First of all, some of you may be asking... just what is a Pie Bird? Well Pie Birds, also known as Pie Funnels, Vents, or Chimneys, are little ceramic, glass or earthenware creations that have been used since Victorian times. They are "steam vents" that are placed in the center of fruit and meat pies while cooking to prevent the pie from boiling over in the oven. When the pie filling is cooking, they allow the steam to escape from inside the pie. Pie Birds also support the pastry crust in the center of the pie, so that it did not sag in the middle.
These amazing pieces of art are very useful to have around, but the real joy of these little guys is their beauty. The most common is the black bird, and over the years, more animals and characters have joined their ranks.
Of course, if you are going to collect Pie Birds, do your home work and watch out for replicas. For example, the Black Chef from the 1950's wears a white chef’s hat has a long thin white spoon and a blue, green, or yellow smock, and is valued at around $150. The replica's spoon is round with glaze crazes. Look carefully at the vent holes and make sure they are about the diameter of a pencil, as repros usually have a small vent or absurdly, no vent hole.
I started collecting pie birds a few years ago when I stumbled on them by accident on ebay. I dutifully got a couple of collectable books to get me started and a few smarts...
...and I have enjoyed the thrill of the hunt for unique and affordable funnels and birds. Of course, there are those I must pass up if they go beyond my budget, but mostly I collect the ones that appeal to me. Here's a some pictures of a few of my collection. Some I got for a little... some for a little more! :o)