This bill is killing me

Okay, it’s not killing me exactly, but this poor bird needs help, and fast:

Indian stork with stuck beak

Almost looks like someone shut this bird’s bill with a zip tie, doesn’t it?

Indian wildlife enthusiasts and forest officials have been trying to rescue a rare bird whose beak has been trapped shut by a plastic ring.

The black-necked stork was first spotted with the ring around its beak in a wetland outside the capital Delhi by a group of bird watchers on 7 June.

They believe the bird can drink water but say the ring is preventing it from opening its beak further to eat. Rescuers are hoping to catch it before it starves to death.

Source of that plastic ring? The cap from a beverage bottle, it’s suggested.

The species, Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus, is listed as “near-threatened”: there are several distinct populations, none of them large or breeding rapidly. And this particular bird is facing a dilemma:

“It has to be weak enough so that it doesn’t fly away but if it gets too weak it will die,” Pankaj Gupta, a bird watcher and member of the Delhi Bird Foundation, who has been involved with the rescue mission, told the BBC.

Efforts to catch the bird and free its beak have been thus far unsuccessful.


  1. hollyh »

    13 June 2018 · 11:48 am

    So sad. We have invented plenty of advanced weaponry for killing, just haven’t gotten around to inventing no-kill capture devices, apparently.

    My husband and I regularly deal with this kind of thing at home. We are fond of the neighborhood Canadian geese, of which there are many. We often have to watch geese with fishing lines wrapped tightly around their legs, slowly but surely killing the legs. And we can’t help. Animal control says it will help, if we capture these geese and hold onto them. So far, we have managed this feat only once, and only because other ducks were pinning down the victim for us.

  2. McGehee »

    13 June 2018 · 12:30 pm

    I’m not sure I’ve seen a beverage bottle that would have a plastic ring that small — unless it’s a really huge bird.

    (Had a flashback to an audience line from Rocky Horror about a stone bird with a huge, er, bill — but I suppressed it.)

  3. fillyjonk »

    13 June 2018 · 12:51 pm

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the bird WAS that huge. Cranes and storks are kinda terrifying up close and definitely make you go, “Yeah, I can see these are descended from dinosaurs.”

    I wouldn’t want to be the poor dude (probably the equivalent of an intern) who gets tasked with throwing a net over that thing and trying to pry the ring off its bill.

  4. McGehee »

    13 June 2018 · 2:08 pm

    I read once, many many years ago, someone describe hunting some migratory wading bird as being like shooting a 747 on landing approach at JFK, so I guess I can see what you mean.

  5. McGehee »

    13 June 2018 · 2:10 pm

    Aaaaand, as with spider-raccoon, the stork is going to be okay.

  6. hollyh »

    13 June 2018 · 3:41 pm


  7. CGHill »

    13 June 2018 · 5:43 pm

    The WaPo reports:

    Birders and state wildlife officials then mounted a frantic search for the bird, which was finally captured Wednesday and taken to a bird sanctuary nearby for treatment. The stork is dehydrated but nibbled on a small fish and is in surprisingly good condition despite going without food for at least seven days.

    The appetite will return quickly enough, I’m sure.

RSS feed for comments on this post