Originally, this apparatus was simply a hollow utensil sold as a cylindrical or hourglass funnel by various kitchen product manufacturers in the 19th century. However, eventually ceramic artists got involved and pie birds became all the rage. Later creatures such as elephants and pigs also made appearances in pies. Some special editions of pie birds had wings that divided a pan in half, allowing the baker to employ two distinct fillings. These devices were meant to prevent bubbling juice from spilling over in the oven.
It’s easy to understand why Victorian bakers and homemakers couldn’t resist the fanciful appearance of pie birds. Even people today are attracted to this whimsy. Pie birds are sold on eBay, Etsy, and other online purveyors of antique collectibles. Newer models are also sold in upscale kitchenware shops. If you have one, give it a try. Just pop the figurine into the center of a pastry crust, add your filling, and mold the top crust around your pie bird.