Although it’s not common for birds to fly off course and end up indoors, it occasionally does happen, and can be a distressing event for everyone involved, not least the disorientated bird.
But what should you do if you find a wild bird in your house, and how can you safely help it to escape? Read on for advice about what to do if you find yourself in this situation.
Birds can enter homes through open windows, skylights or even doors that have been left ajar, or even in a brief moment while a human has opened a door to enter a property. To help them leave safely, it is important to keep calm and follow some simple steps to guide them outside again.
Birds may be drawn to a light inside a home, and find their way inside via an open window. By turning off all interior lights, and closing any internal doors, making sure the original window is as wide open as possible, the bird may well make a hasty retreat the same way it came in, particularly if there is an exterior light to help guide them back outside.
Being indoors can be a stressful event for a wild bird, and there is potential that it could become injured. Care needs to be taken when removing stray birds from inside your home, and handling should be avoided unless the bird is unable to fly and is in need of veterinary attention.
The best course of action is to provide the means for them to leave on their own, without the need for human intervention.
Keep reading to learn more about different approaches to successfully ridding your home of unexpected winged visitors.
Sparrows are one of the most common birds to find indoors
If you find a bird in your house and it doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to find its own way out, don’t panic – there are many different methods you can try to tempt it back to a more natural habitat.
Close all doors so the bird is limited to one room, rather than having the chance of flying all around the house. In that room, cupboards and closet doors should be closed, limiting the areas the bird can access. Open the window as wide as you can, and with luck, the bird will be drawn by the fresh air outside and find its own way out.
Once the bird is isolated in a single space, close the lights off in that room. This will help to calm the bird down if it is becoming agitated by the strange environment it finds itself in. If there is a light source outside, such as a street lamp or neon sign, this will help to entice the off-course bird back out into the natural world.
If a trapped bird is taking its time to leave and doesn’t seem to be taking the hint of the open window, it might be worth trying a trick with a bed sheet to give it a helping hand. By holding the sheet high up, with the door of the room where the bird is closed behind you, walk towards the bird, creating a moving wall and reducing the space the bird has available. This might be all that is needed to direct the bird towards the open window.
Although a bird may be relatively calm when it accidentally flies inside a house, the frantic search for an escape route, often accompanied by high activity from nearby humans can quickly cause severe agitation. Allowing the bird time to calm down, will enable you to stand a better chance of helping it escape, or if needed, handling it safely to be treated by a rescue center.
For birds that look particularly vicious, unapproachable, or stressed and unpredictable, it would be wise to consult a rescue center for tips and assistance. The same is true for injured birds or those who seem unable to leave for other reasons.
A bird perched on tops of some books inside a library
Birds cannot see glass in windows or doors, and may be attracted off their planned course by lights or something it has spied behind a window. Under most circumstances, there is no danger of birds flying into homes when doors or windows are left open, but some birds may accidentally end up way out of their comfort zone if a wrong turn is taken.
Opportunistic birds may take advantage of an open door to seek shelter or look for scraps of food inside. They may then become disoriented and unable to immediately navigate their way out and fly further into a property in search of an exit.
Pigeon looking inside through a window
Depending on where you are in the world, some of the more common birds to end up inside houses are sparrows and blue jays. In many parts of Asia, myna birds are classed as an invasive species and will frequently – and boldly – enter houses.
In more urban areas and cities, pigeons often find themselves inside buildings. In the countryside, Barn Swallows are fairly common birds that find their way into your house, particularly if they're nesting in a nearby barn or location nearby.
Their usual method of entry is when there are open doors nearby to where they are nesting, and the open door can often be mistaken for a barn, during their acrobatic flight.
Some of the most inquisitive birds can even be found peeking through open windows!
Barn Swallow inside a house, perched on top of a wardrobe
There are different spiritual interpretations associated with a bird flying into a home. One basic meaning is that a bird flying into your house is a messenger bringing news. Some people believe that the color of a bird is important, with white birds said to be bringers of good news, while birds with dark feathers are a bad omen of impending doom.
Birds flying into houses is considerably rare, and some believe that when a house welcomes an unexpected avian visitor, it must mean the occupant offers peace, security and stability.
Close up of a Mynah bird inside a home
To free a bird that has flown into a house with no windows, you’ll need to guide it towards a doorway by gradually sealing off other rooms so that it has no other option but to leave. Once in a room with an exit to the outside world, you can attempt to steer the bird towards the opening, possibly by using the bed sheet trick. By holding a sheet high in the air and walking towards the bird, blocking any other exit, you can direct the bird so it flies out through the open doorway.
Close any doors, so that the bird is limited to one room, and open the window as wide as possible. Exit the room, leaving the bird inside, and turning off all nearby lights. The bird will naturally be attracted by any lights outside, so even in total darkness, any exterior light source, no matter how distant, will help. If the bird is able to fly, it will eventually make its way out through the open window.
If a bird becomes trapped in a room with high ceilings, and is not showing any urgency in leaving under its own steam, you can try to guide it out, by eliminating all exit points except one (an open window or a door leading outside). Ceiling fans should be turned off, and lights switched off so the bird is calm enough to find its own way out.
For rooms with extremely high ceilings, one possible approach is to attempt to catch it in a net, and slowly guide the net down the wall to the floor. By placing a sheet over the bird in the net, you can carry it safely outside and release it. If the bird is out of safe reach, it might be wise to leave it to the experts and consult a wildlife rescue center.
Do you have a question about this topic that we haven't answered? Submit it below, and one of our experts will answer as soon as they can.
Get the latest BirdFacts delivered straight to your inbox