Cornell was a keen amateur naturalist and bird-watcher. He began using engravings and cut-out pictures of birds, as well as stuffed birds, from 1942. For Cornell, birds were a symbol of heaven and freedom, their flight path linking heaven and earth. The artist made a number of 'habitats', such as this work, in the 1940s and 1950s, using natural materials collected on walks in the woods and fields of Long Island. The box recalls the man-made environments in museums, designed to recreate slices of nature and used for educational purposes.