Backyards can attract a myriad of wildlife and many enjoy watching and studying them. It can also attract some pests and several birds that can present some problems over time. Injured birds or young ones learning to fly can concern homeowners as they may have dogs or cats and don’t want to endanger vulnerable birds.
Some cases may result in the need to catch a bird and turn it over to wildlife officials. There are a couple of ways for how to catch a bird in the backyard. You can learn how to pick up a bird using fabric and gloves or set a trap to catch the bird if it’s being a nuisance.
Read further to find out how to manage birds on your property.
Understand the Law
Some states and communities have laws that protect certain species of birds. You may not know all the various types of birds on the list so it pays to ask about local laws before you try to trap one.
Laws could also fall under the rules for hunting and there are designated times where people can legally hunt so you should do some research into those laws and regulations also.
Talk to a Wildlife Official
Homeowners who have an overabundance of birds or a specific type of invasive bird should contact a local wildlife official to find out how to handle it. The U.S. Forestry Service is a good place to start and those in a nearby state park can be helpful, especially if the bird needs to be relocated.
Wildlife rehabilitators are also a wonderful resource. They are the ones you turn to if a bird is injured and needs more help than you can give. You may have to do some research to find a wildlife rehabilitator in your area but it is worth the extra time to do so.
Some areas are on flocks migration paths. In those cases, huge numbers of a particular type of bird may descend on your yard while on their way south or north. They are making a stop for food and rest before continuing.
These aren’t cases you should worry about, even though 100 or more birds at one time may be disconcerting. Flocks never stay long and will move on. Research your area and find out what types of birds to expect in the fall and spring and what species are natural to your property year-round.
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When to Capture a Bird?
Capturing a bird in your backyard shouldn’t be a regular occurrence but there are times when it’s necessary. Those times include when a bird is injured, is young and on the ground, or when it is an extreme nuisance.
Dealing with an Injured Bird
The first thing to do when you see a bird laying on the ground is to make sure it is injured. People will watch a bird fly into a window, flop to the ground, and assume it’s injured. The bird may just be stunned.
You should wait to see if the bird gets up after a few minutes.
Another situation with some birds is they go into a paralyzed state as a defense mechanism around other animals. A bird may flop on the ground, or play dead, to avoid a confrontation with your dog or cat.
Dogs and cats tend to want to interact with their prey before killing it and remaining still can discourage them from injuring the bird. Bring your pet inside and check back in a few minutes to see if the bird is gone.
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Wear thick, sturdy gloves to capture an injured bird. You don’t want any skin-to-bird contact for many reasons.
One of the primary reasons is to protect yourself. Some birds get defensive when they are injured and can peck and claw. Birds, like all wild animals, carry germs and diseases that can be passed to people.
Birds also have things like parasites and mites within their feathers.
Your gloves will need to be washed immediately after handling the bird.
Get a Box with a Lid Ready
Anyone who captures a bird in their backyard needs to immediately be able to put it in a box with a lid and air holes. Find one and prepare it with some straw, leaves, or fabric to make the bird comfortable once it’s in it.
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Get a Cloth
Use a large cloth to grab the bird. It can be a towel or a T-shirt but realize it will need to be washed, or even thrown away, after your capture the bird.
An injured bird is scared so you will need to approach it slowly and carefully. Approach the animal from behind without it seeing you.
Picking Up the Bird
Picking up the bird while avoiding scaring it is the most important part of this process. You can pick up small birds with one hand but may need both to pick up larger birds.
You want to cup your hands around the bird with its head poking through your thumbs and fingers. Be careful not to put any pressure on the bird’s neck.
You will also need to watch how you hold the bird’s feet. Birds’ claws break easily. Don’t grab or chase the bird if it becomes frightened and escapes. Wait, check on it every few minutes and try again when it calms down.
Put the bird in the box and close the lid. A darkened, quiet environment should keep it calm.
Give the bird some seed and water. A slightly injured bird may be able to fly off in a few hours or the next day so you can release it. A seriously injured bird needs to be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator immediately.
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Dealing With Baby Birds
Many times homeowners will find a baby bird in the yard that has fallen out of the nest and isn’t yet flying. They want to do something for the creature since it is vulnerable to predators.
However, you shouldn’t jump in to capture it even though it would be easy to do so. In most cases, the baby’s parents are nearby. They don’t abandon their young. Look and listen for birds of the same species.
Check on the baby throughout the day to make sure it remains safe from predators. Keep your pets away.
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Can you capture a bird without hurting it?
Yes, you can capture a bird with your hands and a large piece of cloth like a towel or use a live trap.
What makes good bait to capture a bird?
You can use birdseed or bread crumbs to lure a bird into a trap.
Can I trap invasive birds?
You will need to check local, state, and federal laws to see if a certain type of invasive bird is protected. Sparrows are highly noted for their invasive nature and many feel the need to trap them.
How do I know where to release a trapped bird?
Birds that recover from an injury can be released in your yard. Nuisance birds can be released elsewhere like a park or recreational area. Call your local wildlife official about where to release a bird where they won’t travel back to your home.
What do I do if I find an injured bird that’s protected under the law?
Call the U.S. Forestry or state park wildlife service immediately. They will know what to do with the bird to get it the care it needs and release it.