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Bird Traps

All About Bird Traps

While there exist many methods for catching birds, bird traps represent the most humane way of handling the problem. And while acknowledging that there are those who catch birds for food or sport, the scope of this article deals mainly with ways to catch birds of prey, as well as those causing damage or spreading disease.

The decision to trap is made once it’s been determined that a particular species is:

  • Destroying crops.
  • Defacing and damaging property.
  • Destroying wildlife habitat.
  • Killing other birds or animals.
  • Spreading disease.
  • Creating an inordinate amount of noise.
  • Involuntarily creating a safety hazard.
  • Needed for research or falconry.

Trap types and methods are determined by several factors:

  1. Whether or not the target species is:
    1. A nuisance to be euthanized after capture.
    2. Being trapped for subsequent relocation.
    3. Being trapped for “collection” purposes.
  1. Which species is being trapped.
  2. Migratory patterns.
  3. Season.
  4. Location of the trap.
  5. Federal or state laws and requisite permits.
  6. Risk of injury or trauma to captured birds.

There are several types of bird traps used, depending on the application or species:

Mist Nets. Though not technically classified as bird traps, mist nets are used to humanely catch small birds and bats. They are especially useful in areas where an irregularly- shaped passageway exists, such as in the upper reaches of a mall, supermarket, warehouse or stadium. They are designed to not injure birds, but only if they are checked on a regular basis.

Closing Net Trap. A cross between mist and enclosure traps, small models can be attached to walls or trees, and are suitable for trapping pigeons, starlings and woodpeckers. Larger units can be used to trap bigger birds such as grackles, ravens, and crows.

Freestanding Trap. Used to catch larger birds, these take the form of different sized cages. Depending on the size of the bird, these may be used to catch only one or two birds, or in the case of “repeaters,” designed to collect a group of birds over a specified period of time. These traps hold up to 30 pigeons, depending on the model used. Some models are designed to allow birds entry, as well as room to move around in such a way that they don’t become frightened enough to emit distress calls, thus defeating the purpose of the trap.

Enclosure Trap. Cages are periodically attached to the fronts of birdhouses or openings in buildings, trapping birds that attempt to fly out.

Noose, Bownet, Bal-chatri, Dho-gaza. These types of traps are commonly used for capture of falcons and hawks, all relying on entanglement to snare the bird. Though designs are easily attainable, capture of these particular birds of prey should not be attempted without first consulting authorities and trained professionals.

Keep in mind that while you can build your own traps or enclosures, you may not have the materials, time or expertise to include all the features needed to do the job right, and also ensure that captured birds are not injured or traumatized. In addition, commercially available traps are structurally designed to withstand transport and delivery to a subsequent release location, without having to transfer birds from one enclosure to another.

As to location and timing, make sure traps are placed where they are not likely to catch cats, raccoons or other animals. Take into consideration, as well, the impact on the target species, avoiding times when nesting may be taking place.  In order to avoid trapping something other than birds, use the appropriate bait. As to the captured birds themselves, there are several things that must be done to ensure they are not harmed during captivity. Make sure all cages have been covered enough to prevent injury from heat, moisture or excessive cold. Check the cages on a regular basis. Even if the goal is to later euthanize the catch, trappers must ensure that captured birds are not injured or suffering. If lure birds are being used, make sure they have sufficient food and water, and that they are removed once the target birds have entered the trap.

Once birds have been caught, time and safety are of the essence. For this reason, it is imperative that experienced handlers are put in charge of euthanizing, collection or transport to a release location. Many species carry diseases which could be passed on through human contact, and trained personnel may be the only people who know how to deal with inherent risks of contagion.