The first time I saw a wild bird indoors, at my grandma’s house, I was so excited because I wanted to keep it. The grownups, meanwhile, were in a slight panic. Everybody in the house was in the room with the bird, gawking at it, hotly debating the best way to evict it. And the bird flapped around looking more and more terrified.
I don’t recall how that bird left the house, but I had a similar experience yesterday. Because we are nerds, I was called downstairs to identify the bird and answer our kids’ questions about it while my husband looked for a makeshift net.
I knew the answer on sight—it was a house wren — so I looked up what actual wildlife rescue organisations recommend people do with a bird in the house. And it worked. Here’s your plan:
First, Calm the Heck Down
The bird is already scared, and as people surround it, it will become even more scared. Our house wren was happily hopping around the living room when I first saw it, pecking at cracker crumbs my children had left on the floor. But within minutes it was flying restlessly between rooms.
If the bird is flapping around nonstop by the time you find it, you may have to wait to tire it out. But if it’s calm, try to keep it that way. Disperse the small crowd that may have gathered.
Make the Area Safe
Remove pets to another room. Turn off the ceiling fan, and cover any hot pots on the stove.
Choose an Exit
You’re going to try to get the bird to fly out an open door (or, if a door is not available, a window). If possible, find one that will look sunny and inviting — your front door, not a basement door.
Block the Other Windows and Doors
Darken the room, close any other doors, and close the curtains or blinds. Our kitchen doorway doesn’t have an actual door, so I had my husband stand in the doorway holding a towel like a curtain.
I opened the door to outside, and the wren was in the backyard within seconds.
If It Won’t Leave
A large or scary-looking bird is best left to professionals; call your local animal control or a wildlife rescue group.
For smaller birds, that’s still a good option, but if you feel you must capture the bird, do so gently. This works best once the bird has tired itself out a bit. The Columbus Audubon Society suggests setting a box next to the bird, and using a towel to nudge the bird into a box. (The towel can then become a lid for the box.)
Once you catch the bird, carefully set it free outside. Or if the bird is injured, contact your local wildlife rescue.