To all in-tents and purposes
Sunday October 26th 2014, 7:21 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

The bottom photo here: note that there are two different sizes and thicknesses of birdnetting there. That’s where they meet.

The side of the house cuts off most of my view of the tomato cage (and cage it is) unless I get up from here and walk to the far side of the room to look across thataway.

But one small finch trying to perch on the near edge of it caught my peripheral vision and my attention: birds don’t usually land there. It shifted over to the metal pole bordering the thing where its feet could at least grip far more easily than directly on the netting but it would not leave.

Turned out (when I got to the window) there were three or four more–this was highly unusual–and they were on the pop-up, which has no such metal resting spots.

When I had the flu, the tomatoes got their second wind and started blooming and producing all over again: that one slug I’d killed must have been devouring every flower for over a month. But since I wasn’t paying much attention while I was sick in bed, the stalks grew outside the netting and there was no good way to scoot the flowers safely back inside without risking breaking them off.

I had that pop-up birdnetting tent that I had written off as a bad investment: the bottom edges could not be secured and the birds kept getting in down there and stuck. Pretty useless when the whole idea is to keep critters out.

But hey. If I leaned the thing all flattened out against those new tomatoes and their square cage, that would work.

And so I did.

Five nights into this a raccoon pulled the tent over on its head. Eating the plastic clamshell on the apple tree, falling as it broke 2/3 of the young peach tree off trying to climb it (and still not getting the peaches), pulling the tableful of clay pots down on its head–that raccoon’s had it rough here this season.

The tomatoes were left untouched. I put the tent back and the raccoon has now been leaving it alone.

But I couldn’t get it to go entirely flat again. Almost but not quite. I could only hope it wouldn’t trap anything.

House finches are a squabbly lot. They play king of the mountain, they attack and peck and keep their fellows away from the best perch or sometimes any perch on the feeder, guarding and owning it all unless a bigger bird lands. MINE! They will often chase each other around and around the base of the platform feeder despite there being plenty for all.

And yet. They flock.

This afternoon one small finch wandered in at ground level and got caught inside that unwanted sliver of space within that leaning birdnetted pop-up. She was desperate to fly out the top. Which she could not do.

Those other finches had felt compelled to leave the feeders to flock with her in her extremity. They were forsaking food at a time when the area was hawk-free to go over to where she would have the comfort of their presence close by, even when it was uncomfortable for their feet or at least difficult to hold onto after landing.

That first finch got my attention but the fact that there were others tipped me off. I went outside, sun or no sun, knowing it would just take me seconds, and I tipped that tent.

Her instinctive need to escape up was tempered by the fact that I was now towering over her and so down she went to get away from me–and at last discovered the opening at the bottom.

I have never heard finch wings so close nor so loud as she beat it out of there at the speed of predator evasion. I marveled at the sound. (I still do that. A year and a half later I’m still hearing new things with these better hearing aids and I love it.)

Of all the species of birds that come to my feeders, it is these that squabble the most over what seems such dumb stuff to me that are the ones that are the most steadfast in looking out for their peers in their moment of need.

1 Comment so far
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That last line gives me some hope for the human species!

Comment by twinsetellen 10.28.14 @ 4:30 pm

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