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How To Tell If A Bird Is Dead


How To Tell If A Bird Is Dead

We have all been there. You see a bird on the ground, and you don’t know if it is dead or not. Many people are curious about how to tell if a bird is dead. 

It can be challenging to know for sure, but some signs will indicate whether or not the animal has passed on. If you want to know more about this, then this blog post will help. It provides information on how to tell if a bird is dead and what to do next.

How To Tell If A Bird Is Dead

There are many reasons one should know how to tell if a bird is dead. It is an important question and one that has many different answers depending on the type of bird in question. Sometimes people enjoy birds as pets, and they want to make sure that their pet isn’t suffering or sick before continuing to care for it. 

Other times, someone will find an injured or dying bird in the wild and would like to help save it rather than let it suffer. And of course, sometimes people just want to know how to tell if a bird is dead because they are curious about nature.

No matter what your reason for wanting to learn how to tell if a bird is dead, there are some pretty simple ways that you can determine if the bird has passed away or not. If you find a dead bird, there are some simple steps to take when determining if it is really deceased or just injured.

If the bird is lying flat on its stomach and not moving, it’s probably dead. Birds may play dead to avoid predators, so this isn’t a sure sign but can be helpful. Look for signs of trauma or injury such as blood, open wounds, broken bones or wings that are out of place. If there are open wounds and blood, and the bird is not moving, it is most likely dead.

If you find a bird with any of these signs above and it is not moving, put on some gloves and try to pick up the bird. Birds may play dead, so this method will help determine whether or not they are injured or truly deceased.

A live animal has warmth in its body that can be felt when touched by a human hand. A live bird should have a strong, steady heartbeat that can be felt with your fingers by placing them on the chest just behind the eye and above the leg. 

It is normal to feel a bit of movement as it breathes, which you will also notice in their chests moving up and down beneath your fingers. If you pick the bird up and feel no warmth or heartbeat, it is probably very safe to say that it passed away recently.

A live bird has bright eyes that are wide open. A dead bird’s eyes may be partly closed or appear to be all white with no pupil visible, but not always. If the pupils are very dilated, it is an indication of death as well because only a living animal will have active reflexes where their iris changes size due to light and darkness.

A live bird has a warm body that feels pliable to the touch when held in your hand, not cold and stiff like a dead one is likely to be. If it is cold to the touch and generally lifeless, you can be sure that it has been dead for a few hours.

If you see the bird on its back, it may be sleeping. Birds sleep with their feet tucked under them, and therefore they will sometimes land like this when they fall asleep. These are some of the ways to tell if a bird is truly deceased or just injured. 

While it’s hard to say how long ago this happened with absolute certainty, using these methods and determining what specific signs of death the bird in question has, you will have a better idea of what to do next. If you find a dead bird, put on gloves before handling them because some birds carry diseases like salmonella.

What Should You Do If You’re Not Sure?

  • If you are unsure if the bird is alive or dead, place it in a box lined with tissue paper and close the lid.
  • If, after several hours, it has made no attempt to escape its confines, then you can assume that it is deceased.
  • Place your hand on the chest of the bird, covering both sides of the bird with your hand, and see if you can feel breathing.
  • If it does not respond to touch, then the chances are that it is dead.
  • If there has been no movement at all after several hours (watch for any respiratory movements like gasping or fluttering), assume that the bird is deceased.
  • You can use a mirror to check if its eyes are reacting to light or not by holding up a small compact one about two inches away from its face and looking at them through it. If you notice movement in reaction to the light, then it is likely that they are alive.

How To Tell When A Bird Is Sick

  • A healthy bird should not always remain in one position while perched; It should shift positions at least once every 20 minutes. If the bird is sick or injured, it may not be able to balance and shift positions. 
  • A healthy bird will also have a good appetite; if you notice that your pet is snacking less than normal, something could be wrong with its health. A loss of interest in food can indicate illness among birds just as it can for humans.
  • If the bird is unresponsive when approached, it may be sick. Birds are social creatures and will usually respond if you get close to them; they don’t feel well.
  • A healthy bird should have clear eyes, a smooth plumage with no lumps or bumps, pink skin on its feet (unless it’s an albino bird), and wings that are well-aligned when folded. If the eyes are closed, the skin is dry or bumpy, there are any visible lumps on its body, or if one of the wings looks broken in some way, then it’s not doing well.
  • If you notice your bird exhibiting unusual behaviour such as excessive preening or scratching, it may be sick. Birds will often preen themselves when they are stressed out to the point of illness; if you see this happening excessively, your bird may need medical attention.
  • If none of these behaviours is present and there appears to be nothing wrong with the way your bird looks, then it’s probably just sleeping or playing dead.

What Should You Do With A Dead Bird?

If you find a dead bird, keep in mind that it might be sick, and its body needs to decompose naturally. If the bird is fresh (less than 24 hours), it’s best not to touch or handle the bird at all. Leaving them alone allows nature to run its course with no interference from humans. The only exception would be if it’s injured and you can help the bird without touching it.

There are several ways to dispose of the body if it is an older carcass, but none are really pleasant. Disposal usually requires some digging to make sure no one will accidentally find the carcass. You can also contact your local animal control to pick up the dead bird, but it will probably be a fee.

One way is to bury it, but you have to be careful not to disturb the soil around it. Though burying a dead bird might seem like an easy disposal method, it can pose some dangers if done incorrectly.

Among these problems is that other animals will come and dig up the carcass if they smell it or see your failed attempt at burying it. Another issue is that the soil could be disturbed when burying it and cause severe damage to your garden. 

Birds can also spread contaminants from what they eat, so you don’t want them going through the dirt in your gardens or near food sources. One of these dangers is a risk for children who accidentally dig up a dead bird while playing in their yard. 

Birds can also spread contaminants from what they eat, so you don’t want them going through the dirt in gardens or near food sources. Make sure to check your municipality laws for proper disposal methods because there are some that require special treatment of dead birds and other animals.


When you find a dead bird, the best thing to do is leave it alone. If it’s in your yard or on your property, call animal control so they can come to get it and dispose of it properly. 

And if you see one that has just died but not yet fallen from its perch, gently nudge them over with something like an umbrella handle or stick while trying not to touch too much of their feathers since dead birds are carriers for diseases. 

We hope this blog post has helped answer your questions about identifying sick and dying birds.

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