What do I do if I find a dead bird?
Do I need to report single dead birds?
If you find one or more gulls, waders, ducks, geese and swans (webbed feet, long legs or long neck) the DARD Helpline should be contacted at 0300 200 7840. 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.
What should I do if I find a number of birds?
If you find 5 or more dead birds of any species, other than swans, gulls, waders, ducks and geese, in the same place, the DARD Helpline should be contacted at 0300 200 7840
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.
Shouldn’t members of the public just take the birds along to the nearest lab?
People should telephone us first (as set out above) giving as much relevant information as possible to help us to decide if further action is necessary.
If I leave my number, will someone give me a ring with the results?
We’re sorry, but this won’t be possible in many cases for phoned reports of wild bird deaths.
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.
Is there anything I should do if I find many dead birds and can’t get hold of anyone?
You should be able to reach someone on the number given during working hours and also on a weekend or Bank Holiday. In the unlikely event of not being able to get through, please capture as much detail as you can about the incident, including precise detail of location, and leave a message and phone number on the DARD Helpline answer phone and someone will contact you on the next working day or alternatively you can telephone through on the next working day.
Should I report dead birds that look like they’ve been hit by a car or savaged by a wild animal?
Not if it’s clear that that’s the cause of death, or if the carcase is starting to putrefy.
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.
What should I do if my children or I have touched a dead bird?
See the question above
What am I at risk from?
Although the risk of AI may be low, birds carry other respiratory infections. Birds can also carry infections that can cause gastrointestinal infections such as Salmonella and Campylobacter.
Do I have to worry about my pets eating or bringing dead birds in?
It is always sensible to prevent pets eating wild bird or other animal carcases given that there is the possibility that the death could have been caused by poisoning or from a severe bacterial infection or the carcase could have been deliberately poisoned for use as bait.
My dog found some dead birds. Does this mean it will get ‘flu’?
There is no evidence that any type of avian influenza (AI) has passed from avian species to dogs. So even in the unlikely event that the reported dead birds had died from AI, the risk to your dog would be extremely low. Cases of dog ‘flu’ have been recorded in the USA, but in this case the virus is believed to have originated from horse ‘flu’.
DARD Helpline on 0300 200 7840