Last year, just about this time, I was getting ready to hang a show at the River Arts Center in Sauk-Praire. One of the pieces I decided to do was an egg chart of sorts – Eggs of the Nesting Birds of the Lower Wisconsin River Valley. I have a fabulous field guide called A Guide to the Nests, Eggs and Nestlings of North America by Paul J. Baicich and Colin J. O. Harrison. So I thumbed through that casually and wrote down all the species I thought would be found in this particular area. What a surprise to discover the result was 142 species. It seemed a completely overwhelming task to represent such a large number of eggs. So I decided to consult another reference – Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Wisconsin. Surely, that would pare down the numbers. Again, thumbing through the book, page by page. But I had a strategy this time. I would record only the birds whose nesting range fell within a small portion of the accompanying map.

Bad Idea. What I actually did was add another 40 species to my once giant list. Now a colossal undertaking. But I had so much time invested in the piece already, I decided to give it a try. Here’s the final outcome:

A key is placed adjacent to the piece so that viewers can identify each of the 187 eggs illustrated.

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