When You Find a Dead Bird in Your Yard

Finding a dead bird in your yard can be an unsettling experience. However, it’s fairly common and usually nothing to be too concerned about. Here’s a guide to dealing with a dead bird discovery in your backyard.

Examining the Bird

When you find a dead bird, the first step is to examine it more closely. Look for any visible injuries or wounds. Also note the condition of the feathers and if there are any maggots or insects on the body. A healthy bird that died suddenly likely passed away due to natural causes or trauma. An injured or ill bird may have succumbed to its wounds or disease.

Signs of a diseased bird include:

  • Disheveled, poor feather condition
  • Swelling around eyes, neck or legs
  • Discharge from eyes or nostrils
  • Unable to fly well or walking with difficulty

If the dead bird shows no clear signs of trauma or illness, natural causes are the most likely culprit.

Removing the Remains

Out of respect for the deceased creature, you’ll want to properly dispose of the body. Here are some tips for removing a dead bird from your yard:

  • Wear gloves when handling the remains to avoid direct contact.
  • Place the body in a plastic bag or wrap it in paper towels.
  • Dispose of the bagged bird in an outdoor garbage bin.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands after.

Never place the dead bird in compost. And avoid touching the body with bare hands, as there is a very small risk of contracting diseases.

Disinfecting Feeders and Birdhouses

As a precaution, you may want to clean and disinfect any bird feeders, birdhouses or bird baths on your property. Here’s how:

  • Remove all feed from feeders and scrub with a wire brush.
  • Wash with mild detergent and rinse thoroughly.
  • Disinfect with a 10% bleach solution, rinsed off after 10 minutes.
  • Allow feeders to fully dry before refilling with bird seed.

This helps prevent any potential spread of illness to other visiting birds.

Understanding Common Causes

There are a few usual explanations for an otherwise healthy bird dying spontaneously:

Window Collisions

Windows reflect the outdoors and can appear invisible to birds. Striking the glass results in deadly blows. Installing visible decals on windows can help prevent collisions.


Neighborhood cats and wild predators like hawks and raccoons often hunt songbirds for food. Some may leave behind bird carcasses.


Pesticides, insecticides and contaminated food/water can be lethal to birds. Avoid using such products if you want to protect backyard birds.

Territorial Battles

Some male birds fight to the death over mating territories and nesting sites. natural causes like old age or disease can also result in a dead bird.

When to Be Concerned

In most cases, finding an occasional dead bird on your property is nothing to worry about. But if multiple birds are rapidly dying in your yard, notify wildlife authorities. This may signify a dangerous outbreak like avian flu or poisoning. You’ll want to take steps to protect other birds in the area.

Providing a Safe Haven

While a dead bird can be disturbing, you can take comfort in providing a sanctuary for local birds in your yard. Ensure ample food, clean water and nesting sites are available. Avoid pesticides and let nature take its course. Your yard will continue to be a safe haven for wild and wonderful feathered creatures.

Frequently Asked Questions

What diseases can I catch from a dead bird?

The chances of contracting a disease from a dead bird are extremely low. As always, wear gloves when handling remains and wash hands afterwards. Only very rarely have infections like histoplasmosis occurred.

Will a dead bird attract other animals to my yard?

It’s possible scavengers like opossums or raccoons may be drawn to the carcass. But they likely won’t disturb your property. Just promptly dispose of the body in a sealed bag in an outdoor trash can.

Is it illegal to touch a dead wild bird?

No, there are no laws prohibiting handling a deceased wild bird on your property. Simply follow basic hygienic guidelines when removing the body.

What should I do if the dead bird is a raptor or migratory species?

Federal laws protect migratory birds, eagles and endangered species. Notify your state wildlife agency if the dead bird appears to be a protected type.

Could my cat be responsible for the dead bird?

It’s quite possible if you let your cat roam outdoors. Cats are skilled bird hunters and often kill regardless of being well-fed. Consider keeping your cat inside to help protect local songbirds.

In Conclusion

Coming across a deceased bird in your backyard may be a sad sight. But it’s fairly commonplace and nothing to panic over. Carefully examine the remains and dispose of properly. Also disinfect any bird feeders and houses. Understanding the various causes can give you peace of mind. In most cases, it’s simply nature taking its course. With some sensible precautions, your yard can continue providing a welcoming refuge for wild birds to thrive.