Goldie – Bird on a Burr
Will and I were across the road on our landing looking where we were going to store the incoming winter hay when I noticed a burdock plant. I keep my eyes open for these, they’re an unwelcome invader that crossed over the mountain and down our road in the decades we’ve been here. Burdock, dogs and sheep do not mix well – or perhaps that is the problem, they mix too easily. We fought them for years. Now we have a better way – pigs love to eat burdock. Thus the only ones left are out by the road where the pigs can’t get them.
Will with his sharper eyes noted there was a bird on the burdock plant and I pulled out my camera to try and get a photo. Then we realized something unusual as we approached – the bird didn’t fly away.
Will exclaimed that the bird was stuck. Like velcro the burdock plant’s seed pods had trapped the bird. Most likely the bird had settled on one of the plant’s branches to gather seeds. I think that perhaps it is an American Goldfinch, a granivore, looking for food. While it was eating the vile, evil Greater Burdock grabbed the bird’s foot, snagging it tightly. The more it fought, the tighter the trap. As the little bird struggled it became further entangled in more and more the burr hooks until it could no longer move. By the time I found it six burr pods with their many hooks were holding tightly onto the bird, entangled in its feathers and feet which were bleeding by then.
Will and I approached carefully and the bird stopped struggling. Probably it figured we were predators who were about to eat it. That would make it quite surprised when instead I gently and carefully disengaged the bird from the burdock and held it out in my open hand to the sky. Not risking a change of mind by me it immediately flew off across the marsh field. Fear not little bird, you’re barely a bite, more fun to watch on the winds.
Will noted that this is one of the many types of new wildlife we’ve seen since we re-opened the old pastures, converting them from the grown up forest of the last century. A diverse landscape leads to greater bio-diversity.
Outdoors: 63°F/56°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 70°F/44°F
Daily Spark: Scene at SETI where some hippy scientists working for Search for Intelligent Life decoding an alien message which types out slowly across their screen: “Thank you for your invitation to visit your planet. We think you are groovy, crunchy and good with garlic.”
Wow, lucky little bird that it was you that found it! And THAT you found it. Next time we have pigs I know what to do with our burrs before they turn my horses into unicorns!
You are right–it was a goldfinch. Beautiful tiny birds. Thank you for a lovely blog post.
What a beautiful story. Thank you!
Those poor little goldfinch are always getting into trouble. I had one show up at the feeder with a redwood cone stick to her leg. Sure made it easy to spot Peg. She sported that cone around for a good month till one day she lived up to her name. Cool thing was she showed up the following year. Well, at least a one legged goldfinch showed up. Tuff little buggers!
Thanks for extending the life of one great little bird.