Is it safe to grab a bird?

three birds on a branch of tree

Every year, migratory birds traverse through long, difficult routes between breeding and wintering lands. Birds usually migrate from north to south and face many natural and man-made hazards, including starvation, storms, hunting, and collisions with wind turbines and airplanes.

But they must migrate to better quality habitats for breeding at the cost of energy expenditure and predatory risks.

So, catching migratory birds is prohibited. However, we know that you might have wondered about the question of how to see a bird in your house.

If you ever find a bird who needs to be rescued or want to pet a bird at home, there are certain techniques for handling them with care.

If you are unaware of these handling techniques, then this is what the post intends to educate you about.

Is It Illegal to Catch Migratory Birds?


Yes, it is illegal to catch migratory birds at home in any way. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 is a US federal law for protecting the migratory birds passing between Canada and the US.

Another law on Canada’s end for protecting migratory birds is the Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1917. There are about 1,100 species of birds that migrate between the two North American countries every year. Currently, the number of species migrating has been reduced to 1,093.

These laws aim to protect the birds and their eggs from being hunted, trafficked, and commercialized. Similar statutes have been passed by other nations, such as Russia, Mexico (1936), and Japan (1972).

So, you cannot capture them at home under any conditions and need special permits if you want to engage in such activities.

How to Rescue a Bird?


If you ever spot a bird that is hurt and needs rescuing, you must know how to handle it carefully, especially if you are an amateur. This is essential to ensure that you don’t cause further injuries to the bird and don’t get hurt yourself instead.

Although birds don’t carry any infections, washing hands after catching a bird is still advised. The avian species are free of rabies, but some birds can bite hard, and birds of prey can cause severe injuries with their talons.

  • Use the two-handled grip technique for medium birds – One way to secure the bird is to wrap both hands on its back and lift it cautiously. Let it rest its feet on your fingers to get a better grip.
  • Two-handled grip for small birds – In the case of small birds, enclose the bird within your hands and leave some room between your fingers to ensure that you aren’t applying too much pressure or squeezing the little bird.
  • One-handled grip for small birds – Hold the bird’s neck between your index and middle finger and wrap the wings with your thumb and ring finger. The little finger acts as a perch for the bird’s feet.
  • Use a net – A soft mesh net is the easiest way to catch a bird. Avoid crushing the bird’s head, wings, or legs while lifting it.
  • Use a towel, jacket, or blanket – Perhaps the easiest way to wrap birds carefully is to drop a large towel or blanket over it and then carefully wrap it around to lift it.

How Do You Handle a Bird Pet with Care?


Avians are fragile both emotionally and physically. Hence, harsh and bold treatment is not meant for them. One has to learn how to be gentle around them. The tips below will guide you better on how to handle them correctly.

  • Never squeeze, shake, or strike your bird – Birds have complex anatomy to support their flight mechanisms. Therefore, it is essential to handle them gently and carefully to ensure their bones aren’t broken or their internal organs aren’t severely damaged. You must practice bonding techniques to prevent them from resisting or struggling when you hold or pet them.
  • Never hold a bird by its wings, legs, or tail – It is never alright to grab your bird by their wings or tail because this might scare the little avians and cause unexpected trauma and injury. Instead, train them with some step-up commands so they climb onto your hand or finger on their own when you give them those commands. This will enable them to get comfortable with you and move freely instead of giving them scary trips each time you try to catch them.

Concluding Thoughts

The International Bird Trade is a multibillion-dollar industry, and multiple species of exotic birds fall prey to humans yearly.

In Malta, hunters kill millions of birds as migratory flocks of birds pass over Malta every year. According to scientists, bycatch from commercial fisheries is another reason for inadvertently killing between 2,000 and 45,000 migratory birds yearly.

So, now you know that catching a migratory bird at home is an illegal action. You have also become aware of how to rescue birds safely. You have also learned how to handle birds with care and affection and treat them well.

David Wilson
David Wilson, who has a Master’s in Agricultural Sciences from Texas A&M University, became part of our team in 2023. His expertise lies in innovative gardening technologies, particularly aeroponics, where he has over 8 years of experience. David’s prior roles include working as a research scientist for agricultural tech firms, focusing on sustainable food production. Moreover, David collaborated on urban farming initiatives and taught community gardening workshops. His hobbies include woodworking and exploring the outdoors.

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