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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 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:

  1. Make a data tag with your name, phone number, date, location where the bird was found, and the cause of death (if known).
  2. If you plan to turn in the bird to EAS or an EAS member, add the EAS permit number: MB683034-0.
  3. Attach the tag to one of the bird's legs.
  4. Stuff a small piece of an absorbent material such as Kleenex down the throat of the bird.
  5. If the bird is large, fold in the head and legs to form a compact package. Wrap with a piece of newspaper.
  6. Put the bird into a plastic bag, squeeze out the extra air, and seal the bag.
  7. Store the specimen in a freezer. Birds keep for months if frozen.
  8. 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.
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The mission of Eastside Audubon is to protect, preserve and enhance natural ecosystems and our communities for the benefit of birds, other wildlife and people.