How To Catch A Wild Bird? – 3 Ways That Work

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Ever tried catching a bird with your bare hands?

The swift flight of a bird, the altitudes they can achieve, plus the magnificent agility and squishiness, make catching one is almost impossible. Unless, of course, you’re a cat or another type of bird.

But we know you aren’t.

That’s why we want to show you a few alternatives—effective, practical, and easy ways to catch a wild bird that any human can try.

These methods are not 100% effective, but they are way better than trying to catch a bird with your hands.

More importantly, they catch the bird harmlessly. You won’t cause any damage to the animal.

So, are you ready to learn what we have to tell you about catching wild birds in your garden or in the wild? Then keep reading!

Is it Legal to Catch A Wild Bird?

Is it Legal to Catch A Wild Bird?

Before you even start strategizing and preparing the bird-catching trap, it’s vital to know whether it is legal in your area.

Believe it or not, several states all across the US and the world don’t allow the hunt of birds. There are exceptions, of course. But in most cases, you may want to avoid doing it.

This happens because of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). It prevents people from trapping most types of birds. Some species that are not part of the treaty include starlings, pigeons, and sparrows. Because they live in most urban and suburban areas, they thrive. However, they’re still not legal to trap.

3 Ways to Catch a Wild Bird That Work

With a better idea of whether you can catch a wild bird in your home or forest, let’s teach you how to do it.

Below, you’ll find 3 ways that work. These methods are traps. They will obviously catch the bird without causing any type of damage.

Each trap is easy to do and requires similar materials to the others. It all comes down to what type of trap seems the most effective for you.

So, are you ready to learn how to catch a wild bird? Then check these methods up!

1. The Cardboard Pitfall

Probably the most harmless of all methods. And while not the most effective, it still works wonders.

The best of all? You can create pretty much any type of cardboard pitfall you want. And it is always cheap and easy to do.

Here’s a set of steps to follow:

  • Start by finding a cardboard box. It needs to be at least 20 inches high. We recommend it to be no less than 10 inches wide and long.
  • The box needs to be pristine. Meaning, no side should be broken or opened, so once you trap the bird, it can’t escape.
  • With the box ready, proceed to mark the top of the box. Resting the cardboard on the floor, mark a section of about 5 inches wide by 7-10 inches long with a marker or pencil. This section should be in the middle of the box (far from the borders).
  • Once you mark the section, cut only three sides (forming a U). The focus is to create a flap door. This door will work as a blockage to prevent the bird from getting out once trapped.
  • Now look for a piece of wood. Preferably something of the same length as the flap door but narrower. Meaning, it should be long enough to prevent the flap door from closing entirely and narrow so it can fall inside the box.
  • Open a hole in the flap door, preferably at the top. Then do the same with the piece of wood. Measure a piece of nylon thread or similar material.
  • It should be long enough to allow the wood to fall entirely into the bottom of the box. But it should also be short enough to prevent the door from getting inside the box when the piece of wood falls. In short, it should allow the wood to pull the door down and close the box.
  • After attaching the wood and the flap door, it’s time to place the piece of wood over the pitfall. The board should rest on the flap door (this door should be less than 90 degrees). This board should be softly put. Meaning, even the slightest movement should make it fall in the pit.
  • Once done, place some bird food (seeds, grains, or crumbs) on top of the board. Be careful not to make the wood piece fall.
  • Locate the cardboard in a populated area (preferably high like a tree branch). Now it’s just time to wait. Once the bird steps into the piece of wood to eat something, the board should fall. Then, the cardboard door will close, and the bird will be trapped inside.

This should take you no more than 30 minutes to make. It’s vital to open some holes across the board (tiny holes), so the bird can breathe inside. Preferably, open anywhere from 5 to 6 holes all around the box. You won’t like to trap the bird and leave it without oxygen.

2. The Carton Box & Stick Trap

The Carton Box & Stick Trap

The second method is the most popular of all. As such, it is a no-brainer. Even a kid can use this method successfully.

But as easy as it is, it can also time-consuming. But before we explain why, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

Here are the steps to follow to make a carton box trap:

  • First, find a cardboard box. Then find a stick with a Y shape, preferably between 6 and 10 inches. It should be larger than the bird you’re trying to catch. You’ll also need a piece of string (at least 10 feet long) and some bird food (seeds, grains, carbs, etc.)
  • With the in mind, there’s no time to waste. Start by checking that the cardboard has no holes. Then, check that the lid or front part should is open. Try to get rid of lids or flaps if it has any. 
  • Now find a populated location where to place the box on the ground. Once there, place the cardboard box with the bottom up. This bottom should be completely closed.
  • Grab the stick and try to place the box side within the V part. The bottom of the stick should be fixed firmly into the ground. But not too firm. Just enough for the stick to grab the box without falling.
  • Proceed to attach the string to the stick. It should be attached so that if you pull it, the stick lets the box fall flat on the floor.
  • Once you attach the string and place the stick with the box, pour some of the bird food under. Then go and find a place to hide, preferably over 5 feet away, so the birds can get close to the box.
  • Now it’s time to wait for the bird to step under and eat the food. When that happens, you’ll have to pull the string for the stick to let the box fall. If successful, the bird will be trapped underneath.

As you can see, it is not rocket science. But even then, you’ll have to be extra careful not to scare the birds before it’s time to trap them up.

Read More: How to Get Rid of Tree Frogs and Toads?

3. The Bird Cage Method

The Bird Cage Method

This is probably the easiest trap you can try. However, it is the most expensive. And for a reason: it is the most effective on the list.

Here’s how to make it happen:

  • Look for a birdcage, preferably made of steel wire. Also, try to gather some bird food and a thin nylon string.
  • With that figured out, find a place where you can place the trap, preferably close to trees and other bird-populated areas.
  • Once in the place, set up the trap. The door should always default to getting closed by itself. Preferably, it will get locked automatically as soon as it closes.
  • Then, you need to attach the wire to the door of the cage. Grab one end of the strip and attach it to the top part of the cage door. The other side should be attached to a section of the cage gently.
  • First, however, pour the bird food inside. Then knot the string to the door and make an easy-to-disassemble knot in the center of the cage. It should be in a place where a bird getting inside to eat the food has to touch it. When that happens, the string loosens up, and the door falls close.
  • Once you do that, then it’s just time to wait. If you see that a bird gets inside, eats the food, and the trap doesn’t go off, it probably means you need to loosen the string.

Regardless, once the string is set up correctly, even the smallest bird can make it go off. This will trap it automatically and offer no chance to escape. The best of all? It works with pretty much any type of cage as long as the door slams down automatically.

Also Read: 6 Ways To Get Rid of Snakes in Your Garden

Is There a Way to Catch Birds Legally?

Is There a Way to Catch Birds Legally?

Luckily, there is. But you’ll have to get a permit for that. And because only governmental institutions issue these permits, you’ll have to go through complicated processes.

If you’re not from the US, you may not need to get a permit. As long as the birds don’t belong to an endangered species, you may have nothing going against you.

This is primarily true for continents like Asia, Africa, and South America. For example, catching birds to eat or keep them as pets is entirely normal in rural environments. And most people do it without a single consequence.

FAQ’s For Catch a Wild Bird

Can You Catch a Wild Bird and Keep it?

No. In the United States and many other countries, it is not legal to catch and keep a wild bird, regardless of its species. You could be charged with a felony for doing so.

That’s why it is often encouraged to get rid of the idea of taming wild birds in the first place.

What are the Consequences of Catching Wild Birds Illegally?

In case you’re in a state where catching birds is an illegal activity, you may face prison time of over 1 year. Because the activity is regarded as a felony, it’s worth trying to do it in the first place.

Why would you add a stripe to your criminal record for this? No sense, right?

Which act makes catching wild birds illegal?

Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) makes catching wild birds illegal.

Which birds do not come under the MBTA act?

Starlings, pigeons, and sparrows are not a part of the MBTA act against catching wild birds.

What kinds of traps can we use to catch wild birds?

You can trap using cardboard, a carton box, and a stick. You can also use bird cages for the purpose.


So, are these bird-trapping methods enough for you? We hope so!

The good thing is that none of them are too hard to become a waste of time, nor are they too harmful to cause damage to birds.

As long as you follow our instructions and use safety equipment and instruments, you’ll catch that wild bird with no problem.

Are you ready to try this up then? Don’t waste any time, and get on to work right now! Those birds are waiting for you!

You May Also Read: How to Get Rid of Ants in Garden without Killing Plants

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