Chickadee in a spider’s web

One day while kayaking with a friend, I saw something I never imagined to see. A Chestnut-backed Chickadee with its wind stuck in a spider’s web. There were actually many of these thick spiderwebs around, and several chickadees, but only one that I saw with its wing enmeshed in a web. I took some photographs from my kayak before beaching on the shore to try and free the poor thing, but it was a ways back in some very thick trees.

I searched for a way in, an approach, but before I could find one it freed itself. It had been stuck there in the web for at least a few minutes however, straining against those gossamer strands.

The Chickadee with its wing stuck in the web

It was a cold, gray day. The light was dim. There was no real reason for me to head out and explore, except that I knew there might be something out there that I had never seen before (that and it always feels good to be moving around outdoors). Little did I imagine that it would be something so macabre.

So much larger than the frail strands of the spider's web, yet it sits there trapped

I’d seen specials about spiders in other parts of the world that actually have captured and eaten birds. That sounded so remote and far away though, reserved for those “exotic” locals. It didn’t seem a part of my normal world, although I don’t think that these spiders (they were rather tiny) were really equipped to eat prey such as this small feathered flyer. It seemed that in such a case, letting nature take its course would have been the tragedy, since if it hadn’t escaped, it might have been doomed to a slow death of thirst (unless some enterprising predator came along… perhaps it does all balance out).

Trying to pull away from the sticky strands

Looking to see what has it so firmly in its grasp, its view is blocked by its own wing

About Galen Leeds Photography

Nature and wildlife photographer, exploring the world on his feet and from his kayak. Among other genres, he is one of the leading kayak photographers in Northern California. To learn more about him, visit him on his website-
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13 Responses to Chickadee in a spider’s web

  1. Vicki says:

    I’m sure happy it was able to free itself..

  2. I am glad you are not one of those photographers that just let’s nature do it’s thing.

  3. lylekrahn says:

    That surprised me.

  4. What drama! I have saved big bumble bees from that fate, but never saw a bird trapped. Your camera is always at the ready.

  5. dogear6 says:

    I never would have dreamt a bird would get caught like that. I was taking pictures of butterflies & moths though and something got caught and by a corn spider. The bundle kept moving, but I’m not sure if whatever was caught was still alive or if the spider was feeding.


    • It just helps to show how delicate those little birds can be, if they are small enough to get caught in a spider’s web. Some spiders wrap their prey up alive, without bothering to kill them first. It’s possible it was dinner just waiting to be served. I don’t know corn spiders though, so I can’t hazard a true guess

  6. janechese says:

    Massive webs! Even though I sometimes let nature take its course and not interfere, I would have responded by going to the rescue too.I just love chickadees. Good that it got away on it’s own. Ha! Maybe it thought you were the spider coming for the meal and gave one huge effort to get away.Nice to see your posts again, Galen.

    • Chickadees are fantastic. I imagine I was a little scarier looking to it than a spider, which can actually be bird food, so its very possible that just my presence gave it that extra bit it needed to free itself

  7. wow. did you get it out in the end, what a poor bird.

  8. ingrid says:

    Great illustration of a difficult scenario! Coming from a wildlife rehabilitation background, like you, Galen, I wouldn’t have been able to help myself in a situation like this. As you say, this is not a situation of true predator/prey interaction. Generally speaking, my response to “nature taking its course” is that we have so altered “nature” by our very presence, many injuries occur because of our actions or our technologies. One thing people should be aware of is that those mock spider webs you see in gardens around Halloween can be devastating traps for birds. That time of year, we accessioned birds with plumage hopelessly stuck to those artificial threads.

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