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San Diego Humane Society

Birds Stuck in Buildings

Background Information

  • Project Wildlife gets many calls every year with callers needing help with situations where birds are trapped in homes, warehouses, stores and various outbuildings.
  • These can include hummingbirds, sparrows, finches, hawks and owls.
  • Most birds trapped in homes will instinctively fly up and toward light such as that coming from high windows and upstairs doors.
  • Those birds in stores and warehouses will instinctively fly up to skylights and high windows.
  • Owls and hawks are sometimes in these buildings hunting prey such as pigeons, small birds and rodents.


Bird Trapped in a House
  • If a bird is trapped in a house please be advised, it is best to confine it in as small an area and near an open door as possible by closing all doors to other parts of the house, close the shutters or drapes on all windows and cover any skylights to prevent any light from getting in.
    • Open any window or patio door if it leads to the outside and turn off all interior lights.
    • This will leave the open door or window as the brightest place and the only way out attract the bird to the light.
  • Encourage the bird toward the exit with a broom or similar object without harming the animal. It may sometimes be necessary to wait until the bird is so exhausted that it can be safely captured and released outside.
  • Examine the bird and bring the animal to the Project Wildlife Care Center if they suspect any injuries.
Bird Trapped in a Warehouse or Store
  • If a bird is trapped in a store or warehouse, start by making the building as dark as possible by turning off the lights and covering any skylights because birds are attracted to the light and tend to stay in those high places.
  • It sometime works best to wait until dusk (or dawn), leave a large door open to the outside and have a light on around the outside of the large warehouse door or main store door.
  • Please note: some birds will nest in these buildings and may not be trapped at all.

When to seek Project Wildlife Help

  • Nocturnal birds such as owls may actually be hunting in the building and will not leave until after dark which may require the doors to be left open at night.
  • Some of these birds will be difficult to get to leave until they become weak and come to the ground.
  • These birds should be examined for injuries may have to come to the Care Center.
  • Contact animal control if you need assistance. 
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