I’m calling this one the Great Great Crested Flycatcher Caper. I didn’t realize when I screened in my back deck that I’d wind up with my own personal aviary. But that’s what I had when not one but two Great Crested Flycatchers flew onto the deck and then couldn’t figure out how to fly back out. And they had company: a buff-bellied hummingbird. I watched in dismay as three birds flew back and forth, frustrated by the screen that kept them confined.
I tried shooing them toward the stairs but that only frightened them. I put a hummingbird feeder and a bowl of water at the bottom of the stairs hoping that would lure the birds off the deck but that didn’t work.
I hoped that when night came, they’d be emboldened to try escaping, but I spent a restless night listening to them fluttering in vain against the barriers, and to my curious cat who realllyyy wanted to get out on the deck and chase the birds. By morning, I was as stressed out as the birds were. I asked myself, “WWTAD” — “what would Tony Amos do?” He’d use a net, and I gave that a try. I borrowed a pool skimmer but that didn’t work; the birds kept eluding my attempts to snare them.
Finally, I decided to call Tony Amos for advice. Even though these weren’t sea birds in need of rescue — the usual mission of the Animal Rehabilitation Keep of which he is the director — he took the time to come over and help. “Man-made structures are the most challenging for birds to escape from,” he explained. I saw that my pool-skimmer gambit might have worked if not for my clumsy technique. The trick is not to try to catch the bird in the net. Instead, one by one, Tony gently sandwiched each bird between the deck screen and the net, gently reached in and got a hold of the bird and then carried it downstairs to be released into a nearby tree.
After he left, I shrouded the opening to the stairwell in a tarp that will stay there for the rest of migratory season so no more birds will get trapped on my deck, and thought what a wonderful place is Port Aransas, where we have knowledgeable and caring people like Tony and the ARK staff and volunteers and the Great Great Crested Flycatcher Caper had a happy ending.