This is a common and tricky issue. All the while birds can fly, extracting them from an unsuitable environment, especially if that’s a big building with high ceilings can be very tricky. As a rule, encouraging them to find their own way out is preferable but this depends on the specific scenario.
Birds in a Garden Centre #
This is most likely to be a robin. They are a cheeky species, very used to people and well aware that humans often mean food. It’s probably actually a rare garden centre which doesn’t have one (or even more) robins who sneak in and loiter in the bird food section hoping for snacks. This author has even been to one where the visiting robin had his own dishes of food and water provided! This is very rarely a situation which needs any intervention – little birds can easily come and go through the usually fairly open structure of these buildings. If you’re concerned, have a chat with a staff member who can likely reassure you. If it then seems like there is an issue, contact a local wildlife rescue for further help.
Birds in a Warehouse #
Birds quite often sneak into the wide open doors of a warehouse, some may even make their nest in the high ceiling. If it’s a small bird they usually have a way in and out, especially if they’ve made a nest. But sometimes larger birds, especially birds or prey and corvids, fly in and appear stuck. Catching them to remove them is all but impossible given the vast area and height, and the bird’s ability to change direction mid flight.
The best approach here is to open up the doors of the warehouse early in the morning before staff members are in. Leave the building and just observe from a distance outside. The bird will usually fly out once they feel safe. You’ll need to leave the doors open and the area undisturbed by people for at least an hour.
Birds in a Food Shop #
This is a more dangerous situation as, due to food safety concerns, many food shops will call in pest control to shoot birds if they cannot be removed quickly. In fact this is usually illegal and a license is needed to do anything more than leave the doors open for them to find their way out. There’s government guidance on this here – Wild birds: remove them from food premises using nets or traps – GOV.UK – which you may need to bring to the attention of any shop owners considering called pest control. A local wildlife rescue may be able to help in this situation by sending multiple volunteers with nets to either try and catch the bird or herd them towards the doors.
Birds in an Empty Residence or Shop #
Intervention is usually needed here. Often the birds find their way in through a slightly open or broken window but then cannot find the small gap to get back out. They may be seen frantically flying against windows trying to escape. The most common bird to be in this situation is the pigeon, given their curious nature and tendency to hang out in high streets and residential areas. You might find some apathy in seeking help since it’s ‘just a pigeon’ but pigeons have the same legal right to help here as any other bird.
The first step is to try and locate the owner of the building. There may be an estate agent sign outside which will help with this or, if the shop is part of a chain, you can try their head office. The owner of the property has a legal duty to take action to prevent the bird’s suffering under the Animal Welfare Act so should promptly arrange for someone to attend and free the bird. If this doesn’t happen then the next point of contact should be the RSPCA, local police Wildlife Crime Officer and potentially the Fire Brigade. The first two should be able to put pressure on the property owner to do the right thing. The third will usually attend, though sometimes only at the request of the RSPCA, to perform any rescue such as removing a window that might be needed if access cannot be made any other way.