- Catching of birds may be facilitated by designing feeding, perching or roosting
areas to be easily closed off while they are in use by the birds; this is particularly
important when birds are kept in large areas.
- Various sizes of nets are useful for catching a wide variety of bird species. Net
mesh size should be sufficiently small to minimize the risk of entanglement; thin cloth
may be preferable to mesh for very small birds. A net with a padded rim is useful
particularly with smaller birds to reduce the risk of injury if the bird is caught between
the rim and a solid object.
- A piece of cloth of appropriate size, such as a towel, may be dropped over a bird
which is on the ground and may also be used in the capture of birds which are in a box on
- The use of gloves may be appropriate with some species such as raptors. However,
the loss of sensitivity associated with gloves must be remembered. In particular, the use
of gloves should be avoided when handling small birds.
- When possible, birds may be driven or lured into a smaller space for catching.
The safety porch of an aviary may be used for this purpose: with the outer door carefully
locked and the inner door opened, one or several birds are encouraged to enter the safety
porch, after which a person with a net and a cage, as appropriate, carefully slips into
the area to catch the birds. It is likely to be easier to drive birds into a safety porch
if this is sited in a corner of the aviary, so that the birds may be driven along one side
of the netting.
- A safety porch may also be used to catch an escaped bird. In this case the inner
door is secured and the outer door left open, with food and water placed inside the safety
porch. An observer watches from an unobtrusive vantage point and waits to close the door
once the bird is inside. Extra care must be employed to ensure the bird does not escape
back out of the outer door if this must be opened to allow someone inside to open the
- In large open enclosures, when catching birds which are unable to fly (e.g.
moulting, pinioned, naturally flightless), it may be possible to herd the birds into a
smaller area such as a corner temporarily blocked off by netting, prior to catching.
- Catching fully flighted birds in very large aviaries may be extremely difficult.
Consideration should be given to designing the aviary in such a way that birds can easily
be caught by being trapped in feeding or roosting areas.
- Catching waterfowl on a lake may require several people, on land and in boats (B16.19.w1). N.B.
catching wild waterfowl, particularly diving ducks, on water, is extremely difficult.
- A long-handled deep net is useful for catching waterfowl (B40,
The size of net and mesh should be matched to the size of the bird being caught. A padded
rim may reduce the risk of injury if a bird is caught under the rim of the net, but may
also become waterlogged and heavy (V.w5).
- A large piece of cloth, such as a large towel or a coat, may also be dropped over
the bird if it is on land (V.w5).
- Swans and geese may be caught using a swan hook to grasp the neck, quickly
followed by grasping the base of the wings, then holding the body with wings folded.
However, birds may be wary of poles and avoid them. It is also possible to catch a goose
or swan in a similar manner by hand, with one hand grasping the neck just behind the head,
and the second hand grasping the base of one or both wings, prior to gathering the wings
up with the body.
- A catching cage may be constructed in an enclosure, with a funnel entrance and
food inside as bait. This may be particularly useful for catching diving ducks (B108).
Catching cages may also be used for catching wild birds for ringing (B122).
- Traditionally, a "decoy" may be used. A decoy is a curving
"pipe" of water, covered with netting held up by semi-circular pipes, leading
from a pond. The pipe tapers down from a wide tall entrance and traditionally several
pipes would be built around one pond, so that whichever pipe lead best into the wind could
be used. Waterfowl may be enticed into the pipe using food, or utilizing resident ducks
such as call ducks (Anas
platyrhynchos domesticus - Domestic duck), or a small
trained dog, making use of the tendency of waterfowl, particularly dabbling ducks, on
water to swim towards such a potential predator. A series of screens alongside the
pipe hide the decoy-man from the birds on the main area of water, but allow him to be seen
by the ducks in the pipe if he wishes. It is therefore possible, once the birds have
entered the pipe, to drive them further along it without disturbing birds still on the
pond. Originally designed to catch ducks for eating, decoys have been used more recently
to catch waterfowl for banding (B122).
- Catching waterfowl by driving them into funnels may be employed particularly
during the flightless period of the moult (P12.10).
- Cannon nets are also used to catch wild waterfowl for ringing, or during disease
investigation & control operations (B36.4.w4, B122).
- For catching oiled seabirds such as scoters (Melanitta
spp.), one method which has been found useful is to catch the birds on shore just before
dawn at low tide. This reduces the chance of the ducks detecting the catchers and
increases the distance the birds must move to reach the water where they can escape. The
catchers preferably approach the birds from the west so that they are hidden as much as
possible and have an increased opportunity to spot the birds against the lightening sky.
One person walks along the water's edge, the other at the high tide mark. When a bird is
spotted it may be possible to approach and grab it, sometimes assisted by momentarily
dazzling the bird with a torch (flashlight), or if the approach of the person at high tide
"flushes" the bird, it may be caught by the other person before it reaches the
water. Catching with a towel or a landing net was suggested (P14.5.w6).
- An alternative to catching and holding for moving some large
aggressive species (e.g. Cereopsis
novaehollandiae - Cape Barren goose) short distances is to use
"kick-boards" - wooden boards on handles, kept between the person and the bird
and used to usher it in the required direction (N1.99.w1).