Outdoor art project celebrates the Great Blue Heron

If you've ever wondered what a human-scale bird's nest looks like, you can find out at Village Green Park in the Issaquah Highlands this weekend.

If you’ve ever wondered what a human-scale bird’s nest looks like, you can find out at Village Green Park in the Issaquah Highlands this weekend.

On Monday, environmental artist Karen White, director of the education program for Issaquah’s artEAST, began building human-scale nests with volunteers from the Highlands Youth Advisory Board and other youths in the area. Four of the nests were built and will stay in place to be viewed on Highlands Day, July 20.

This is the first time the project has been undertaken in the third year of artEAST’s Rookery Project, which celebrates the Great Blue Heron.

artEAST Executive Director Karen Abel said the organization had envisioned this two years ago and was thrilled to learn White had built these nests before.

Sticks were collected from all over the Highlands since February, mostly branch cuttings from red twig dogwood, alder and maple. White said the sticks needed to be smooth to work with and bend.

It’s just like weaving, White told the volunteers — over/under/over/under. Also, the center has to be strong to support the walls, or bowl. To check their work, White had the volunteers lift the nest from time to time. If any twigs fell out, they filled in the gaps. They also employed what she called “tree hugging,” where they pushed the nest together from all sides to keep it tight.

“It’s like looking at parts of nature we don’t see,” White said, adding she hoped to bring emphasis and attention to how birds have to build their nests — using only their beaks.

After Highlands Day, the nests will be moved to wetland areas to become homes for herons, osprey or whatever decides it would like a move-in ready home.

Environmental artist Karen White shows her volunteer crew how to weave the base of the nest.

As the base of the nest takes form, the volunteers begin to build up the bowl.

A smaller nest, just big enough for a toddler.

This is what a finished nest looks like. Environmental artist Karen White brought this one with her as an example.