How to tell if a bird is dead or stunned - Birdwatching Buzz (2023)

How to tell if a bird is dead or stunned - Birdwatching Buzz (1)

At some point during your birding life, you may find a bird lying on the ground and unable to fly away. Or you had a bird fly right into your window at home. But how do you know if the bird is just stunned or really dead?

One of the best ways to tell if a bird is dead or dizzy is to check if it's breathing. To do this, you must look at the bird's chest and abdomen to see if it is breathing. You could also listen carefully to see if you can hear a heartbeat, or touch a bird to try to feel it.

If the bird is still breathing or you feel a heartbeat, it's best to leave it alone for ten minutes to see if it recovers on its own. To check if the bird is breathing, watch the bird's chest and belly rise and fall.

Finally, if you have a stethoscope handy, you can easily hear your bird's heartbeat. Although the heartbeat appears to be quite weak, the bird is alive and will likely recover. If you don't have a stethoscope, place your ear against the bird's chest and listen.


  • 1 Other ways to tell if a bird is alive
  • 2 What to do if a bird flies in your window?
  • 3 How to tell if a bird is really dead
  • 4 things to avoid when spotting a stunned bird
  • 5 frequently asked questions
  • 6 Final Considerations

Other ways to know if the bird is still alive

In addition to checking that the bird is breathing and has a heartbeat, there are other signs that the bird is dazed but still very active. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Make sure the bird's legs and feet are contracted...which could mean that the bird was recovering from the shock of the coma.
  • attention when blinking.Even frightened birds blink. Also, the eyes must be open.
  • Check the bird's temperature if you can.The normal body temperature of most birds is around 102 to 109 degrees Fahrenheit. However, remember that birds' body temperature can drop if they are in shock.
  • the bird's head can be tilted to one side.Furthermore, the feathers will lie flat or even on one side.
  • if the bird is scared, can be fluffy and very weak, and can show slow breathing. You may also notice that the bird opens its beak and breathes through it.

How to tell if a bird is dead or stunned - Birdwatching Buzz (2)

What if a bird flies through your window?

If you're sitting indoors and you hear birds chirping outside your window, here are some things you should do:

  • find the bird... It could have landed directly under the window, or it could have been several feet away.
  • observe a bird without touching it.When you find a bird, watch it for a few minutes. Maybe he was just a little dizzy and could fly away when he came to.
  • Study the bird carefully.If the bird does not heal on its own, you can carefully pick it up and check it for injuries. Wear gloves if you can. This will protect you from pecking or scratching if the bird suddenly recovers. If the bird has obvious injuries, you may want to contact a wildlife rescue organization who can care for the bird and treat the injuries. If no obvious injuries are seen, help him recover safely.
  • Create a safe sanctuary for your bird and help it recover.Find a box and make sure it is big enough for the bird to spread its wings after recovery. Place a newspaper or old towel in the box for comfort.
  • put the bird in the box.Do this carefully so as not to hurt the bird. Place the box in a warm and relatively quiet location. If that means bringing the box inside, be sure to keep the lid closed, but make sure there are enough ventilation holes for the birds to breathe. Keeping the bird in the dark while it recovers can help reduce stress.
  • Add to a shallow dish with a very small amount of water..This will help rehydrate the bird while it recovers. However, make sure there's only a little bit of water left so the bird doesn't drown if the container overturns.
  • Let the bird rest in the box for up to 4 hours.Some birds recover in 10 minutes, while others take about three to four hours. Try to resist the temptation to open the box every few minutes, as it's best to let the bird recover on its own without additional stress.
  • Release the bird again after recovery.If you hear movement in the box, the bird may have recovered and is ready to fly. Carefully remove the box and open the lid. The bird must fly out of the box immediately after opening the lid. But if not, let the bird crawl on your hand and remove it from the box. Then he must fly away.

How to tell if a bird is dead or stunned - Birdwatching Buzz (3)

interesting fact

Find out why birds peck at your windows here.

How to tell if a bird is really dead

In addition to a lack of breathing or a heartbeat, there are other signs that the bird may be dead. Here's what you need to be aware of:

  • Check for stiffness in the legs and feet. The leg muscles of a dead bird will be stiff, while the foot and leg muscles of a newly stunned bird will remain limp.
  • Check your eyes. If you can't see any blinking or movement in the bird's eyes, it's probably dead. Dead birds will also be blindfolded.
  • Do the feathers stick together?
  • The bird will feel stiff and will be in a stiff position, usually neck up.

Things you should avoid doing when you spot a stunned bird

If you find a stunned bird and want to help it recover, there are a few things you should avoid.

  • Do not feed the bird as it is not necessary and could even harm it.
  • Do not attempt to physically examine a bird unless you have a lot of experience in that area.
  • Never give a bird any medicine.
  • Be sure to keep your pets and small children away from this bird.
  • Do not attempt to keep the bird as a pet once it has recovered. Wild birds go wild. Also, you need special permission to keep certain species as pets.
  • Never release a bird indoors, as this will cause additional stress and may even injure the bird.
  • Never touch birds of prey, as these birds can be very dangerous if they suddenly recover from shock. If you happen to see a stunned bird of prey, call a rescue or rehabilitation service immediately, as they are trained to handle these birds.

How to tell if a bird is dead or stunned - Birdwatching Buzz (4)

common questions

Do birds die from being stunned?

A stunned bird can die from injuries or become a prime target for predators.

How long will the bird be unconscious?

It can take about two to three hours for a stunned bird to fully recover and be able to fly away.

Can you perform CPR on a bird?

Yes, it is indeed possible to perform CPR on a bird to revive it, but you must be gentle and do the chest compressions only with your fingertips. It is still not recommended to do this on wild birds unless you have a lot of experience handling birds. Wild birds can transmit a variety of diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

Why do birds get dizzy?

The most common way to stun a bird is when it accidentally flies into a window. Birds don't know that the window is solid and they can only see the reflection in the glass.

final thoughts

Hopefully now you can tell if a bird you found on the ground is stunned or dead. The most common signs are if the bird is breathing and has a heartbeat. In addition, there are other signs to look for.

If the bird is just stunned, there are a few things you can do to help it recover. Placing it in a secure cardboard box and keeping it in a warm environment will help the bird recover faster, rather than leaving it outside and risking predators finding it.

Be sure to release him back into the wild after he recovers. Most importantly, if the bird has visible injuries or if you find a bird of prey that has been stunned, call in a professional wildlife handler who knows how to safely dispose of the bird and return it to its natural habitat.


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