Birds can easily fly into a garage with its door wide open, but they don't always find their way out. Most wild birds are protected by federal and state laws, and so they must be removed humanely, without injuring the birds or putting yourself in danger. Birds naturally fly upward to escape the garage rather than returning to the open door, but you can lure or catch them without injury and release them outside. Remain calm and speak softly so you don't frighten the birds, which will only cause them to fly around the garage more frantically.
Why Birds Enter a Garage
Birds may seek a place to nest or be attracted to food inside your garage. Sparrows, bluebirds, other songbirds and hummingbirds may perceive light from a window or crack on the opposite side they enter the garage and try to fly through the building. They also may view the garage as a safe nesting site. Woodpeckers may drum on the outside of the garage and also seek a nesting spot.
Lure Them Out
Hummingbirds are attracted to bright colors and light. You may be able to lure these tiny birds to the garage's open door by placing bright-red objects in a succession they can follow to the door. For example, with the garage door open, first place a bright-red item on the roof of a vehicle inside the garage; then put a second red object a few feet off the ground, and, finally, another red object in full sunlight just outside the door. Darken the garage as much as possible so the only light is from the open door to which you wish to lure the birds.
Leave Them Alone Awhile
With the exception of owls and other nocturnal species, birds are active during daylight hours. Turn off the garage's lights, close all of its doors, cover its windows if possible and leave the garage for about one-half hour. The birds in the garage may rest on the floor or find a different place to roost or sleep. When you return to the garage, open its door slowly and quietly. If you see the birds, you may be able to trap them gently with a basket or blanket and then move them outdoors.
Prevent Them from Entering
It is easier to keep birds from entering a garage in the first place than to remove them once they are inside. Keep the garage's doors closed, especially the large door through which you drive a vehicle. Do not store bird food, garbage or other food attractants in accessible containers. Promptly remove all birds that find their way into the garage before they start to build nests inside it.
If you find a bird nest with eggs in it, you can wait a few weeks until the eggs have hatched and the chicks have fledged. Once the birds have left, you can remove the nest. If you must move the nest sooner, then select a new location for it that is not far away, and disturb the nest as little as possible while relocating it.
Woodpeckers drum on wood siding and eaves to attract mates, bore for insects, establish nesting sites and defend their territories. Deter woodpeckers at the first sign of them by covering all holes they have bored. Hang hawk mobiles or fasten small mirrors to the garage's exterior to frighten the woodpeckers away from the building. Provide alternate nesting boxes that resemble a woodpecker's natural nesting cavity.
- Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy: Have a Bird Stuck in Your Garage? I Did
- Humane Society of the United States: What to Do About House Sparrows
- Colorado Parks and Wildlife: Woodpeckers
- Colorado State University Extension: Preventing Woodpecker Damage
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Migratory Bird Program -- Homes for Birds
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds: Nests
Lisa Jensen grows organic food and lives in an adobe house that she built. She teaches aikido, is an experienced back-country skier and backpacker and is active in her community. A graduate of the University of Calgary, Jensen writes about gardening, home projects, social sciences and sports and recreation.