How to Tell If A Bird Is Dead – 3 Useful Tips to Follow

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Oh No! Is the Bird Dead? Or Is It Just Stunned?…

Every now and then, as you take a leisurely stroll along your neighborhood, you may encounter a bird lying on the pavement. And wondered “how to tell if a bird is dead”

You may have also had an encounter where you hear a thud on your window and to your surprise, see a bird lying on the window sill.

I’ve got the answers. Just read on.

READ MORE: Are Bird Cages Cruel?

How to Tell if a Bird is Dead?

a dead bird lying around

Birds are fragile, beautiful creatures. We love them. It’s hard not to feel sad when one of our feathered friends passes away.

The signs of death [1], however, can be hard to read. If you find a bird out of its nest or lying on the ground, here are some tips on how to tell if it’s dead.

#1 Observation Is the First Step

“Seems lifeless” doesn’t necessarily mean that the bird is dead. Before drawing conclusions, the first thing to do is to observe the bird for a few minutes as it may only have been stunned.

Yes, birds can blackout. If the bird happens to have hit your window, this would not even be surprising.
Before making any attempt to touch the bird, try going a bit near it first to check for any reaction.

#2 Is it Breathing?

checking a dead bird

Breathing is, as in most other creatures, a sign of life.

The same goes for birds. You should immediately check for signs of life like breathing [2] and, if possible, the presence of a heartbeat.

The heart of a bird [3] is located centrally and much lower in the chest cavity. You may have to try and take listen to both sides in order to locate a heartbeat.

If the bird is merely stunned, or if it has temporarily blacked out, it would be best to leave it alone to give it time to recover on its own.

Always allow for a few minutes to pass when observing birds who may have been badly injured. It will take at least ten minutes in order for you to observe a bird in order to see if it is dead or not.

READ MORE: Do Birds Sleep at Night?

#3 Stunned

Again, a stunned bird will still show signs of breathing. When awakened or recovered, it may also look pretty weak. There may even be instances when its feathers will look all fluffed up and messy.

Helping An Injured Bird

carrying an unconscious bird

Just in case the bird is not dead but instead badly injured, you may need to help it out in order to help it recover. Here are some ways you can help an injured bird.

Perform CPR

In extreme cases, you may want to try performing CPR.

This video can give you an idea of how to perform CPR on a very weak bird. You can also read our guide on how to save a bird from dying.

Be sure to check the bird for any sign of injuries such as wounds or a broken wing. Be sure to pick the bird up very gently in order to prevent further injury.

If possible, wear gloves to prevent any spread of infection from the bird to you and vise-versa.

READ MORE: How Often Should You Clean a Bird Cage?

Prepare a Temporary Shelter

a bird box

The path to recovery for any injured bird means some form of shelter while it is in recovery.

You may use any kind of box as a temporary shelter for as long as it has enough space so that the birds can spread their wings while inside the box.

Line the box with any old cloth or with newspapers so that it gets warm and comfortable for your injured patient.
You can provide water for the injured bird to drink.

Aside from those few steps, it is best to leave the bird alone in a quiet spot until the time it fully recovers from injury.
Helping an injured animal is indeed an act of kindness, but it needs to be done with utmost care.

Key Takeaway

With birds, it might be a bit more difficult, given their size and difference in physical structure.
Knowing basic signs in order to see whether or not they can still be saved makes a huge difference.

That slight difference can, after all, save a precious life.

How to Tell If A Bird Is Dead

Do you now know how to tell if it’s a dead bird or not? Please share with us what you think down below!


  • 1. How Do I Recognize a Sick Bird? [Internet]. The Spruce. [cited 2022 Feb 20]. Available from:
  • 2. Birds Kept as Pets | Healthy Pets, Healthy People | CDC [Internet]. 2019. Available from:
  • 3. Anatomy of the Avian Heart – Pet Birds by Lafeber Co. [Internet]. Lafeber® Pet Birds. 2013. Available from:

Deanna is a passionate animal lover. She is the mom of several guinea pigs and sugar gliders.
When she’s not writing, Deanna loves listening to country music, or watching Dancing With The Stars.
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