Three years ago I posted about a bird that died at our bird feeder, with its head stuck in the food hole. That was very weird. A couple of weeks ago, in the evening as it was getting dark, Wendy looked out the window and saw a bird at the feeder with its head in the hole. She looked again a while later, and the same bird was still perched in the same position. "Is that another dead bird?" she asked.
We both watched the bird for any sign of movement. Suddenly it flapped its wings, so it was alive! But it also didn't change its position. Its head was still in the hole. We realized then that the poor thing was stuck, and we had to do something to help free it. Otherwise it would stay stuck until it died. Probably just like the bird from 3 years ago!
We went outside and tried to figure out what to do. The bird made no effort to fly away, so it was clearly stuck. I got a stick and tried to gently nudge the bird from side to side, hoping that would help. But it didn't. All that happened is that the bird flapped its wings every so often. I needed another course of action. So I went inside, got some gloves, and very gingerly took hold of the bird and tried to gently pull it out. This was terrifying, because I was afraid I was going to hurt it. But I couldn't get the bird out. It was really stuck in there. A couple of times as I held it, the bird squawked at me, at which point I immediately let go. I needed to try something else.
At this point I took the feeder off the pole it hangs on, and tried turning it this way and that, thinking that maybe a different angle would help the bird get free. But that didn't work either. I tried again to nudge it with a stick, but still no luck. Wendy was watching all of this, holding a flashlight for me, and offering suggestions and moral support. The only other thing I could think of was to remove the bottom of the feeder, which was held on by screws. I didn't think it would help, based on where the bird's head was stuck, but I couldn't think of anything else to do, and neither could Wendy.
So I set the feeder on the grass, went inside, and got a screwdriver. When I came back out, I walked up to the feeder and started to kneel down. The feeder was sitting slightly unevenly on the grass, and as I was kneeling, it suddenly lost balance, and started to tip over. Wendy gasped, and I watched in horror as the feeder seemed to tip over in slow motion.
When it hit the ground, somehow the bird popped free! It flew a foot or two off the ground, hovered for a few seconds, and then flew off above Wendy's head, at which point she screamed. I watched it fly to the very top of one of our trees. It's flight path was slightly wobbly, but only slightly, and it was able to fly to the top of the tree.
Wendy and I both breathed a huge sigh of relief! The bird was free and seemed to be mostly unharmed. We were so worried it would be badly injured, or that we wouldn't be able to free it. I'm not sure how exactly it popped free, but I'm so glad it did. I decided right then and there to throw the bird feeder away. One dead bird and almost another one was enough, so into the garbage bin it went. When we got back inside, Wendy said "That was stressful!" Yes! Yes, it was! (I'm exhausted from just typing up the story for this post.)
The next morning I got to relive a few scenes of the trapped bird, because my trail cam dutifully recorded videos of the event! It didn't get any particularly good videos, though. There's one of me nudging the bird with a stick, one of me looking at the feeder while Wendy holds the flashlight, one of me taking off my gloves to go inside and get the screwdriver, and one of me watching the bird fly away right after it got free. I was hoping it would get a video of the bird popping free, but it didn't.
Here's the best screenshot I could get from the videos of the trapped bird (it's on the left):
Later that evening I started looking online for a new bird feeder. I found two different feeders on Amazon where someone left a review saying the same thing (a bird getting stuck) happened to them! One of the reviews even had a picture of it. This is crazy; I never knew such a thing could happen!
Eventually I did buy a new bird feeder, the Squirrel Buster Plus from a local wild bird shop. It took several days for the birds to get used to it, but they're now starting to use it more:
I sure hope this one goes better!