How to Calm Down a Bird

Animals respond to danger by either using the fight or flight reactions. Birds are no different, and more often than not will choose flight. When a bird is hurt or must be caught, they will try to fly away, by following the steps outlined below, it will benefit yourself and will cause the least discomfort, distress and will, in most cases, allow an injured bird to have a better chance at survival.


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    Evaluate your surroundings. If you find an injured bird on the road, turn on your vehicle's warning lights to warn other drivers to slow down. Check in both directions for oncoming traffic and, when clear, cautiously move toward the bird. If you move suddenly, most birds will try to fly away, which will probably cause greater injury.
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    Decide on an approach. If the bird is in the middle of the road, the best thing to do in the meantime is to get it off of the road, as this will prevent it from getting hit again. If the bird is on the side of the road, evaluate the bird without causing it too much distress.
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    Get the right equipment, though in an emergency situation there is a less likely chance that you will have all the necessary equipment available.
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    Approach the bird.
    • Using a box: Open the box and get as close to the bird as you can without especially disturbing it. You want the box to lie on its side, with the opening facing the bird. Use you feet to guide the bird into the box, but make sure not to kick it! Once the bird inside, lift the box and close the lid while leaving a small gap in it for air.
    • Using a blanket: Spread out the blanket and hold it up using the upper corners, lower your hands and approach slowly. When you get close to the bird, slowly open the blanket and toss it over the bird. If the bird escapes, get even closer and toss the blanket a little faster than before. If you don't have a blanket, a shirt or sweater will also work.
    • Using your hands: Form your middle and index fingers into a V shape, slightly bending forward their tips. Kneel behind the bird and move your hand toward the back of its head. Encircle the bird's neck with your fingers, firmly enough to hold it but not strangle it. This position will stop the bird from moving its head around and biting you.
    • Using gloves: Following the above method, move slowly toward the bird. Using both hands, place one above the bird, ready to hold the bird across the wings on its back. The other hand should be placed under the front of the bird, so as to support its bust. Bring both hands to the bird and hold it that way until you can put it in a suitable container.
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    Calm the bird down. Get a box that will easily contain the bird; the bird will need to be able to stand in the box without bending its tail or having to duck its head. Crack closed the lid of the box and place it in a quiet room or on the back seat of your vehicle.
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    Take the bird to an animal rescue centre or veterinarian. They know how to care for injured animals, including wild birds. This is where your job ends. However, if you live too far away from an animal clinic and the bird is not injured badly, there are more steps you can take to save it.
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    Keep the bird warm and in the dark. Stress, like in humans, can be treated by keeping the patient warm with nothing to bother it. Place the bird, leaving it in the box, in a room with a heater or a fireplace, or place a blanket over the box. Don't place any food or water in the box; water, though good for helping with dehydration, can also give the bird pneumonia in the early stages of stress. You also want to keep the bird dry; if you place water in the box, you may cause the bird to stress out and bash around.
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    Evaluate the bird's health. After about 12 hours, check on the bird. The bird may have passed away due to stress, but in good cases the bird will still be alive. At this time, if the bird is still panting or looks to be in stress, leave it covered for another 12 hours. Birds can take a while to recover from stress. If the bird is fine, get some bird seed and place it in a corner of the box, and leave the bird alone for a while. When the bird is not stressed, you can more safely take it out and place it in a larger box or cage. This will allow you to see what the bird's injuries are and how severe they are. Sometimes, you will need to nurse the bird back to health, if you do not want to do this take the bird to an animal rescue centre and they will provide for it.
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    Release the bird. If the bird was rescued near your house and is not injured, you can try to release it. Birds that cannot fly usually pass away due to cold and being killed by predators. If the bird cannot fly away, capture it again and keep caring for it until it has fully recovered. When you release it, find a place with adequate tree and canopy coverage, as this will protect the bird from any predators. But if there are native flowering plants around, the bird may decide to stay a while longer!


  • Without the above, use gloves if you have them so as to prevent injuring your fingers. Bird bites hurt, and many wild birds carry diseases or parasites.
  • Talk soothingly and calmly, as this may calm the bird down enough for you to safely catch it.
  • If you are dealing with a bird that has escaped from a home, or is at a house and is wounded or simply unruly, the steps that can be applied for the situation work just as well as if it were wild.
  • Try using a soothing sound machine, the calming sounds from nature can help calm and sooth your bird.
  • Using a box or blanket to capture the bird is usually the best method and is much safer than using your hands.
  • If you are unable to reach the bird, contact the RSPCA or an animal rescue centre about it.
  • If you come across a bird that has string wrapped around its feet or that has become entangled in wire, follow the same steps above with a towel. Dampen it first, so it is heavier, as a bird with string on its feet can still fly and you should catch it before it tries to.
  • If the bird seems starving, you should give it to an animal shelter for they will be able to give them the correct food.
  • Keep the bird away from other animals.


  • Stress is a common killer of already injured birds. Further alarming one is a life-threatening risk for it.
  • Don't place the bird near your face; it may bite you and could injure your eyes, lips, nose or other parts of your face, and you could be permanently injured.
  • Leave the bird alone for a little while for it to calm down if it's stressed.
  • Birds in distress may not behave normally. They will try to defend themselves, and biting is the only defense they have, other than flying.
  • Don't harm or hurt wild birds.
  • Do not use a bird cage to catch a bird. They will thrash around in the cage, harming themselves and damaging their feathers on the cage bars, possibly even causing death.

Things You'll Need

  • Blanket
  • Bottle of water (to dampen the blanket or towel)
  • Sealable, cubic box
  • Gloves
  • Calm Surrounding

Article Info

Categories: Animal Rescue | General Bird Care