That was cool. And especially cool that I found it all, because it was winter and I hadn't been in my garden for weeks.
But something made me walk out to it that evening. And I saw the jay, frantically trying to fly away but never leaving the fence because the netting I used months earlier to protect my cherry tomatoes (from thieves like jays) was wrapped around one of its legs.
I put on my gardening gloves and reached for the bird. After a few tries I got my hand around its wings and felt it go limp immediately, likely collapsing from exhaustion and fear.
I cut off the netting easily with scissors, but still couldn’t free the jay because the talons of its foot were closed around the top of the fence. I had to carefully open those long, sharp talons before lifting the jay away from the fence, relishing being so close to a bird’s foot while still keenly aware that at any moment it could awaken and injure me.
Once the bird was free from the fence, I saw that the netting was digging into its leg, so I laid it down in a pot of dirt to perform surgery, carefully cutting off as much of the black netting as I could.
But I couldn’t get it all, some of it was just too tight. I stopped and stood over the still bird for a few moments, trying to decide if should get my seam-ripper and try to remove more netting, though I would be risking injuring the leg even more.
Deciding it was worth a try, I reached to pick the bird up again to carry it with me, but it was done with my help and scrambled up to fly away clumsily, dropping into the bushes as soon as it cleared the fence.
Worried the jay might not have survived its ordeal after all, I checked the bushes the next morning but it was gone. And now every time I see a scrub jay at my feeders I scan their legs for a tiny black bracelet.
But I haven’t seen one yet. And yes, I cut the rest of the netting off the fence and never used it again.