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Spooky Oak Bay home highlights need for bird-friendly spiderwebs

Fibrous fake webbing can injure wildlife: BC SPCA
A fan of Halloween, Oak Bay resident and municipal councillor Hazel Braithwaite goes all out in terms of yard decor. She intentionally sought out a more wildlife-friendly cobweb option. (Courtesy Hazel Braithwaite)

When Hazel and Rod Braithwaite start stringing up spooky fake cobwebs on the lawn two things invariably happen – people stop to thank them for the display while others remind them of wildlife hazards.

Each fall the BC SPCA reminds Halloween decorators that fake spiderwebs in bushes and trees can be scary for our feathered friends who get caught in the webbing.

It’s the reason Braithwaite, also a District of Oak Bay councillor, went in search of “beef netting” that provides a safe yet spooky alternative to cobwebs. Made of polyester and cotton blends, the material isn’t sticky and fibrous.

“Things can land on it and take off, it doesn’t have filaments in it, that’s the big difference,” she said.

“There was so much angst around the birds and it’s so horrible for the poor birds, especially around here we have so many teeny little birds.”

It’s not inexpensive, but comes in a big roll and can be cut down to manageable sizes, with holes added to create the webbing effect.

“The other beautiful thing is it’s reusable,” Braithwaite said.

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Each year – this is the fourth – she washes, untangles and folds the pieces up for storage until the next fall.

While she purchased a large roll years ago, she’s noticed similar items in local shops.

Braithwaite’s is among many highly decorated homes in the community. This year she’s built up to four 12-foot skeletons – there’s even a club with a Facebook page where she learned about the beef netting – and added a “new ghoul in town.”

With their daughter’s birthday being Nov. 1, Halloween has long been a favoured event for the Braithwaites., and really amped up the last few years.

“It brings joy to us, but it brings joy to everyone else as well,” Braithwaite said. “When Rod is out there putting stuff up he can’t get work done because people are stopping all the time.”

They’ve also spotted a couple of other spooktacular homes in the ’hood.

While there are quite a few, a couple of favourites stand out. A home on St. Charles Street features handmade work, including tombstones, and one on Linden Avenue where someone used mannequins dressed in black and white with a Day of the Dead theme.

“She’s really gone all out.”

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While the BC SPCA, asks folks to ditch the dangerous spiderwebs, it does have advice for anyone who finds a trapped bird. The animal welfare agency recommends gently separating or cutting the decor to free the bird. Place the animal in a well-ventilated box with a towel or padding on the bottom and bring it to a wildlife rehabilitator to check for injuries. Call 1-855-622-7722 for advice.

Send us photos or videos of the spookiest houses in your neighbourhood. Email

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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