I decided that the best way to prevent continual mucking about in the background was to carve it all out. So I did. From this point on the only printable surface on the block is bird and wire.
I wanted some highlights in the bird's wings, something a little warmer. I didn't want this color to influence the face, though, so I wiped it out before printing.
One thing I neglected to mention at the beginning of this piece is that it represents my first return to the printing on the thinner Awagami kozo paper since I got my press. Because I would be working by hand at the demo location I wanted something I could manage with a baren and spoon... and the 250# BFK Rives that I have been using was not going to work. The thinner paper was a little trickier to manage in the press at first, but once I got the feel for it I didn't have any problems. And I didn't tear anything, which would sometimes happen with a too-vigorous application of spoon pressure when hand printing.
Overall a satisfying experiment, even if it turned out to be a bigger deal than intended. (And I got a good set of step-by-step prints and an edition of 10 or 12 out of the effort, too!)