Twitterpating and Nest Hair Pulling!
A day that includes "twitterpating" and "nest
hair pulling" is a birding day to remember. Roxie,
my dog, and I left the house at 7:15 a.m. to "find" some
migrating warblers, and to hone my listening skills (such
as they are) for Saturdays census day.
We were in the woods and overgrown fields along Robinson
Lane in Fishkill Plains, and quickly compiled a list
of almost 30 birds. How exciting to see my first Oriole
and Rose-breasted Grosbeak of the year. The warblers
were scarce, but we had lots of Yellow-rumps, a Common
Yellowthroat, and some Yellows and Prairies. On the way
out of the woods, a Tufted Titmouse began singing. My
friend and mentor of 18 years, Helen Andrews, had taught
me long ago how to imitate a Titmouse song and wait for
his response. Soon enough, the Titmouse was overhead,
frantically looking for the "singer", all the
while quivering and fluttering his little wings, his
tuft sticking straight up in the air. "Twitterpating" they
call it......always fun to observe. Little did I know
I would have an even more exciting Titmouse encounter
once we returned home!!
I worked in the garden for a while, then sat with a
cool glass of water on my patio bench adjacent to a honeysuckle
bush. Roxie was lying on the cool earth under the bush.
As I sat there, a Titmouse flew into the bush, its mate
following. Since they were only three or four feet away,
I knew as soon as they spotted me sitting there, they
would give an alarm chip and scurry out. I was mistaken.
They not only lingered, but seemed very interested in
me and the dog. Remembering the fact that Titmice line
their nests with animal hair or fur, I froze while I
waited for her to fly down to Roxies back. The
next thing I knew, this little bird fluttered in my face,
flew over my head and landed 6 inches behind me on the
brick siding of the house. I could feel the wind from
her wings. Four times she flew back and forth from the
bush to the brick behind my head, her wings brushing
my hair each time. The fifth time I felt her little feet
on my head. She started gently pecking on the top of
my head and then I felt some hairs being pulled. She
remained for a few more seconds, then flew off, her mate
joining her from the bush....and it was over! I was so
astonished that I sat frozen, completely enthralled,
not believing what had just occurred. I have no idea
how many hairs she pulled from my head, but Elaine Andersen
is calling me "baldy".
Do birds carry little parasites, including ticks, that
would not think twice about changing hosts? Needless
to say, a shower and shampoo were in order!
Ive witnessed several Titmice nests during the
years of monitoring my bluebird trail. The nest is a
work of art.....mosses, leaves and hair woven into a
soft, downy haven for the babies. What a blessing for
me to realize that my hair will be in one of those nests.
Ah, the stuff of life!
P.S. Barbara Mansell sent this in: Nick, Barbara
Mansell's son, fell asleep on the back deck on Sunday
afternoon, May 5 and woke to find a titmouse tugging
at his hair for nest material. He thought it was great.
Over Dutchess, May