dummy nests. Tenacious males will even go so far as to puncture the eggs of other species of birds nesting within their territory.
I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of finding one of these nearly invisible birds among the reeds, marveling at their ability to straddle over the water by grasping an available stalk with each leg extended outward. Within the artwork I wanted to capture this narrative with a mating pair in spring. Sitting among the dried, bent cattails from the previous season, the female scouts out a potential nest below, while the male has chosen a higher location to shout out his territorial song.