Other Bird Issue FAQs

We all want to live and coexist with our local birds, but sometimes issues arise that don’t exactly fall into the rescue scenarios covered elsewhere on this site. If you don’t see your question here, we encourage you to contact the Center.

Birds can be stunned, break a wing, or even be killed after hitting a window. Here are some tips for keeping wild birds from crashing into windows. Not all of these ideas work for all situations; it depends on the house, the bird, and the surroundings. Experiment— if one thing doesn’t work, try another.

Remember, it is NOT what is inside your house that is causing the problem. The birds are seeing the reflection of the sky, clouds, trees, bird feeders and other things outside. They think they can fly to those things, not realizing there is only a solid window there. Changing what is inside the window, such as keeping your blinds or curtains drawn, will not reduce the reflection on the outside. So, what can you do?

  • Relocate any bird feeders and houses further from the house so the birds will not see their reflections as often.
  • Keep your windows dirty! Birds think they can fly to whatever is reflected in the window. Dirt reduces reflections.
  • Putting a screen on the window reduces reflections somewhat, and provides some cushion during an impact.
  • Thumbtack shade cloth over the window. Shade cloth can be bought at hardware stores and garden centers. It’s a plastic mesh that is easy for you to see through and will keep the windows from reflecting.
  • Thumbtack string diagonally across the windows, from corner to corner. Do this for all corners. Then tie strips of cloth or surveyor’s tape (colored plastic strips) to the string so that the ends flutter in the wind. You are creating a scarecrow effect on the window.
  • Cut circles out of a foil pie pan. Poke a hole in each circle and tie a string through the hole. Then tie these foil circles to the diagonal strings as in the step above.
  • In the North San Francisco Bay Area’s “Wine Country,” one can purchase reflective mylar “vineyard tape” at a farm supply store. Cut out appropriate length strips and staple one end to the outer edge of the eaves above the window. The movement and flashing of the tape alerts the birds.

Usually, brightly colored objects floating freely in the water will discourage waterfowl from landing on it. Things like beach balls or kids’ toys can be used effectively. You can also cover the pool until they have moved on.

If ducklings are trapped in a pool or fountain, you can construct a temporary ramp and move away so they can get out of the water easily.

Wait until the babies have fledged (left the nest). Then remove the nest and devise some sort of barrier (i.e., rolled chicken wire) to prevent future nesting. DO NOT disturb the nest! It is illegal to disturb an active nest. For that reason we also strongly discourage trimming of trees and bushes in the spring and summer unless you are quite certain there are no active nests present.

First, determine if the bird is a diurnal hawk (active during the day) or a nocturnal owl (active at night).

If it is a diurnal bird:
If possible, go up on the roof and completely cover any skylights with an opaque cloth to block the light. Turn off any lights, keep people away from the area and open the largest door close to where the bird is. The bird may take the hint and fly right out toward the light source.

If the bird flies into the warehouse toward dusk it may be perfectly content to simply roost in your building overnight. In this case, turn off the lights, close the doors and go home. Come back early the next morning, preferably before dawn, keep all lights off, open the largest door closest to the bird and keep all people from the area. Position yourself out of sight but in a place where you can see the bird leave. This is most successful if you arrive early enough to have the door open as the sky lightens.

With a hummingbird trapped in a building, we have had success gathering a big bunch of flowers and placing them in a vase just outside the exit door.

If it is an owl:
Most owls spend the daylight hours secluded in a tree or other structure and do not fly until dark. At dusk, turn off all lights inside the building, open the largest door closest to the bird, remove all people from the area and be out of sight but in a position where you can see the bird leave. Most owls will not leave until it is quite dark, so your timing is critical. The bird may also be disoriented and not fly out immediately even when it is dark, so be prepared to give it some time.

The chances of you catching anything directly from a wild bird are very remote. 

Birds have higher body temperatures than humans and as a result, humans do not act as hosts to bird parasites which require warmer temperatures for survival. If mites or feather lice from a bird do get on you, simply wash your hands with soap and the parasites will wash away.

If you are afraid of touching the bird, get a friend or neighbor to pick it up or pick it up using a towel or gloves. If a bird has visible parasites on it, it is a sign that it is in really bad shape and in need of immediate help even more than its injury would indicate.

  • No one may have in his/her possession any native wild species of bird without special State and Federal permits.
  • No one may tamper with or destroy any occupied nest of a native wild species. Such a nest may be destroyed only when not in use (after breeding season ends and the birds have left).
  • No one may kill any native species except a properly licensed hunter during an authorized hunting season. So-called “nuisance birds” may be disposed of only after securing a depredation permit from the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner’s office.
  • No one may legally possess feathers, body parts or the carcass of a native species without the appropriate State and Federal permits.
If you find a sick or dead bird in your yard, on your feeders, or on your birdbaths and are able to catch it, please contact your local wildlife rescue center ASAP. Remove and thoroughly clean all feeders and bathes immediately, following the tips found here.
Baby Wrens at the Bird Rescue Center

Didn’t find an answer here?

Check out our other FAQs in this section. Still have questions?

Give us a call — 707 523-2473 [BIRD]

Support our work — make a secure online donation with PayPal. Just click on the donate button and follow the easy steps. You will receive an electronic acknowledgment that can be used as a tax receipt. We and the birds thank you!

Donate Here