When my husband was alive, we did not have inordinate difficulty in guiding small mammals and birds out of the house. Open the windows, open the doors, employ a coordinated pincer movement wielding brooms or (for birds) light fabric, and after the animal ran or flew past the opened doors and windows several times, we would get it out.

Now I live alone, and have just experienced how much an agile second person helps. The $%*# bird (adorable, but stupid) flew from end to end of the bedroom multiple, multiple times, ignoring the large opened window. Finally, probably by chance, it saw the open window and flew out. WHEW!

Now to put the furniture back (moved to make hiding places less attractive), mop up the trail of bird seed (totally ignored), and otherwise clean up. The bird's intestinal tract was in working order.

I called a neighbor to help, but the bird flew out just before she arrived.

Any suggestions as to what to do next time? For example: Bird traps? A small bird cage with irrestible food? (I already have a Havahart chipmunk trap.) Anything to put in the open window to make it more noticeable to a scared, trapped wild bird?

This is not a question about bird-proofing or chipmunk-proofing the house. The critters are brought in by the indoor cat, who has free access from the house to a large wired oudoor enclosure, whose mesh is coarse enough to admit small birds and tiny mammals. This doesn't happen often enough to rebuild the enclosure with finer mesh -- YET.

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    Food, either as a "guide" towards the window or as bait in a trap won't work. When an animal feels trapped and cornered, and is in panic mode, it will not care about eating.
    – vsz
    Commented Mar 14 at 8:00
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    I've used a big-hoop butterfly net to remove bats. They don't seem harmed by it. I also doubt it would harm a small bird (but don't know).
    – davidbak
    Commented Mar 14 at 16:08
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    One thing I will say is don’t call animal control. I did that once for a bird in northern VA and the person who came out killed the bird as part of catching it. Commented Mar 14 at 18:55
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    @Todd Wilcox No, NEVER! But thanks for the warning.
    – ab2
    Commented Mar 14 at 23:49

2 Answers 2


Do the opposite, make the room dark, as dark as you can get it. Almost all birds will sit down when they can not see.

Then you can either cover it with a box, (slide cardboard under it,) or a towel (pick it up using the towel around it) or catch it with your bare or gloved hands, depending on the kind of bird, the location it sits down and your abilities to handle the bird in the dark.

If you can not make it dark, you can let the bird settle in and wait for dusk/dark rather than chasing it (keeping it in panic mode.) It is more likely that a bird that sits still will see the open window than it will if it is flying around.

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    +1. Thanks, @Willeke. Unfortunately, I do not have draperies, or curtains or shades or blinds. I am surrounded and screened by woods. But your answer is making me think about a two extra outdoor lights to entice a bird back out at dusk, if capturing it does not work.
    – ab2
    Commented Mar 13 at 21:10
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    @ab2 Screening off other light sources will also help guide to the open window - It could be as simple as some sheets/blankets or some cardboard to block windows.
    – bob1
    Commented Mar 13 at 22:57
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    Some birds are nocturnal...? Never had an owl in my living room though. That would be something!
    – gerrit
    Commented Mar 14 at 8:56
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    @ab2 That works. I've had to do it a couple of times, it's a PITA getting the room dark but when there's only one source of light from the open window, the bird goes for it. Commented Mar 15 at 13:25

When I had a bird in my home I used a light blanket (the empty cover of my bed's blanket) to throw it over the bird. Then it was not able to move fast anymore and I was able to carefully take it from the floor, carry it to the window (or out the door) and slowly open the blanket. The bird was first paralysed, but then happy hopped a step and flew away.

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