Happy Mother’s Day!

Wild turkey- Benson House, Harvard Forest, 5/11/08. Watercolor on Canson drawing paper, 111lb. Drawn and painted through a scope.
I thought this might be appropriate- a very maternal wild turkey on a nest, right outside the house. She decided we could provide a good foundation for her family, literally. The nest is on the ground right next to the wall, with arching raspberry canes and a discarded roll of hog-pen wire over it. I discovered it when I stepped out back to look at some warblers and inadvertently got a little too close. With a hiss, the turkey vacated and stalked off to the woods, possibly to lure me away from her clutch of big, buffy-tan and speckled eggs. An even dozen.

I’ve been drawing in the woods for the last few days, hauling clunky gear with me- a big wooden easel, a large drawing board, portfolio of papers, shoulder bag and backpack. Lots of junk. I think she’s gotten used to me walking back and forth past her nest and has learned to sit tight. I try not to look directly at her. She’s relaxed a bit. I’m harmless.

Today I decided to draw and paint her alongside the house where she could keep her eye on me. I went a comfortable distance away and set up my camp stool and a scope (borrowed, thanks Barry!) and waited until she’d stopped looking tense. That’s when I began looking through the glass, sketchbook on my lap, pencil in hand, followed by a brush. Eventually she looked bored and sleepy, but she never took her eyes off me. She’s a good mom.

Yellow rumped female warbler gathering nesting material from a turkey’s nest. Watercolor on Canson drawing paper. Drawn through binoculars. 5/11/08
Another good mother in the neighborhood is a yellow-rumped (myrtle) warbler, who has been gathering stray feathers a few feet away from the turkey nest where the wind has carried them. She’s flying back and forth from the raspberry patch to the woods, feathering her nest with genuine turkey down. There’s a lot of serious activity going on around here in that department, lots of mothers-to-be, babies soon to follow (can’t wait!). It’s funny to see a hawk carrying sticks in her feet, or a hummingbird with puffs of spider web in her slender bill. They’re just great mothers. Happy Day, all you moms out there!

10 thoughts on “Happy Mother’s Day!

  1. Janet Wilkins says:

    Turkeys were “re-introduced” to my area some years back, now they’re EVERYWHERE! But, I’ve never had the chance to see one on her nest. Thanks for that.

    Your sketches are beautiful as always. Keep collecting that reference material … spring is flashing by at lightspeed!

  2. Troy Mullens says:

    You have inspired me to get back to drawing, sketching and pen and ink.
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    I ordered me a new nature journal today and am looking forward to it.

    thanks for sharing your work.

    We have posted:
    Alaska’s Haul Road – The Dalton Highway.
    A 414 mile gravel road,
    to the Arctic Ocean

    Come join us for the trip,
    Troy and Martha

  3. Becky says:

    Wonderful drawings — if possible, I think they’re getting even better! And what a great place in the woods. How do you find time to sleep!

  4. lavenderbay says:

    A turkey hen — how cool is that! Lovely illustrations, and a nice choice of contrasting subjects for this entry. The warbler looks very lively.
    My Mother’s Day entry featured looking for nests, too, but it probably won’t make it into any naturalism books anytime soon.

  5. wrjones says:

    Every time I come here and see your beautiful drawings my heart aches with envy. I saw three wild turkeys for the first time this year when I was painting in northern California. It is so neat to see wildlife in natural habitat.

  6. gretchen says:

    Not sure how blog comments work but I wanted to make sure that you knew that I left a note of thanks on your previous post (re: my question about sketchbooks)!. I am slowly working my way through your archives ….your work is absolutely brilliant! I was delighted to read your post from last October when you traveled to NH-ironically, Sutton is my home! One mile of woods as the crow flies separates Cindy House and myself- the very same woods I wander daily with my dog, taking and making notes and photos for my journals. I hope you also had a chance to familiarize yourself with David Carroll’s nature illustrations and works (alias the Swamp Walker aka the Turtle Man) when you were here? We are fortunate to have SO much inspiration here in such a tiny little town! I’m so glad you were able to experience it!
    Your nesting turkey sketch is truly amazing- I’ve lived here almost all my life and have never seen a turkey nest, let alone a hen on one!
    thanks SO much for sharing your world, gretchen

  7. zeladoniac says:

    How nice to hear from a Suttonite, or Suttonian-you really do have a creative crew up there in NH! I’ve heard about the Turtle Man and I’ll have to check him out. Thanks for the comments, hope you see some things you like here.

    WR- it’s great to see wildlife in its homeplace. Turkeys are wonderful, indeed!

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