How Netted Birds Can Actually Help Conservation
For the sake of science, these birds are gently captured, photographed, and released unharmed.
Jogging in Boston 11 years ago, artist Todd Forsgren spied the remains of a black-crowned night heron entangled in a chain-link fence. Struck by the contrast of the bird’s silhouette against the gridlike wires, he suddenly envisioned a unique way to photograph birds.
“Both of my parents are birders,” Forsgren says. “My earliest memory of art is looking through the works of John James Audubon and Roger Tory Peterson.” Inspired by the night heron, Forsgren set out to create a series of photographs that integrated Audubon’s famously flamboyant illustrations with Peterson’s pragmatic field-guide images.
Working closely with ornithological researchers, Forsgren traveled across the Americas from 2006 to 2014, making portraits of birds temporarily caught in mist nets—finely woven nylon nets hung between