How to Get a Bird Out of Your House

Follow these quick tips to survive an avian invasion, without hurting the bird.

sparrow on top of a building

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"There's a bird in the house!" is not a phrase generally uttered in a tranquil tone. More often, it's delivered with a racing heartbeat and an alarmed cry.

Whether the idea of a bird batting about your head makes you cringe—many people suffer from ornithophobia, and if you do, don't read 5 birds that could steal your toddler, really—or whether your empathetic side puts you in "Quick! Must-save-bird!" overdrive, a flapping, freaked-out avian visitor can be cause for panic. Fear not! Here's what you need to know about handling this situation calmly and effectively.

Calm Down

The first thing to do is relax and stay calm, says Columbus Audubon. This is not an emergency, just a minor inconvenience. Your nervous yelps and panting are only going to scare the poor thing, and it's probably much more frightened than you are. Usher out any pets that may add to the chaos—or eat the bird—and any additional family or household members whose help you do not need. Turn off any ceiling fans and burners and put lids over hot pots on the stove, if it's in the kitchen.

Close Off the Room

Since the bird is going to head for light, it's important to close the curtains on all windows except one—the one you will now open as widely as possible (and remove the screen if there is one). Even better if you have an external door, which provides a larger opening for the bird.

Block off other interior doors to prevent the bird from heading elsewhere in the house. If there's no door, you may have to do this by standing in the doorway holding up a sheet or towel to close it off.

Turn off any lights to darken the room (and neighboring rooms) as much as possible, which will allow the light of the open window or door to act as a beacon to guide the bird out. The brighter the exit, the better. Leave the room and the little guy should find its way out within seconds.

If That Doesn't Work...

If a substantial amount of time has passed and the bird remains inside, you can hold up a spread-out sheet or cloth to try to herd the bird toward the window or door without touching it. Some suggest tossing a towel on the bird and scooping it up, but birds are exceedingly sensitive to pressure and this should only be done as a last-ditch effort.

You can also calmly chase the bird around the room to tire it out. Eventually it will stop flying and rest on a perch, at which point you might be able to scoop it gently into a box using a towel. Cover the box with the towel and carry it outdoors to release. Be sure to wash your hands before handling a bird in any way, as the oils on your hands can damage its feathers. Never swat at a bird with a broom.

If all else fails, seek out the help of a wildlife removal professional; they will have the proper gear and should have species-specific smarts to help get the the trapped bird out.