Birds are a beautiful and vital part of our ecosystem, and it is very distressing to hear them trapped in a downspout. It happened at my Asheville, NC, house this winter. Thankfully, a gardener was working that day in the backyard and heard the feather rustling noises when he went to use the hose and realized a bird was stuck in the gutter downspout. Thankfully, we could free the bird only by thinking out of the box and some excellent luck!
While it may be tempting to take action to free the bird immediately, you first need to approach the situation slowly and cautiously to ensure the bird's safety.
This is how we freed a bird trapped at the bottom of a downspout underneath a concrete deck inside a 3 inch perforated corex drain pipe.
Assess the Situation
First, we determined where the bird was located in the downspout. Using a ladder, the gardener first looked into the downspout from the roof to ensure the bird was not caught in the downpipe at the top. He didn't see anything, so we determined it was at the bottom.
Remove the Gutter Downspout
The gardener very carefully removed the downspout. We could pull off the downspout with the right tools to unscrew the attachments within a minute or two.
I didn't know how long the bird had been stuck and immediately dropped some birdseed down the gutter and a small amount of fresh water.
Because we had the downspout pulled off for an hour, water kept dripping into the opening from the roof, and I ended up putting an umbrella up to deflect the raindrops. I wanted to avoid pushing the bird further into the underground gutter system if was being pelted by water from the roof.
Locate Where the Bird Is Stuck
Using a flashlight, I looked down the perforated corex drain pipe, only 3 inches wide, which started at the top of my concrete deck, dropped down vertically about 8 inches and then all the way across the deck and small backyard. I saw the top of a bird's head, in total darkness, where the gutter curved and ran underneath the deck.
See If The Bird Can Fly Out With the Downspout Off
A trapped bird will always move toward any sunlight, and if it is small enough, may be able to fly out from the bottom. In my case, even though we didn't know it at the moment, but the bird was too big to spread its wings. The drain pipe gutter tubing from the ground to the top of the deck, about 6-8 inches, was vertical, making it impossible for a bird to fly out. I gave it 30 minutes to see if it would fly out before moving on to another option.
Put Something Down the Spout The Bird Can Grab Onto a Climb Out
Since we didn't know how big the bird was, my first thought was to use material of some kind and make a little ladder by tieing tiny, tight knots up it. I had a moving blanket in the garage made of felt, and the gardener cut out a 12-inch piece. We then tied little knots and spaced an inch or two apart. We dropped the makeshift ladder into the drainpipe and anchored the material at the top.
I left it there for 30 minutes to see if the bird could escape.
In the meantime, I called an amazingly creative contractor to see if he had any suggestions. Since the gutter drain pipe tubing ran underneath the yard and connected at an opening across the yard (about 15 feet from the deck), he suggested using a leaf blower to push the bird towards the opening and the felt ladder to induce it to fly out if it could. The gardener had one on hand, so he turned it on for about a minute at the far end of the yard. Note: I'm not a big fan of using a leaf blower in this situation because of the gas exhaust and loud noise. However, in retrospect, it was far from where the bird was and appeared to have helped move the bird closer to the opening on the deck.
Half an hour later, no bird came flying out, so I decided my felt ladder was too flimsy and went to find a small branch to see if it could hop onto it and climb out. We found a branch and went to swap out the felt ladder for the branch.
As I pulled the felt ladder out of the pipe, the bird came up with it and flew away at the top! It was holding onto the felt for dear life and came up at the same time.
Excellent luck and a very happy ending to a stressful situation!
Before taking any action, assess the situation carefully. Determine the size of the bird and the location of the downspout. If the bird is small and the downspout is accessible, it may be possible to free the bird yourself. However, if the bird is large or the downspout is in an awkward location, it may be best to seek professional help.
It's important not to force the bird out of the downspout, as this can cause injury to the bird. If the bird is panicked or injured, freeing it may be more difficult. Instead, remain calm and take steps to gently guide the bird out of the downspout.
Call for Help
If you cannot safely free the bird yourself, call for professional help. Wildlife rescue organizations or local animal control can provide assistance in freeing the bird. They will have the tools and equipment to safely extract the bird from the downspout.
While waiting for help to arrive, supporting the trapped bird is essential. Keep a safe distance from the bird, but provide it with water, food, and shelter if possible. This can help to reduce stress and ensure the bird's well-being.
Prevent Future Incidents
Once the bird has been safely freed, take steps to prevent future incidents. Install downspout guards or leaf guards to prevent birds from becoming trapped in the downspout in the future. Regularly check your gutter system for debris or other hazards that may trap birds.
In conclusion, hearing a bird trapped in a downspout is very distressing, but it's essential to approach the situation with care and caution. Assess the situation carefully, call for professional help, and support the bird while waiting for assistance.
By taking these steps, we can help ensure our feathered friends' safety and well-being. Additionally, taking preventative measures can help to avoid future incidents and protect birds from becoming trapped in downspouts.
If you have ever freed a trapped bird or animal from your gutters, please let me know how you did it!
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