How to Catch a Bird in Your House

How to Catch a Bird in Your House: The Complete Guide

chicks swallows call for feed in nest under village house roof

If there is a bird trapped in your home, the first thing to do is calm down. Loud noises and sudden movements will only cause more panic. Be assured that, even if you do suffer ornithophobia (fear of birds), the bird is more scared of you than you are of it. Follow the steps below for a simple guide to removing a bird that is stuck indoors. So do you know how to safely catch a bird trapped in your house?

If birds terrify you, and you find yourself in this position, try to find a level-headed friendly neighbor to assist. If you are feeling brave, however, this might be the perfect time to face your fear. Just remember step one – stay calm and patient.

Steps on How to Safely Catch a Bird Trapped in Your House

If it is a large bird or a Raptor (predatory bird), keep your distance. Don’t attempt to shoo the bird as it may feel threatened and respond aggressively. 

Before tackling the problem, remember these tips:

Birds naturally seek safety in their ability to fly out of danger. As such, they tend to fly upwards when startled. This is key when it comes to successfully returning a trapped bird to the open air. 

Birds are not used to ceilings above them. When you startle a bird in the house, it flies upwards to escape the danger, but it often flies past the route of escape in its panic. The key is to encourage the bird towards noticing the exit naturally. Scaring a bird that is stuck inside is usually counterproductive.

Author Note: Birds can’t see the glass, or at least they haven’t learned the visual cue that tells them that glass is a solid object. When trying to shepherd a bird out from your house, cover the glass portion of the open window.

Birds have hollow bones. This makes them light enough to fly but comes with drawbacks. A bird’s bones are very fragile, and their bodies are very sensitive to impact and physical pressure. A bird stuck inside it could easily injure itself when startled by crashing into the ceiling or furniture.

Use a sheet rather than a towel if you have no choice but to catch the bird. A heavy towel may exert too much pressure and cause the bird an injury. 

If you have no option but to handle a bird, use gloves or a sheet between the bare skin and the feathers. A bird’s feathers can be damaged by the natural oils that are produced by our fingertips. Be very careful not to squeeze the bird. Rather than holding it, it’s more like forming a close cage with your hands to stop the wings from opening.


These steps are for small birds only. If you have a bird larger than a crow stuck in your home, please scroll down to “Large birds and Raptors indoors.”

  1. Stay calm and patient!
  2. Turn off the ceiling fan if you have one on, and turn out the lights. 
  3. Calmly remove any animals and/or overexcited children from the room the bird is in. 
  4. Wash your hands thoroughly (this is important), and fetch a sheet. 

Hopefully, the bird will have made its way back out by the time you come back, but if not –

  1. Close the curtains on all but the largest window, and open it as wide as possible. If you have sash type windows open the top half rather than the bottom.
  2. Allow the only source of light to come from the exit. 
  3. Ensure there is a clear, direct path to the exit.

At this point, you can give the bird some time to recover from the initial shock and allow it to try and find its own way out. If it is still there after 10 minutes –

  1. Spread the sheet out and try to shepherd the bird out slowly.
  2. Avoid touching the bird to minimize the risk of injuring it.

If the Bird Won’t Leave, What Then?

If all attempts to shepherd the bird out have failed, the chances are good that both you and the bird are quite tired. As a very last resort, you can try and throw the sheet over the bird. If you succeed in catching it, as quickly and gently as you can, release it into the open air.

Release the Bird As Soon As You Can

Bird tit feeding at backyard feeder hanging on tree

Birds are beautiful to look at, and the kids might be mesmerized, but the poor bird has been through a terrifying ordeal, let it go as soon as possible.

Another reason not to delay in releasing a bird that has been trapped inside is due to their metabolism. Birds have a particularly high metabolic rate, which, like hollow bones, also has benefits and drawbacks. 

Due to their high metabolism, birds can ingest some types of poisonous berries. However, they do not retain the toxins in the body long enough to be affected by the poison. The negative side to a high metabolism is that birds need to eat regularly to maintain their energy levels.

Hummingbirds use so much energy rapidly beating their wings they need to eat every few minutes to survive. Hummingbirds can metabolize no other food source but the almost pure sugar from the nectar they drink fast enough to sustain them.

This does not imply you should try and feed the bird before releasing it! A stressed bird will not eat. I just hope that you might see your new friend at your bird table in the future.

Large Birds and Raptors Indoors

Author Note: If you are in the unfortunate position where you have a raptor or large bird stuck in your house, this situation is best dealt with by professionals. There are a few things you can try before calling in the cavalry, though.

I will repeat some of the steps mentioned earlier, but if you’re in the middle of a panic, it’s best you don’t have to go back and forth.

  1. Move slowly, be patient, and don’t panic.
  2. Turn off the ceiling fan and lights.
  3. Calmly escort pets and children out of the room
  4. Wash your hands and fetch a large towel.

In this case, the towel is not to catch the bird but to use in the extremely unlikely event of the bird attacking. You should not need to touch the bird. Simply spreading the towel wide should deter a bird that is flying at you. Again, hope the bird will leave while you’re out of the room, but if not –

  1. Slowly and calmly close the curtains leaving the largest window open and unobstructed.
  2. Allow a clear line of sight from the bird to the open window.
  3. Leave the room, and hope the bird finds the exit.

If the bird has not left within half an hour, call in the professionals. It may be injured or concussed and therefore should remain undisturbed until medical assessment.

Photo by pixabay

Why Is There a Bird in My House? 

The most common reason to have a bird fly in through an open window or door is that it has seen a hunter. Counter to birds flying upwards when startled, when smaller birds see an airborne threat, they will seek a low, dense canopy to hide beneath. 

One of the easiest methods to distinguish heavy cover is the darkness of the shadow it casts. When a bird senses an aerial threat, it may dart through an open window. The darkness of the room beyond could look like a good place to hide.

Another reason birds can fly in is that they can see out of a second window on the far side of a room. The birds can see the view through the car window, like an opening through the bushes to a clearing. When they get inside, the house is very different from the bush they were expecting, causing disorientation.

Is Glass Invisible to Birds?

Domestic cat in house looking through window at European robin (Erithacus rubecula) in garden

A clear pane of glass that shows no reflections is actually invisible to humans as well as birds. Even if we haven’t done it ourselves, we have all seen someone walk into a glass door. That is because they haven’t seen the glass, because it is invisible – invisible means ‘cannot be seen.’

Author Note: We learn to read cues that tell us where glass is. We learn that a hole in a wall usually has a window in it. Therefore we expect to find glass there. There are usually glass doors when you walk into a shopping center, so you look out for the smears that give the glass away. 

Another reason birds fly into windows is because of reflections. Mirrors also require us to learn about reflections. That learning gives us visual cues to differentiate between the real world and a reflection.

Glass and mirrors do not appear naturally in a bird’s environment. Despite their incredible eyesight, the dirt on a window probably just looks like airborne dust to a bird. It is not uncommon to see a territorial male bird fighting his reflection in the spring. If you do see this, do him a favor and turn the mirror around. Blackbirds have been known to fight their reflections to the point of starvation.

Are you unlucky enough to have a window that just seems to attract birds to crash into it? Bird safe glass is a product that will save you from bricking up and moving the windows in your house! Bird safe glass has a patterned UV layer coating that is a visible warning to birds.

We hope this article has helped you to deal with unwelcome birds in your house. Although birds are beautiful, being trapped in your home could turn them into aggressive little fighters. But aside from that, they could seriously injure themselves. And remember to always be careful with wild animals, even if they are small birds. 


Learning how to safely catch a bird in your house is an important skill to have. You never know when you might have to remove a feathered friend! We hope you enjoyed this article on how to safely catch a bird in your house.

Fly high friends!


How do birds get in my house?

Well, the obvious answer is through open doors and windows. If that is not the case, then it could be that they are investigating vents or chimneys looking for nesting sites. Check them for signs of that.

Do birds nest in houses?

Mostly, birds will nest outside or under the eaves. Some friendly species like sparrows and starlings may look for holes in the corners of the roof and sneak into the roof space. This should be checked and gaps block off. Not only will birds doing this block the rainspouts but also damage the roof itself.

What does it mean if a bird flies into my house?

Superstitious people think it is bad luck but really it is simply because the bird took a wrong turn.

Comments 1
  1. Thank you for these tips! I think key to coaxing the bird out was eliminating the light sources by turning off overhead lights, and covering up the windows (which unfortunately, in this case, have screens). I opened the front and back door, and success!

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