It’s normal for birds resting or nesting atop a chimney to get stuck. This usually happens when they wander inside and reach the fireplace but find it hard to fly back up, thereby getting stuck and stranded in the process. So what are some of the things you should do when a bird gets stuck in a fireplace?
Here are 6 things you should do if a bird gets stuck in a fireplace:
- Determine the bird’s exact location.
- Close all windows and doors, leaving only one exit.
- Turn off the lights and make sure everything’s quiet.
- Slightly open the fireplace door.
- Toss a towel or large, breathable sheet to trap the bird.
- Carry the towel outside gently and release the bird.
If you’re reading this, then you most probably want to learn how to safely remove a bird stuck in your chimney or fireplace. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best things to do when a bird gets stuck in your fireplace.
1. Determine the Bird’s Exact Location
The first step to observe when you suspect a bird is stuck in your chimney or fireplace is to confirm the exact location. A stuck bird will be uneasy, often making rustling, flapping, and scratching sounds. You might notice the sounds increasing whenever the TV is on or when people are moving closer to its location.
The easiest way to know if a bird is stuck in your fireplace is by viewing through the fireplace screen. But you can also hear loud noises coming from the fireplace, which should come off as an indication that you’ve got a guest stuck right next to you.
If you left your damper open, it’s highly likely that a bird resting or nesting on the chimney might fly right into the fireplace and get stuck. However, if there’s no sign of a bird in the fireplace, you can open the damper and use a flashlight to determine if the bird is somewhere up the chimney.
2. Close All Windows and Doors, Leaving Only One Exit
If the bird is stuck in the fireplace, chances are it’s waiting for the slightest opportunity to break free. And while there’s no issue with the bird flying to freedom, it might end up confused and even injured if let out of the fireplace to a large room with several exits available.
Even worse, the bird might end up stuck in another part of your home, forcing you to come up with new escape strategies.
Therefore, before handling the fireplace, close all windows and openings, leaving only one large window or door to act as the exit.
The trick is to leave the largest door open. But if it’s nighttime and the door is poorly lit, you can open your largest window provided it’s well lit. However, for the bird’s safety, releasing it during the day is highly recommended.
Remember, the idea in this stage is to ensure that in case the bird escapes the fireplace, it’ll have a path to follow as it flies for safety. This step can save you a lot of work and significantly shorten the rescue mission.
3. Turn Off the Lights and Make Sure Everything’s Quiet
Before opening your fireplace, it’s crucial to create a conducive rescue environment by drawing curtains and closing doors in all but one area– the exit location.
Having only one well-lit area will allow you to create an escape route for the bird (in case it flies out immediately after you open the fireplace). This means that once you open the fireplace, the bird won’t get stranded as it will instinctively fly towards the light.
Another pro tip to observe is silence.
Have everyone at home put their gadgets on silent and keep quiet throughout the rescue mission. No TV, no music, and definitely no chit-chat if the goal is to have a smooth operation.
The quieter a room is, the more comfortable a bird will be, especially as you try to remove it from the fireplace.
4. Slightly Open the Fireplace Door
Once you’ve drawn the curtains and muted the TV, next is to open the fireplace door. If you don’t fancy handling birds and want the bird to fly away, you can open the fireplace door completely and hope the bird will fly away.
If the escape path is well lit and everyone is quiet, chances are the bird might choose to follow the light and fly away.
Opening the fireplace door also allows you to close the damper, which should help keep the bird trapped in the fireplace until you complete the rescue procedure.
If you don’t want the bird to escape from the fireplace, make sure the door is slightly opened–just enough to give you access. If the room is dark, the bird won’t be tempted to fly away, allowing you to take the next step.
5. Toss a Towel or Large, Breathable Sheet To Trap the Bird
If the bird is scared and decides to stay put, you might need to remove it from the fireplace manually.
Open the fireplace door partially and take a towel or a large piece of breathable sheet and throw it on top of the bird to trap it. The bird might try to resist and flap uncontrollably, hence the need to maintain silence to avoid making it more stressed and anxious.
Using a large towel is a great idea as it’s thick, meaning it can protect you from the bird’s claws and beak. However, a large breathable sheet can also get the job done, more so when dealing with relatively small species.
6. Carry the Towel Outside Gently and Release the Bird
The last step is the easiest and should take you a few minutes. Grab both ends of the towel and carry the trapped bird outside. Try to avoid running, screaming, or shouting in excitement (or fear) as it’ll only make the bird more stressed.
Ideally, you should carry the bird gently and release it outside. If you’re scared of birds and don’t want to come into contact with them, request a family member or a neighbor to help you carry the towel and release the bird outside.
Steps To Take if a Bird Is Stuck in the Chimney
If the damper is closed, then a nesting or resting bird might find its way inside the chimney and get stuck. If that happens, we’d recommend observing the following steps to rescue the bird.
Open the Fireplace Damper
If a bird is stuck in a chimney, then it might be struggling to fly up again and might be in desperate need of an alternative escape route.
Opening the fireplace damper will give the bird access to the fireplace, which is a strategic-enough location for you to rescue it (we just covered all those steps!). Therefore, if you’re sure the bird is stuck and not nesting, open the damper before proceeding to the next step.
Place a Large Enough Box Inside the Fireplace
Get a large enough box and place it inside the fireplace with the open side facing up. Ideally, you should place the box on the fireplace grate, but you can also place it on another box to make sure it’s close enough to the top of the fireplace.
The idea is to give the bird a smooth entry into the box, ensuring it doesn’t miss the box and instead fly into the fireplace.
Use a Flashlight To Illuminate the Box
The goal of setting up an open box in the fireplace is to convince the bird to ditch the chimney and instead fly there for safety. However, due to darkness in the chimney, the bird might not see the box, hence the need to illuminate it. You can use a flashlight to illuminate the box and make it visible to the bird.
Remember, for the bird to fly from the chimney, it must be convinced that the box is a safer location.
As a result, you should turn off the TV and ensure the house is quiet enough, lest the bird becomes scared and decides to stay in place. The bird will fly into the box if convinced it’s an escape.
Seal the Box
After the bird has made its way inside the large box, next is to seal it with a large enough cardboard sheet. Doing so will keep the bird trapped and prevent it from flying back up the chimney.
Without wasting any time, take the box outside and remove the cardboard sheet to free the bird.
What To Do if a Bird Nests in Your Chimney
Birds tend to nest almost anywhere they feel is safe. And an unused chimney is usually a favorite spot for species like the Chimney Swift. A bird nesting in your chimney won’t make as much noise as a distressed one that’s stuck.
Therefore, if you see bird droppings or hear wings flapping but without sounds of distress, chances are you might be dealing with a nesting bird.
Nesting birds and their eggs are usually protected by law, meaning you shouldn’t force them out. Instead, it’s best to allow the bird to nest and the eggs to hatch. While this can take a while, it’s usually the best option for you and the birds.
For instance, Chimney Swifts tend to nest for around 20 days, and babies will learn to fly in about 40-45 days, meaning you can expect to have a nesting bird on your chimney for approximately 2 months. The good news is that these birds tend to fly out on their own and will only need your assistance if they get stuck.
How To Prevent Birds From Nesting in Your Chimney
The best way to prevent birds from nesting in your chimney is by cleaning up your chimney to remove the nest and installing a chimney cap. This cap will keep birds out, ensuring you won’t have to deal with nesting or trapped birds in the future.
When removing nests and cleaning chimneys, it’s best to take extra caution as these wild birds tend to carry parasites. As a result, it’s always advisable to consult a professional chimney sweeper to handle the cleaning business.
Dangers of Having Birds in Your Chimney
A bird stuck in a chimney might die if not rescued, hence the need to act fast. Additionally, if you’re unaware of a bird stuck in your chimney and you start a fire, the bird is likely to die of smoke and heat.
A bird living or stuck in a chimney can also expose you to risks.
For instance, a bird nest can clog your chimney and lead to a chimney fire if you start a fire without the knowledge of its presence.
Additionally, the smoke can billow back inside, which can be dangerous for you and your family. Due to this, having your chimney thoroughly cleaned and inspected every year is recommended before putting your fireplace to use.
Did you know that bird droppings can leave you infected with histoplasmosis? While this disease isn’t fatal for the common adult, it can prove extremely dangerous for infants and seniors with compromised immunity.
Additionally, wild birds are carriers of pests like mites, fleas, and ticks. These pests can carry harmful diseases and infect both people and pets in the house–effectively putting everyone at risk.
Can I Do the Cleaning Work on My Own?
You can do the cleaning work on your own once the bird has left. Should you choose to clean up, be thorough and use protective clothing to prevent any spores or mites from coming into contact with you. You should also take extra care when removing bird droppings.
As a good rule of thumb, always take a shower after cleaning up or removing bird droppings. The best option, however, is to leave the job to experienced professionals who know the do’s and don’ts of chimney sweeping.
Not only is this the safer option, but it also ensures the chimney is cleaned thoroughly, thereby leaving your home free of any infestations.