How to Help a Bird That Flew into a Window

If you find a bird that flew into a window, it's important to know what steps to take to help the stunned bird survive. Learn what the birding experts say.

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Earlier this week, I saw my first ever indigo bunting. Unfortunately, I saw it after it struck a window at the building where I work, and I was called in to help it out. I thought other bird lovers might sometimes face this situation and need to know how to handle it, so here are some simple tips on how to help a bird that flew into a window.

bird flew into windowJill Staake
Indigo bunting that struck a window

Approach Cautiously

Slowly walk toward the bird that flew into the window. If it immediately flies away, then your work is done. If it can’t fly away, it needs proper care. Please be aware that if the bird is only slightly stunned it may fly up suddenly as you approach. Even small songbirds can cause injuries and must be handled with care, for your protection and theirs.

If you spot an injured raptor or other large bird, such as heron or gull, do not try to handle it as they can be very dangerous. Monitor it from a safe distance and call a local wildlife office or rehabilitation center immediately for guidance.

Check out 5 ways to create a bird-safe backyard.

Get Help

Many bird rehabilitators agree that any stunned bird needs proper care. If it’s safe to do so, place the bird in a shoe box or a similar box with a lid with a paper towel or cloth under the bird for stability. Once the bird is secured, contact your local wildlife agency or wildlife rehabilitator for guidance.

Is It Illegal to Care for an Injured Bird?

Native birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Act. It’s usually not a problem to interact with injured birds to provide assistance, but private citizens are not allowed to keep them in captivity. Psst—here’s what to do if you find a bird nest with eggs or a baby bird.

How to Prevent Window Strikes

Of course, the best solution is to help birds avoid window strikes in the first place. Check your property for obstacles that may injure birds. Clear windows pose a danger, so consider installing insect screens or window films. They are generally inexpensive and can be installed on most windows.
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Jill Staake
Jill Staake's lifelong love of nature turned into a career during the years she spent working with native Florida butterflies, caterpillars, and other wildlife at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa, Florida. During this time, she helped to maintain 30+ acres of gardens and backwoods, all carefully cultivated to support the more than 20 species of butterflies displayed indoors and out. She now writes for a variety of publications and sites on topics like gardening and birding, among others.