I knew that some birds collect spiderwebs for the cushioning and great tensile strength those give their nestbuilding.
I knew that many songbirds with a failing nest, i.e. where none of their young in the spring survive, will mate again and raise a second set of young in the summer. And so starting last week I started noticing the occasional finch here and there acting as if it hadn’t quite nailed this landing thing yet–and I’ve been watching one yesterday and today doing feed-me begging that females do when choosing a mate and new fledglings till their parents start turning away from them. I’m assuming, given the date, it was a fledgling bugging her dad.
What I hadn’t quite put together was that the number of spiderwebs on my floor-to-ceiling glass on one and a half sides of this room just explodes in tandem with when those birds need that resource: in the early spring, the sides of the windows are always suddenly quite covered and everyone from Bewick’s wrens to chickadees to finches want a piece of it. Then when nesting seemed to have settled in in earnest this year (instead of two flirting Bewick’s wrens there was only ever one seen at a time, the other clearly minding the eggs) I cleaned the windows. Just like I do every year, only for the first time I was paying attention to the timing of all this.
They stayed clean.
And then suddenly all at once about a month ago the view out was looking like it was dressed for Halloween again. I resisted the strong temptation to clear it out immediately.
There are not as many young as in the spring, but they’re there. The scrub jay knows it, too–he’s suddenly testing to see if I’m still on his case, trying again to scare them into a collision for an easy meal and has to be reminded he’s no longer welcome here now that he’s learned to mimic the hawk’s hunting.
A bird in the squeezing talons of the Cooper’s hawk simply stops breathing. With a crow-beaked scrub jay? Brutal, inept, stumbling stabbing for as long as it takes as the smaller bird struggles and suffers. The hawk has no other menu. The jay certainly does.
But it speaks the language of territory and this territory is mine and it sees me. OUT. I open the door and it doesn’t even try for the fence line, it’s over it and away. This week, though, with me spending a lot of time sick in bed, I’ve simply let the feeder go empty several times and let the flocks disperse. Easiest way to manage it.
I filled the feeder today and was up to watching the birds awhile.
It’s about time to start cleaning those leftover cobwebs. They’ve served their purpose. Give me a few more days.
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