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The Art Gallery of Alberta respectfully acknowledges that we are located on Treaty 6 Territory, the traditional land of diverse Indigenous peoples including the Cree, Nitsitapi/Blackfoot, Métis, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, Ojibway/Saulteaux/Anishinaabe. We also acknowledge all of the Indigenous, Inuit and Métis peoples who make Alberta their home today.

Art Activity: Bird Loot Nest Helper

Create an artwork that will assist returning birds to create the nest of their dreams!

Featured Artist 

Our children’s gallery exhibition Animal Architects explores the designed structures of insects, mammals and birds and the evolution of these structures over time and space. Learn more about the exhibition and artist Jonathan Luckhurst and his thoughts on respecting our environment and nature yet continuing to explore technological and scientific realms. Watch the full interview here: #AGAlive: Animal Architects with Jonathan Luckhurst.  

Watch how Animal Architects came together in the Children’s Gallery space here.

The Scavenger Hunt 

The aim of this project is to tread lightly on our planet so all materials are found or repurposed. 

To begin, embark on an outdoor adventure and gather some natural objects to assist in your design. Try to get a handful of at least two different varieties from each of the following categories and remember to only gather objects that have fallen or are on the ground already. 

  • Grasses 
  • Small twigs and sticks 
  • Straw 
  • Leaves 
  • Native plants  
  • Plant fluff  
  • Moss 
  • Animal fur 
  • Pine needles 
  • Seed pods 
  • Dry flower heads 
  • 4 sturdy sticks - 1-2 cm (0.5 in) diameter and 30-40 cm (12-14 in) long 

From around your home, gather the following: 

  • Jute or yarn cut into two – 1 m (36 in) pieces 
  • Jute or yarn cut to one 60 cm (24 in)  
  • Ribbon or coloured yarn four - 30 cm (12 in) pieces 
  • Scissors 

IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT USE - these items can be harmful to birds:

Human hair: Human hair is a triple threat for birds: It is long, thin, and strong. These characteristics can be a deadly combination, allowing the hair to easily ensnare a bird’s leg or wing and sever it.  

Yarn or string: Long strands of yarn and string can wrap around a bird. Hatchlings are particularly susceptible to such entanglements. Yarn in a nest can get caught around a baby bird and cut off circulation as it grows. 

Dryer lint: Although it is popular to put out and seems like the perfect lining for a nest, dryer lint quickly loses its fluffiness and structure when wet. Dryer lint is unsustainable in the rain, crumbling and leaving holes in an otherwise solid nest. 

Resource: Langas, A., & 22, A. (2019, April 23). What nesting materials are safe for birds? Retrieved March 20, 2021, from https://www.audubon.org/news/what-nesting-materials-are-safe-birds 

 

The Process:

  1. Overlap your sticks to create a frame and make sure there is extra stick that overhangs at the edges for birds to perch. You can arrange sticks as a square or start with a square and bring two overhanging ends together to meet and create a triangle.  

  2. Cut your ribbon or coloured yarn into 30 cm (12 in) pieces. Wrap ribbon in an X pattern where the sticks overlap to secure them - essentially an X of ribbon around the X where the sticks meet. Make sure you wrap both crooks of the X (see video for more details). Once wrapped, tie a knot to secure. Repeat on all 4 X’s and trim extra, long ends. 

  3. Cut jute or yarn into two - 1 m (36 in) pieces. Start at the top of your square and tie one end of the string to the left vertical stick. Take one piece and stretch the yarn horizontally to meet the right vertical stick and wrap it once around the stick (you can also tie a knot here to better secure the yarn). Ensure the yarn is stretched tight and not saggy. Now stretch the yarn back to the left stick, wrap the string around the stick and tie a knot if you choose. Repeat back to the right and back again to the left in a zig-zag-like pattern until you reach the bottom of the square and tie off the end to your vertical stick with a knot.  

  4. With your second piece of 1m yarn repeat this process along the horizontal, top and bottom sticks, this time weaving the yarn over and under your horizontal yarn as you stretch the yarn top to bottom. When your weaving is complete and tied off, you will have a “net” of yarn on your frame.  

  5. Time for your scavenger hunt materials! If your items are longer than 10 cm like grasses or sticks, cut or snap them into shorter lengths first. Choose a nest building material from your scavenger hunt and weave it into a section of your “net”.  Repeat with a different item, and then another until your woven “net” is stuffed full of nest-making materials! 

TIP: Try making a pattern with your materials like a patchwork quilt. Consider colours and textures that stand out next to one another. 

  1. To make your frame hanger, take your 60 cm (24 in) piece of jute or yarn and tie one end with a knot to the inside corner of the top of your frame tie the other end to the other side of the top of your frame. Adjusting how long you want the string/hanger to be before you tie off the second knot.  

  2. Hang outside on a tree for the birds to find! 

Art Vocabulary

Weaving: to form (cloth) by interlacing strands (as of yarn) 

Frame: a rigid structure that surrounds or encloses something such as a picture, door or window. 

Pattern: created by repeating elements to communicate a sense of balance, harmony, contrast, rhythm or movement. Two basic types are natural pattern and manmade pattern. Both natural and man-made patterns can be regular or irregular, organic or geometric, structural or decorative, positive or negative and repeating or random.

Hours

Monday: closed
Tuesday: closed
Wednesday: 11am-5pm
Thursday: 11am-7pm
Friday: 11am-5pm
Saturday: 11am-5pm
Sunday: 11am-5pm

Admission

AGA members
FREE
Youth 0-17
FREE
Alberta students 18+
FREE
Out-of-province students
$10
General admission
$14
Seniors 65+
$10

Location

2 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T5J 2C1

780.422.6223
info@youraga.ca

Directions

The Art Gallery of Alberta respectfully acknowledges that we are located on Treaty 6 Territory, the traditional land of diverse Indigenous peoples including the Cree, Nitsitapi/Blackfoot, Métis, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, Ojibway/Saulteaux/Anishinaabe. We also acknowledge all of the Indigenous, Inuit and Métis peoples who make Alberta their home today.