If a bird is stuck in your chimney, open a door that leads outside. Then, open the fireplace doors and damper to allow the bird to escape. Get ready to escort the bird out of your home by putting on gloves and a face mask. Next, grab a towel. When the bird comes down to the fireplace, cover it with the towel and gently scoop it up while keeping its head covered. Once the bird is safely covered, take it outside, place it gently on the ground, and back away with your towel in hand. If this method does not work, call a wildlife removal service that can handle birds in your chimney.
How Do You Know if a Bird is in Your Chimney?
Sound is a sure sign of a bird trapped or nesting in your chimney. Chirping, scratching, flapping, or even a repetitive shredding-like noise can indicate you have a bird or nest in your chimney. If the sounds are frantic and distressed, the bird is likely stuck and does not want to be there. You may also notice a foul odor or droppings in your fireplace. We advise against checking through the top of the chimney to look for birds. Climbing onto your roof for this purpose can be risky.
- You hear flapping, scratching, and bird calls coming from inside your chimney.
- The smell and appearance of white bird droppings in your fireplace.
- Wild birds that become trapped in a chimney generally become frantic as they look for a way out.
- Birds that are nesting in your chimney will not leave on their own and must be relocated by a professional.
Sometimes, birds decide to nest in your chimney. When birds such as chimney swifts do so, they are typically less noisy unless disturbed. However, you will hear sounds at different points throughout the day. If you believe you have a nest in your chimney, the animals will not leave on their own. In the event of birds building a nest in your chimney, you should call a professional service that removes wildlife from chimneys.
4 Steps to Get a Bird Out of Your Chimney
If you hear a bird calling and flapping a lot, it likely ventured too far into the chimney and cannot get out. This can happen to many species of birds. You may be able to help the bird out yourself by following these steps:
Do Not Attempt to Scare the Bird Out
Do not use your fireplace. If anything, you should clean it out completely to allow a trapped bird to escape. We do not recommend trying to scare a bird that is stuck either. Not only will it stress the bird out more (which can cause death) but depending on your chimney’s opening it might not be possible for the bird to wriggle its way out at the top.
- Do not “smoke out” a bird or use the fireplace at all.
- Do not scare the bird; it won’t help it leave and will only stress the animal out more.
- Clean out your fireplace so the bird can escape through it later.
Another reason to avoid potentially harming the bird via smoke or fright is that it might be illegal depending on the type of bird stuck in your chimney. Unless you are extremely familiar with bird calls, it will be challenging to tell what species of bird is stuck in your chimney.
Prepare to Aid the Bird
Prepare to help the bird escape. Wear disposable or washable work gloves and a face mask for the job. Then, grab a towel. A lightweight towel is best. It should be at least as big as a hand towel to properly cover the bird while you handle it. Other cloth items—such as baby blankets and pillowcases—work for this purpose as well.
- Wear a face mask and gloves.
- Find a lightweight towel or cloth that is a little bigger than a hand towel.
- Be sure the area is clear of children and pets.
The towel will be used to keep the bird calm and prevent flapping during transport. The gloves, towel, and mask work to protect you from any parasites the bird may have. Be sure to wash the cloth (and gloves, if made of fabric) after you use them to handle any wild animal.
Create an Exit Path
Open the exterior door nearest the fireplace so you can easily get the bird outside. Then, open the fireplace doors. Finally, open the fireplace damper so the bird can exit the bottom of the chimney, into the fireplace. It’s a good idea to remove excess material from your fireplace beforehand so the bird can tell it is an exit.
- Open an exterior door, so the bird can be taken outside quickly.
- Open the fireplace doors.
- Use the lever at the top of the fireplace interior to open the damper, so the bird can enter the fireplace from the flue.
- Wait quietly for the bird to come forth.
It helps to be ready with the cloth nearby. You’ll want to spring into action quickly when the bird emerges, otherwise, you may end up with a bird flying around your home. That is another reason to have an outside door open prior to attempting bird removal. If the bird does fly past you, it may go straight outside.
Gently Relocate the Bird
When the bird plops down into your fireplace, quickly place the towel over it and scoop it up so that it is covered and cannot spread its wings, but not so tight that it cannot breathe. Hold the bird with one hand on each side of its body. Then, quickly bring it outside.
- The easiest way to ensure the bird has left the building is to take it outside yourself with the towel.
- When the bird lands in the fireplace, toss the cloth over it and carefully pick it up with two hands, one on each of its sides.
- Do not hold the bird too tightly—birds need to move their chests to breathe.
- Bring the bird outside quickly and place it in a safe place in your yard, preferably near a brush that it can hide in.
You should place the bird on the ground near bushes so it can quickly hide and recover from its stressful day. If a mishap occurs while trying to capture the bird, do not panic! The bird should be able to fly out of the open door with a little encouragement.
How Do You Get Nesting Birds Out of a Chimney?
If you can hear multiple birds and suspect there is a nest in your chimney, you should call a wildlife removal specialist. The species that is most likely to nest in a chimney is the aptly named chimney swift. These swifts are federally protected migratory birds. You could be in legal trouble for disturbing their nests. If you must have them gone, contact local experts who are licensed for wildlife removal. They will relocate birds that have nested in your chimney.
How Do You Get Birds Out of Your Chimney?
If you’ve heard strange noises in your chimney and are worried about a bird being in there, take these steps to help it out or have a nest relocated:
- Determine if the bird is trapped – it will sound frantic and flap a lot.
- If a lone bird is stuck in your chimney you can help it exit your home through the fireplace.
- Clear out your fireplace.
- Wear a face mask and gloves.
- Have a hand towel or small blanket ready.
- Open doors that lead outside and clear the area of pets and children.
- Slowly open the fireplace doors and the damper of the chimney.
- Wait silently for the bird to emerge, then cover it with the towel and scoop it up.
- Take the bird outside and leave it near some protective foliage.
- If you suspect you have a nest of birds in your chimney, call a wildlife removal expert.
If you aren’t able to capture the bird yourself, you can find wildlife relocation services online that offer help in such situations. Remember, chimney swifts are federally protected so if you believe there are some in your chimney it is always best to have a licensed professional remove them for you.