Finding a dead bird

If you find one or more gulls, waders, ducks, geese and swans (webbed feet, long legs or long neck) or five or more of any species the DARD Helpline should be contacted at 0300 200 7840.

If you are phoning from Great Britain, please phone the Defra Helpline 08459 33 55 77.

You will be asked for details of the finding and the location. If you find any other single dead birds, including garden birds, then you do not need to call the DARD Helpline.
If you find more than 1 but less than 5 dead birds and they are not gulls, waders, ducks, geese or swans then you do not need to call DARD. You should
  • Leave it alone, or
  • Follow the guidelines for disposal below.

Where could I dispose of dead birds and how?

If you have to move a dead bird
  • Avoid touching the bird with your bare hands
  • If possible, wear disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling (if disposable gloves are not available see 7)
  • Place the dead bird in a suitable plastic bag, preferably leak proof.
  • Tie the bag and place it in a second plastic bag
  • Remove gloves by turning them inside out and then place them in the second plastic bag. Tie the bag and dispose of in the normal household refuse bin.
  • Hands should then be washed thoroughly with soap and water
  • If disposable gloves are not available, a plastic bag can be used as a make-shift glove. When the dead bird has been picked up, the bag can be turned back on itself and tied. It should then be placed in a second plastic bag, tied and disposed of in the normal household waste
  • Alternatively, the dead bird can be buried, but not in a plastic bag
  • Any clothing that has been in contact with the dead bird should be washed using ordinary washing detergent at the temperature normally used for washing the clothing.
  • Any contaminated indoor surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned with normal household cleaner.

Will you collect a sick swan/duck or goose?

No, the Department does not have the facility to look after sick birds. Please contact the USPCA or your own vet.

Is it necessary to report deaths in birds kept in outside aviaries or gamebirds?

You should report cases where a number of birds have died within a short time and there could have been contact with migratory waterbirds. You are strongly advised to do this through your private veterinary surgeon. If you or your Veterinary Surgeon suspect AI (or any other notifiable disease) you should contact your local Divisional Veterinary Office who will carry out an investigation.

What should I do if I find dead wild birds near or among my poultry?

Please report these without delay so that we can discuss with you and provide advice on the next steps.

If I ring up, can I be guaranteed that the birds I report will be collected?

Not necessarily. An experienced vet will assess details of the event. A decision will then be taken whether to investigate further, and arrangements will be made to collect the bird carcases. If not, it will be for the owner/manager of the land where the die-off is reported to ensure disposal of the carcases.

Am I at risk from touching dead birds?

Wild birds can carry several diseases that are infectious to people. If dead birds are handled, you should always take appropriate hygiene precautions such as wearing disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling carcases. If you don’t have gloves use a plastic bag. You should wash hands, nails and forearms thoroughly with soap and water after handling the carcase.

Contact details

DARD Helpline on 0300 200 7840
USPCA Helpline 028 3025 1000