Saturday, November 18, 2006

A brief encounter with a weaver bird

The weaver bird. What a fascinating animal. Yesterday, while reading an article in the Economist magazine (which I recently discovered has some distribution in these parts), I noticed that one of these birds had landed on my patio chair. The chair is one of those nylon camping chairs, and is dark (or Duke) blue. The bird was similar to the one pictured, quite pretty to look at.

Weaver birds seem to spend essentially every waking moment tirelessly building and remodeling their nest. This one, it seemed, was foraging for building supplies.

I marveled at how many bones he must have in his neck, or rather how accommodating those bones must be, for his head could achieve impossible angles as he looked around.

Now to the fascinating part. After scanning the totality of my back porch and lawn, the bird darted directly toward the sliding glass door with such swiftness that I thought he would disembowel himself on it (for I have seen this happen). At the last instant, he threw back his ultra-limber neck and did a midair about-face. All I heard was a tiny click on the glass, and suddenly the bird was back on the chair.

Faintly in his beak, I saw what looked like a 2cm thread, a small, thin blade of grass. With that tiny piece of vegetation, he darted off. Curious, I stepped toward the glass door. To my surprise, I had been observing the bird through a delicate spider web, and in the web were a few tiny bugs and some debris, with a small interruption in the web where the bird had extracted his small discovery.

That small filament, as I type, is no doubt woven into the wall of one of the nests I see high in the pine trees outside of the dining room window from which I type.



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