How to Rescue a Trapped Bird

Birds typically fly indoors while searching for food. (They don’t know that human snacks might not be so good for birds.) Once inside a structure, birds can easily become trapped. They often fly upwards to attempt a quick escape—but are foiled by the ceiling and dizzying lights.

Here’s how you can best help any small bird that might stumble into your home:

With luck, allowing the bird to fly free can be easy. Start here:

Things Needed

– Calm
– Patience
– A sense of humor helps, too

Steps to Take

Step 1

Count to 10 and calm yourself down. It is not an emergency. The bird is safe and so are you. “There is not a high likelihood of the bird scratching you or biting you,” says Goldberg. (But if it’s a large bird, such as an owl or a hawk, you’ll need professional help: see below.)

Step 2

DON’T yell or chase the bird. It doesn’t need more stress, and neither do you.

Step 3

DO remove immediate dangers from the room.
– Turn off the ceiling fan.
– Escort pets elsewhere.
– Quench open flames and, if you’re in the kitchen, cover hot pots. Birds don’t know that water in the pot you’re boiling for pasta is an issue.

Step 4

DO remove all food and water sources from the room. Don’t give the bird any reason to stay.

Step 5

DO give the bird an opportunity to see itself out. Turn out the lights, open the windows, close the door, and leave it alone. Be patient. If it’s dark outside, consider waiting overnight for it to see the light. Birds will follow light if it’s light outside.

If the trapped bird can’t find the exit, a more hands-on approach may be necessary

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Here’s what to do next:

Caution

DON’T attempt to capture and release a trapped hawk or other large bird. You, the bird, or both could easily be hurt.
Call animal control or your local wildlife rehabilitation center. Try the Ohio Wildlife Center (614-793-9453).

Things Needed

– Clean hands (just in case)
– A towel or sheet
– Possibly a box large enough to easily hold the bird

Steps to Take

Step 1

DO wash your hands, even if you don’t plan on handling the bird. Even a small amount of oil from your skin can damage a bird’s feathers, and a bird is not releasable if its feathers are damaged.

Step 2

DO hold up a towel or sheet to block the bird from flying farther indoors.

Step 3

DO calmly chase the bird to tire it out if it has not already exhausted itself. The idea is to tire out the bird, but not scare it so badly that it flies into a window or wall. If you must use a broom, wave it; don’t swat at the bird. When the bird is tired, it will stop flying around and rest on a comfortable perch.

Step 4

DO turn a box on its side, hold it next to the bird, and push it inside with a small towel. Use the towel (or another object) to cover the opening as you quickly and steadily carry the box outside. Once outside, move away and let the bird recover and take off on its own.

Step 5

DON’T accidentally drop the box on the bird if attempting to capture it from above . This could hurt the bird).
If the bird readily flies away, pat yourself on the back — you are a hero!

Step 6

If the bird readily flies away, pat yourself on the back — you are a hero!
If the bird doesn’t leave, call your local wildlife rehabilitation center. The Ohio Wildlife Center (614-793-9453) is a good place to start.