Thursday, August 23, 2007

Said Spider to the Hummingbird

While it is a documented fact that everything is larger in Texas, some things in neighboring Louisiana are also large.

For example, take the Golden Silk Spider.

Picking up my new hawk from his breeder a few weeks ago, I spotted one sitting in her characteristically large web strung between two hawk rearing pens. These are familiar spiders to us, since they are common in the woods were we hunt and tend to erect their nets precisely at the height of the human face.

Having one of these things crawl down your back is no fun. Knowing that the bite is not severe or lasting (I've been bitten a few times) does very little to make the experience of brushing them off any less exciting.

Golden Silk Spiders are capable of catching just about anything up to their own size. My kids and I have fed them all sorts of small critters in the backyard---short of anything with a backbone. They seem to have huge appetites.

There are records of these orb weavers eating small birds, especially hummingbirds. I would not have put it past them, but until this day had not seen such a thing myself. Here is a poor picture of it, but maybe you can make out the Ruby-throated hummer struggling to free herself from the spider's web?

(spider on left, hummer on right)

My friend Jenn quickly grabbed a ladder and plucked the bird from the web unharmed. Because we didn't know how long it might have been in there, Jenn offered the tiny bird a drink from the sugar feeder. The hummer drank eagerly, and after a minute or two, buzzed away across the lawn.

1 comment:

Rebecca K. O'Connor said...

Have you seen the photos (and there are several different incidents) of mantises eating hummers??

I count myself lucky on a daily basis that there are no predatory insects my size...