Procedures for Dead Birds
Any time you find a dead bird, it may be important for science. Public health and wildlife authorities want to know about bird deaths that may be caused by disease. And any bird may be a valuable museum specimen.
If you'd like to donate a bird you've found to a museum, Eastside Audubon can help. The chapter holds salvage and education permits with both the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) to record and dispose of dead birds as required under the Migratory Bird Act. Our permits allow us to accept dead birds from the public: We take such birds to the Burke Museum. (Our permits also allow us to keep a collection of birds for educational purposes.)
After reading this article, if you have questions or would prefer to speak directly with someone in our office, please call 425-576-8805.
Notifying the authorities
If the bird seems to have died without visible cause — not likely killed by a window strike, car strike, or cat — please report your finding.
If the bird is a crow, jay, raven or magpie, call your county public health department, the agency that tracks West Nile virus. For King County, call 206-296-4600.
To report any other species, call the WDFW at 1-800-606-8768.
If the bird is banded, please visit www.reportband.gov and follow the instructions to record your discovery.
Preparing a bird for the Burke Museum
Regardless of the cause of death, the bird may be useful to the Burke. To prepare the bird you've found, please follow these guidelines:
- Make a data tag with your name, phone number, date, location where the bird was found, and the cause of death (if known).
- If you plan to turn in the bird to EAS or an EAS member, add the EAS permit number: MB683034-0.
- Attach the tag to one of the bird's legs.
- Stuff a small piece of an absorbent material such as Kleenex down the throat of the bird.
- If the bird is large, fold in the head and legs to form a compact package. Wrap with a piece of newspaper.
- Put the bird into a plastic bag, squeeze out the extra air, and seal the bag.
- Store the specimen in a freezer. Birds keep for months if frozen.
- Wash your hands with soap and water after handling a dead bird.
You can get the bird to the Burke Museum using any of the following methods:
- Deliver it directly to the Burke Museum. Call the museum staff at 206-543-1668.
- Bring it to the Eastside Audubon office (call for hours: 425-576-8805).
- Take it to the monthly Washington Ornithological Society (WOS) meeting at the Center for Urban Horticulture (first Monday of each month October through June).
- Take it to Hugh Jennings 425-746-6351 or another EAS member who is going to the WOS meeting.