Should I Bury A Dead Bird? Things To Consider

Finding a dead bird can be an upsetting experience. You feel compelled to give the creature a proper resting place. But is burying it the right thing to do?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Burying a single dead bird in your yard is usually fine. But leave any protected species untouched and check local laws on disposing wild animal carcasses.

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to think through when you come across a deceased bird. We’ll cover sensible burial options, how to identify protected birds, and signs of disease to watch out for.

Consider Burial for a Lone Backyard Bird

When you come across a deceased bird in your backyard, it is natural to wonder what the best course of action is. One option to consider is burying the bird. This provides a respectful and environmentally friendly way to handle the remains.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind before proceeding with burial.

Dig a Shallow Grave

If you decide to bury the bird, it is important to dig a shallow grave. This helps to prevent other animals from being attracted to the area. The depth of the grave should be sufficient enough to fully cover the bird, but not so deep that it becomes difficult to dig.

A good rule of thumb is to dig a hole that is at least one foot deep.

Option for Marking the Spot

Consider marking the burial spot with a small marker or stone. This can help you remember the location in case you need to revisit it in the future. Additionally, marking the spot can serve as a way to honor the bird’s memory and create a designated area for future remembrance.

Contact Wildlife Agency if Excessive Deaths

If you notice a concerning number of bird deaths in your backyard, it may be wise to contact your local wildlife agency. They can assess the situation and determine if there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

Sometimes, excessive bird deaths can be a sign of disease or environmental problems that require professional intervention.

It is important to note that burying a lone backyard bird is a personal choice and not a requirement. If you prefer not to bury the bird, you can also consider other options such as contacting a local veterinarian or wildlife rehabilitation center for guidance on how to handle the remains.

For more information on handling deceased birds, you can visit the Audubon Society’s website. They provide further guidance on proper bird handling and disposal methods.

Don’t Bury Protected Species

When it comes to burying a dead bird, it’s important to consider whether it belongs to a protected species. Protected species are animals that are legally safeguarded and their burial may be subject to specific regulations.

Before burying a dead bird, it’s essential to ensure that it is not a protected species to avoid any legal consequences.

Look For Identification Markers

Identifying a bird species can sometimes be challenging, especially if you’re not familiar with different types of birds. However, there are certain identification markers that you can look for to determine whether the bird belongs to a protected species.

These markers include unique coloring patterns, distinct beak shapes, and specific feather arrangements. If you’re unsure about the bird’s identification, it’s best to consult with local wildlife resources.

Consult Local Wildlife Resources

Local wildlife resources, such as wildlife conservation organizations or government agencies, can provide valuable information about protected bird species in your area. They can help you identify the bird and advise you on the appropriate steps to take if it is a protected species.

These resources often have websites or helplines that you can contact for assistance. Make sure to reach out to them for guidance before deciding whether to bury the bird.

Call Rehab Center if Unsure

If you’re still unsure about the bird’s species or legal status, contacting a local wildlife rehabilitation center is a wise choice. Rehab centers have experts who can assess the situation and provide guidance based on their knowledge and experience.

They may ask you to bring the bird to their facility for further examination or provide you with specific instructions on how to handle the situation. Remember, it’s always better to seek professional advice if you’re uncertain about the appropriate course of action.

Safely Dispose of Dead Birds

When encountering a dead bird, it is important to handle the situation properly to ensure safety and minimize any potential health risks. Here are some important considerations for safely disposing of dead birds:

Wear Gloves When Handling

It is recommended to wear gloves when handling a dead bird. This helps to protect against any potential diseases or parasites that may be present. By wearing gloves, you can reduce the risk of coming into direct contact with the bird and minimize the spread of any potential pathogens.

Seal in Plastic Bag

After putting on gloves, carefully pick up the dead bird using a shovel or other suitable tool. Place the bird in a plastic bag and seal it tightly. This will prevent any potential odors or contamination from spreading. It is important to use a sturdy bag that will not tear or leak.

Read Up on Local Waste Laws

Before disposing of the dead bird, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the local waste laws and regulations in your area. Some regions may have specific guidelines for the disposal of dead animals.

Check with your local municipality or health department to ensure you are following the proper procedures.

Properly disposing of dead birds is not only important for health and safety reasons, but it also helps to prevent the spread of diseases among other wildlife and pets. By taking these precautions, you can ensure that you are handling the situation responsibly and minimizing any potential risks.

For more information on how to safely handle and dispose of dead birds, you can visit reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or your local health department’s website.

Watch for Signs of Disease

When you come across a dead bird, it is important to watch for any signs of disease. Birds can carry various diseases, some of which can be transmitted to humans. Look for any visible symptoms such as discolored or swollen eyes, unusual discharge from the beak or eyes, or difficulty breathing.

These could be indications that the bird was sick before it died. It is best to avoid touching the bird directly with your bare hands to minimize the risk of disease transmission.

Avoid Touching Eyes, Nose

When dealing with a dead bird, it is crucial to avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands afterwards. If you accidentally come into contact with the bird, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to minimize the risk of potential disease transmission.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your health.

Disinfect Area Thoroughly

After encountering a dead bird, it is important to clean and disinfect the area where it was found. Use gloves and a shovel or tongs to carefully place the bird in a bag or container for disposal. Then, clean the surrounding area with a disinfectant to eliminate any potential pathogens.

This will help prevent the spread of disease to other animals or humans who may come across the area later.

Call Wildlife Agency if Concerned

If you are unsure about how to handle a dead bird or if you suspect it may have died from a contagious disease, it is advisable to contact your local wildlife agency. They can provide guidance on proper handling procedures and may even offer assistance in disposing of the bird.

Remember, wildlife professionals are trained to handle these situations and can help ensure the safety of both humans and animals.

When to Leave Dead Birds Be

When it comes to encountering a dead bird, many people wonder what they should do. While the instinct to bury or dispose of the bird may be strong, there are actually several reasons why it may be best to leave the bird where it is.

Understanding the natural cycle of the ecosystem, the role of scavengers, and the exceptions for health risks can help you make an informed decision.

Natural Cycle of the Ecosystem

One reason to consider leaving a dead bird be is the natural cycle of the ecosystem. When a bird dies, it becomes part of the natural decomposition process. By leaving the bird where it is, you allow other organisms to benefit from its presence.

Insects and other scavenging animals play an important role in breaking down the carcass, returning nutrients to the soil, and supporting the overall health of the ecosystem.

Scavengers Rely on Carcasses

Scavengers, such as vultures, play a vital role in the ecosystem by consuming dead animals. These birds have adapted to eating carrion and rely on carcasses as a food source. By removing a dead bird, you may be depriving these scavengers of a meal.

This can disrupt the natural balance of the ecosystem and have unintended consequences for other species that depend on scavengers for food.

Exceptions for Health Risks

While leaving a dead bird be is generally recommended, there are exceptions when it comes to health risks. If you come across a dead bird in an area where there is a known outbreak of a contagious bird disease, it is important to take precautions.

In these cases, it may be necessary to report the finding to the appropriate authorities and follow their guidance for safe disposal. This helps prevent the spread of diseases that can be harmful to both humans and other birds.

Remember, if you are unsure about what to do with a dead bird, it is always best to err on the side of caution and seek guidance from local wildlife or health authorities.


Finding a deceased bird can be emotional and raise questions on proper handling. With care and research, you can give the creature a respectful farewell. Consider if burial is appropriate or if reporting it to local wildlife authorities is better.

Be mindful of health risks, and know when leaving the bird untouched preserves nature’s cycle.

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