Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Silent Scream

Often, there's a specific event that tilts someone from "enthusiast" to "fanatic." My obsession with the living things in the Not-So-Big Woods sprang from one small event that occurred just over a year ago.

It was gorgeous spring day on April 11, 2009. The sun was shining, and the wind was stirring the leaves gently. Awesome Husband was toiling under the deck, attaching it to the house (a step the previous owner had overlooked, preferring instead to lean it against the house and pound a few nails randomly here and there). My job was to stay nearby and fetch tools, nails, large pieces of lumber, and bandages as necessary.

I waited for orders in a swinging chair in the backyard, watching the birds and enjoying the sound of their wings as they flew between the trees and a thick layer of sunflower seeds laid out on the deck railing. A loud flutter grabbed my attention: a bird was very close. In fact, it had landed on the canvas back of my swing. I went statue-still. Inside, of course, I was squealing "THERE'S A BIRD ON MY CHAIR!!"

Then my eyes widened beyond their previously known boundaries: the bird had dropped down to my shoulder. "It's on my shoulder!!!" I didn't scream. "DID YOU HEAR ME?" (of course you didn't, I didn't make a sound) "THE BIRD IS ON MY SHOULDER!!"

Then it made a leap to the top of my head. I could feel the little claws digging in. I gritted my teeth as the sharp beak pecked through my hair. Inside, I alternated between an internal "OW!" and "THERE'S A BIRD ON MY HEAD? WHERE ARE MY WITNESSES??" Then the bird went still up there. The pain went away, and I was still left to the absolute joy of having a wild bird perched on my head. The bliss ebbed a bit as it bent down and painfully wrenched a few hairs from my head ("OUCH!!") and flew away. I was finally able to see it as it departed: a tufted titmouse, happily taking home some padding for the nest.

Fast forward about one year. I've just had a major haircut. At my request, the stylist collected all of my leftover hair so I could take it home and stuff it into an old suet box. I desperately hope that this is last year's bird, getting a big beakful of nest liner to take back home.

15 comments:

  1. Love it! They're such brazen little birds. And what a great idea about collecting your hair so you could provide it for them. I'm sure they appreciate it much.

    ReplyDelete
  2. falltoclimb: Thanks! It's one of my favorites.

    Jason, I know I prefer it to having hairs ripped out of my head one by one. It makes for a great story, but still hurt a day later.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a great story! Every time I fill the feeders here the chickadees wait impatiently in the shrubs for me to leave. They're very bold, and several times I've experimenting with standing stock still, one hand extended with some seed on the palm, to see if I could convince one to perch on my hand. Alas, no luck.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Joy, what a wonderful encounter and wonderful story. I love that you collected hair for nesting material after your last hair cut. This is totally cool all round!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love tufted titmice - such pretty little birds. But what a story! Up close and personal, indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I just love this story! I would have been yelling as loud as I could while whispering if it were me ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Rebecca, I keep trying to get the chickadees to calm down when I'm around, but they're still very skittish. Maybe someday....

    Wren, I'm saving everything from my comb, for next year.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What awonderful encounter! Once when the hummingbirds were so thick at the feeders during fall migration that they sounded like bees and seemed so thirsty that not a port on the feeder was empty, I put my finger up to the feeder and one exhausted little bird sat on it and stayed while it drank for a while. I can still feel those tiny feet.
    You tell a great story! I'm glad I stopped by.
    -Kay

    ReplyDelete
  9. oh my goodness this is such a great story! Thank you for sharing about your hair pecking titmouse.

    ReplyDelete
  10. That's a fantastic story! Since the bird approached you from behind, maybe he didn't realize you were a big bad human. Maybe he thought you were some docile type of animal, or a patch of yellow grass. Amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a great way to spark your obsession with the nature in your woods! I can just picture the scene from your description.

    I wonder if the masses of hair that some dogs and cats shed so abundantly could be collected and offered to birds as well? Very cool.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Amber, absolutely yes. The box was previously filled with poofs of cat hair, as well as hair from my dog and the neighbor's dogs. The next-door-dogs must have been wondering why, when they came over on their daily treat-mooching rounds, I was suddenly locking them in on my gated porch and force-brushing them before I gave them snackies.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh my gosh, what a story. I love watching the little titmice snagging nesting material from my hanging baskets -- but human hair from a human head?!!! I have a lot of hair -- I'm going to have to start paying more attention. I think it is wonderful that you used a suet container to store hair bits -- I'm definitely going to do that now. I even have one ready to go! I'm adding you to my blog list -- you are such a kindred spirit!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I wonder if my short-haired dogs (beagles) would mind if I vacuumed them? :-)

    ReplyDelete