How Long for a Bird Stuck in Chimney to Die?

How Long For A Bird Stuck In Chimney To Die

Birds frequently find themselves trapped in chimneys, whether the fireplace is functional or sealed off. It’s not a random event when a bird enters a chimney; they’re usually seeking a warm refuge, a secure nesting place away from potential predators, or a desperate search for sustenance. They often enter the chimney with ease but end up trapped, unable to fly back out.

Depending on the bird species, a trapped bird can succumb to starvation or dehydration between two days and three weeks. Smaller birds, with their tinier stomachs, typically perish within 2-5 days, while pigeons can survive up to three weeks without water. Factors like the bird’s injury status, species, and the amount of energy it expends trying to escape significantly affect this time frame.

Even if you haven’t noticed a bird trapped in your chimney, you’ll likely become aware if it dies. This guide will help you understand what to do if there’s a bird in your chimney, be it alive or dead, and provide steps to prevent birds from entering your chimney in the future.

Why Do Birds Fly And Settle Into A Chimney?

Why Do Birds Fly And Settle Into A Chimney

As the chill of winter sets in, birds often seek out cozy, enclosed spaces to evade the cold, especially during nighttime. A frequently used chimney can present an ideal refuge for them.

Birds often choose chimneys as nesting sites to lay their eggs, attracted by the warm temperatures conducive for egg incubation and the hidden nature of the location which safeguards the eggs from predators.

In addition, chimneys serve as a sanctuary for birds hiding from predators. They also act as food sources, hosting a variety of insects and creepy crawlies that birds enjoy feasting on.

However, not all birds enter a chimney intentionally. Some may inadvertently fall in while resting on the ledge. If a bird drops a few inches from the chimney top, it can still spread its wings and fly back up. However, if it doesn’t land on a ledge at the bottom of the chimney, it could plummet to the ground and die instantly.

What Problems Can Arise From A Bird Flying Into A Chimney?

What Problems Can Arise From A Bird Flying Into A Chimney

Having a bird enter your chimney could lead to it getting trapped and potentially dying inside, resulting in unpleasant odors and a possible fly infestation in the room.

Moreover, complications can stem from birds nesting in your chimney. The nest could block the chimney if it falls or becomes too large. Additionally, there’s a risk of the nest catching fire, leading to a severe and unmanageable situation in your home.

Birds can harbor harmful pests and bacteria, and if they get trapped and die in your chimney, there’s an increased chance of maggots spreading throughout the chimney and potentially into your house.

These problems can occur even if the fireplace is not currently in use.

The presence of a nest can also hinder proper ventilation leading to condensation build-up, which can cause dampness. This dampness can in turn lead to mold growth, posing significant health risks.

Ways To Tell That There Is A Bird Stuck In The Chimney

Ways To Tell That There Is A Bird Stuck In The Chimney

If you possess an open fireplace, you might notice signs of a nest or feathers fallen into the hearth’s coals or wood. This is a significant indicator that a bird may be trapped in your chimney.

However, if your fireplace is sealed off within the chimney or blocked by a wall, you won’t see any fallen soot or debris in the hearth. In this case, you’ll need to look for other signs.

One clear sign of a bird in your chimney is the sound of distressing screeches or chirping emanating from inside, audible either from outside your house or from the room with the fireplace.

You might also hear the sound of scratching or flapping as the bird attempts to escape the chimney.

If you observe a potent smell or a sudden increase in flies around your fireplace or above the chimney, it could indicate that the bird has unfortunately perished inside the chimney.

How Long Can A Bird That’s Stuck In A Chimney Survive For?

How Long Can A Bird That’s Stuck In A Chimney Survive For

A bird can potentially survive inside a chimney for approximately a week, given the conditions within the chimney are favorable and no fire is lit during that period.

However, if the bird encounters harsh conditions or has been deprived of food or water prior to getting trapped in the chimney, its survival time could be drastically reduced to less than two days.

Birds require food and water to survive, but chimneys typically lack these essentials. Therefore, without assistance, their survival is unlikely.

Unless injured, birds will likely attempt to escape and fly out of the chimney. However, they often find it challenging to spread their wings in the confined space and may quickly become too exhausted and weak to continue their efforts.

What To Do If A Bird Has Got Stuck In Your Chimney

What To Do If A Bird Has Got Stuck In Your Chimney

If you suspect a bird is trapped in your chimney, the best course of action is to seek assistance from a professional, such as a certified chimney sweep or an animal rescue expert.

If professional help can’t reach you immediately and you’re considering a self-rescue attempt, be prepared for a potentially messy task. You’ll need to clear any debris from the chimney to access the bird and might have to remove any obstructions within the chimney.

It’s advised to wear protective clothing, including gloves and a face mask, to shield yourself from soot and other particles.

Avoid lighting a fire to coax the bird out as this could not only harm or kill the bird but also possibly ignite a chimney fire, given that nest materials are highly combustible.

Will A Bird That Has Died In The Chimney Produce A Smell?

If a bird unfortunately dies in your chimney, it may eventually emit an odor. This is more frequently observed with larger birds, as smaller birds’ bodily fluids tend to dry up more quickly.

How To Prevent Birds Flying Into Your Chimney

Specific laws prohibit the removal of nests from your chimney during the nesting season, so if one is present, you might need to wait before attempting to relocate the birds.

A chimney cap serves as an effective tool to prevent birds from entering your chimney while maintaining proper ventilation.

Helpful Tips To Know About A Dying Bird Stuck In A Chimney

Helpful Tips To Know About A Dying Bird Stuck In A Chimney

If you have an open chimney, you may entice the unfortunate trapped bird to come down by offering food. However, options are limited when a bird gets stuck in a chimney. Here are some helpful suggestions for dealing with distressed birds in your chimney:

  1. First, ensure that the bird is truly stuck. Many species build nests in, on, and around chimneys without needing any assistance, even if they create quite a ruckus.
  2. It is strongly advised not to attempt climbing up or down the chimney yourself if you discover a trapped bird. You don’t want to exacerbate the situation or risk injury, such as broken bones or scratches, not to mention potential damage to your chimney.
  3. Consider contacting your local fire department’s non-emergency line for assistance. However, please refrain from dialing 911 for a bird in a chimney. Sometimes, firefighters may be willing to help retrieve the bird, but this is not guaranteed, and there might be a charge for their services.
  4. Engaging a professional wildlife control service is likely the most reliable way to remove the bird from your chimney. Be aware that they will charge for their time, so it’s prudent to inquire about their rates beforehand.


Q: How do I tell if a bird is truly stuck in my chimney?

A: A trapped bird will often make loud noises and flutter its wings against the sides of the chimney. You may also see debris falling from your flue due to the struggling bird’s movements.

Q: What should I do if I find a dead bird in my chimney?

A: Unfortunately, there may not be much you can do in this situation. You can try contacting a professional wildlife control service to see if they offer bird removal services, but it’s best to have your chimney inspected and potentially cleaned to prevent any further incidents.

Q: Can birds damage my chimney?

A: Yes, birds can potentially cause damage to your chimney by building nests and causing blockages, as well as leaving droppings that can corrode the lining. It’s important to regularly inspect and maintain your chimney to prevent any potential issues.

Q: Can I remove a bird’s nest from my chimney on my own?

A: It is not recommended to remove a bird’s nest without professional assistance, as it may contain live eggs or chicks. It’s also important to note that many species of birds are protected by law and disturbing their nests without proper permits may be illegal. It’s best to consult with a professional wildlife control service for the safe removal of any bird nests in your chimney. Remember, it is always important to prioritize the safety and well-being of both humans and animals in these situations.