Hummingbirds spend much of every day in flight, searching for nectar or bugs to power their sky-high metabolism. While this can make for delightful viewing from a birdwatcher’s perspective, these birds’ appetites can sometimes land them in precarious positions.
Hummingbirds are attracted to the colors red, orange, and yellow. If the birds see something with a bright color that might be a nectar-producing flower in your garage – a red hand tool or an orange basketball, for example – they could accidentally end up trapped inside.
When hummingbirds feel danger, their first move is often up, providing an easy escape route from most predators.
However, that won’t work in a covered garage (or house), and a hummingbird might not be able to find the exit, even though it may be obvious from a human’s perspective. Even a wide-open garage door may not be enough to coax a hummingbird out to safety.
Step 1: Open Garage Doors and Windows and Clear the Area
If you haven’t already, open your garage doors and windows, so the bird has as many options to exit the building as possible. For trapped wildlife, or any wild animal in general, the less human contact, the better.
The perfect scenario is that the bird flies out without having to touch it. However, that won’t necessarily work with hummingbirds in every case, and they need to feed frequently. Getting trapped can become dangerous for the bird in short order.
First, make sure any kids, pets, or anything else that could startle the bird is out of the area. Temporarily remove anything that the bird could be attracted to as well. If you think a particular item drew the bird into the garage, you don’t want that item to continue to confuse it.
Step 2: Use a Feeder or Red Object to Draw the Bird to the Exit
Just as the bird probably entered the garage in pursuit of a colorful object it thought may be food, you can attempt to lure the bird to an exit with the hummingbird feeder trick.
If you don’t have a feeder, any other red object is the next best thing. Hang the feeder or object near a large exit like the garage door, clear the area and wait a few minutes to see if the curious hummingbird makes its escape.
You may also want to turn off bright lights in the garage so that all natural light entering the building comes from the outside world.
Step 3: Gently Help the Bird Out of the Garage
If the bird doesn’t find its way to freedom on its own, it may need a bit of human assistance. To keep yourself safe, try to prod the bird in the right direction using a broom or something similar. Try not to physically touch the confused hummingbird.
See if the bird will follow a cue and move in the desired direction. If not, you may also be able to get the bird to perch on the broom and bring it outside. Do not force the bird onto the broom, as hummingbirds have very weak legs that could break if you apply too much force.
If you can get the bird to grab the broom on its own, slowly move the bird toward the exit. Once you’re outside, the bird will hopefully take off.
You can also leave the broom near a tree, in the garden, or on the grass and give the bird time to fly off. If you do this, be sure to close the garage door, so you don’t end up in exactly the same situation you just got yourself out of.
If the bird does not latch onto the broom or other object, you may have to help move the bird with your hands.
Hopefully, it doesn’t come to this, but if you have to use this step, take a few quick precautions to help keep both you and the bird safe. Wear gloves and immediately wash your hands after handling any bird. If you believe the bird is sick, do not touch it, period.
However, if you believe the bird is healthy and has inadvertently wandered into your garage, proceed with extreme caution. Gently cup the bird with two hands and carry the hummingbird to freedom. Make sure you have a secure hold on the bird but don’t grab it too tight, as hummingbirds are extremely small and delicate.
You don’t want to hurt the bird, but you also don’t want to be in a situation where it gets scared and springs loose inside again.
Once you’re outside, have someone else close the garage door and open your hands. Ideally, the bird will fly off immediately, but it may take a bit to figure out its surroundings and fly away.
Give the bird some time in your open palm, or place it in a garden or on the grass so it can take a moment to gather itself and return to its normal life.
Step 4: Contact a Wildlife Professional
If you’re unable to help the bird, wildlife professionals or rehabilitators may be able to assist you. A state wildlife agency may not come out to rescue a single hummingbird, but a wildlife rehab agency could help provide a happy outcome for you and your feathered acquaintance.
Search online for a rehabilitator in your area. Even if one cannot come out and physically assist you, they might be able to walk through the problem on the phone and provide some helpful tips specific to your situation.
What Should You Do with a Dead Bird in Your Garage or Yard?
While we all hope that the birds in our yards live long, healthy lives, every homeowner will find a dead hummingbird in their yard at some point. If you find one in your garage or yard, do not pick up the bird with your bare hands.
One way to avoid contact with the bird is to pick it up with a shovel and place it in a plastic bag. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also suggests using an inverted bag or disposable glove to put the bird in a plastic bag before depositing it in a trash can that’s secure from children, pets, or other wild animals.
You may be asked to report the dead bird as well. Some states ask that dead birds be reported to help track diseases like West Nile Virus or Avian Influenza, and each state has a different protocol for this process.
Check with your state’s health or natural resource department to check their reporting suggestions before proceeding. A professional may need to come and collect the bird for testing.