How Do You Collar a Collared Dove? UPDATED!

A dove has been stuck in my chicken coop for two days, and I can’t get it to fly out! I’m pretty sure it got in through a largish gap over the door of the coop, probably attracted by the grain or water. Or maybe it flew in while the chickens were enjoying their evening free-range time, when the door was open.

Now the damn dove is stuck, and no matter how often we leave the coop door (full, human-sized screen door) open or wave our arms at it to shoo it out, the damn dove just flies in panicky circles around the top of the coop, which is about two feet above the door. It flies so close to freedom but seems unable to perceive that the opening could be anywhere but the top of the coop.

Poor thing. Its mate (we think) comes and sits in a nearby banana tree and squawks and flaps at it, apparently trying to entice it out. I don’t want to cut the chicken wire at the top of the completely enclosed coop, but I’m not sure what else to do. Any suggestions?

UPDATE: Victory at last! I got a long-handled fishing net from the shed and finally shooed the damn dove out! With the net, I was able to make it fly a bit lower, so it sailed right through the door, over the house and out of sight. The dove is probably regaling its avian friends with tales of the malevolence of chickens and net-waving monsters right now. Thanks for all your suggestions!

82 replies
  1. 1
    debbie says:

    A trail of bread crumbs?

  2. 2
    JPL says:

    Since 9/11, doves have become endangered. Save the dove!

  3. 3
    gogol's wife says:

    Does it ever sit on the ground where you could throw a blanket over it and then kind of maneuver it out the door? That’s what my friend’s capable husband did for me when one of my cats had brought one in and it was sitting on my bed. He somehow got it to the window and it flew away.

  4. 4
    Betty Cracker says:

    @debbie: The chickens would eat the breadcrumbs. I think one of the problems is that the dove is afraid of the chickens, so it stays near the top of the coop to avoid them.

  5. 5
    debbie says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Ah, thought your birds were free range. I remember, when I was a kid, a sparrow flew into the basement through a window, and my parents debated wether corn flakes or Rice Krispies would be better bait. My father went with corn flakes and after an hour or two, the bird hopped out the back door with a very full stomach.

  6. 6
    Josie says:

    You need to net it. There are nets made to catch birds that work quite well.

  7. 7
    PlanetPundit (used to be Sir Laffs-a-Lot) says:

    Betty borrow Steve from Cole….. you’re problem will be solved one way or another and we all get great Steve action pix!

  8. 8
    MomSense says:

    @PlanetPundit (used to be Sir Laffs-a-Lot):

    great Steve action pix


  9. 9
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    Garden hose? Maybe on mist setting if you don’t want to drench the coop.

    A starling got stuck in a colleague’s office at work one weekend. Messy birds. :-( I managed to catch it in a box, but I assume you can’t get inside the coop.

    Good luck!


  10. 10
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Josie: I know we’ve got some fishing nets around here somewhere (not the cast kind — the regular kind). I wonder if that would work. I’m starting to think we’re going to have to catch it to save it. The chickens were free ranging for hours both days, and it didn’t take that opportunity to leave.

  11. 11
    Jerzy Russian says:

    You might be out of luck if the dove is avoiding the chickens, since it does not sound like it would be easy to evacuate the chickens.

    I have not seen detailed plans of the coop, but I would rig up some kind of screen door at the top, complete with a pulley system to open and close it. It is overkill, but I personally like building things when I find the time.

  12. 12
    Betty Cracker says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: I can totally get in the coop — it’s huge! In fact, it’s so big that it works against me to catch the dove; there’s plenty of room for it to evade me. The coop is about 10 feet high by 20 by 30 and completely enclosed in chicken wire.

  13. 13
    Ken says:

    Cover everything but the door wiith a tarp or blankets and leave the door open. Birds will go towards the light.

  14. 14
    JDM says:

    We used to have a similar problem with swallows getting into the house, which had high ceilings. They aren’t the sharpest birds (a hawk had no problem figuring out where the open window was and how to get there.). I’d suggest two people with brooms, one near but to the side of the door. Wave the broom as much above the bird as you can to encourage it to fly down, and the person near the door can position their broom high up to keep the bird flying low enough that it will fly out the door.

  15. 15
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Betty Cracker: Then I’d try something like the following (just thinking out loud):

    – Cover the top and 3 sides so they’re dark. Have the side with the door uncovered.
    – Move a ladder inside.
    – Hang a tarp from the ceiling then slowly push it over toward the door.
    – [… Step 2 …]
    – Success!

    But maybe the garden hose is worth trying first.

    Good luck, but be careful.


  16. 16
    Josie says:

    @Betty Cracker: A fishing net might work if the weave is tight enough. The nice thing about a dove is that it can’t hurt you when you untangle it from the net. I used to raise cockatiels, and those suckers could chomp a piece out of you.

    ETA: You might need two people – one to herd it and one to net it.

  17. 17
    Paul in KY says:

    Use a net.

  18. 18
    Belafon says:

    Is the roof letting light in? If it is, you might try covering it so that the door is the only light source. And then maybe someone with a broom to give it direction.

    The other bird could be laughing at it.

  19. 19
    Jerzy Russian says:


    Is the roof letting light in? If it is, you might try covering it so that the door is the only light source. And then maybe someone with a broom to give it direction.

    It sounds like the poor guy is too scared to fly low enough to duck under the top of the door. As long as someone else actually would be implementing my plans, I would suggest this additional modification: attach a tarp to the top of the door frame on one end and to the middle of the roof at the other end. This will make a kind of a funnel that would help direct the bird as it flies near the roof.

  20. 20
    Raven says:

    Move chickens and leave it alone.

  21. 21
    Punchy says:

    Poor thing. Its mate (we think) comes and sits in a nearby banana tree and squawks and flaps at it, apparently trying to entice it out.

    Have you considered that maybe it’s using your coop as a domestic violence shelter, and its abusive mate is cussing at her from the banana tree?

  22. 22
    p.a. says:

    Dove and Pigeon Recipes – Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

    Sorry, can’t resist a setup like this

  23. 23
    Barry says:

    Cut the wire, let it out, and be done with it. That’s the second simplest solution.

  24. 24
    dedc79 says:

    I volunteered for a summer at a place called the Raptor Trust, which took in injured birds of all kinds, cared for them, and then released the ones that were capable of going back into the wild. It was an incredible experience overall, but the doves were far and away the dumbest of the birds that I encountered the whole time.

  25. 25
    Cervantes says:

    Bird wants to leave but only through the top?

    Easy.: tip the coop over on its side with the open door on top.

    Bet you wish you’d thought of that.

    (I am available for all sorts of consulting. Reasonable fees, generous terms, free home-made pie.)

  26. 26
    Raven says:

    @Cervantes: Well played!

  27. 27
    jibeaux says:

    @Cervantes: she said it’s a 20 by 30 coop. The McMansion of coops.
    Can you get the chickens out? Might calm it down enough to see the damn door.

  28. 28
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    The verdict is in on school choice reforms in Sweden.

  29. 29
    chopper says:

    set up a boombox playing Ernie’s (from Sesame Street) song “Doin’ the Pigeon”.

    it’ll flee, afraid that a muppet wants to have sex with it.

  30. 30
    chopper says:


    nuke it from orbit. it’s the only way to be sure.

  31. 31
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Today is the anniversary of the Bay View Massacre.

  32. 32
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Betty Cracker: At least once a year a bird comes down my woodstove flue pipe. Trying to catch them as they fly out of the woodstove is always useless. But I have managed to catch all of them with a regular fishing net (and a little help from Miss Kitty) every time. Always took a while but then I suspect my house is a little large than your coop.

  33. 33
    Paul in KY says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Thanks for the link. ‘Shoot to Kill’ anyone trying to enter the mill! Republican governor, natch.

  34. 34
    jeffreyw says:

    We sometimes get hummingbirds trapped in the garage and they always fly about just under the roof, ignoring the wide open 18 foot roll up door. We have had some success luring them to a nectar feeder hung in the middle of an open window but often as not they fly from there back into the garage instead of out into the open.

  35. 35
    Bobby B. says:

    Stop feeding it and it will grow thin enough to get out of Rabbit’s hole…oh, wait.

  36. 36
    Han says:

    @chopper: That was Bert. The uptight half of the couple.

    Ernie was the outgoing one who had the thing for rubber and ducks.

  37. 37
    Ruckus says:

    Seen this before. But not in a 10 ft high coop. That gives the bird too much freedom so it can stay away from you. You could try a piece of cardboard, big enough to allow you to reach the top and slowly close off the area so that the bird really has to fly out to get away from you. Probably take two people, maybe more to create a big enough area with the cardboard that the bird can fly but not so big that you get too close. Slowly create a smaller area towards the open door holding the cardboard vertical and as you approach the door slowly move the top of the cardboard away from vertical towards the door, making like a funnel that lowers the roof for the bird. It will fly lower and try to escape from you, out the door.

  38. 38
    Bill says:

    Have you tried offering it a tax cut and less regulations? Someone told me that solves everything.

    Instead of trying to catch it in a net or blanket, use one to “herd” it towards the door.

  39. 39

    Any suggestions?

    Braise lightly in olive oil and serve on a bed of wild rice with red cabbage.

  40. 40
    Betty Cracker says:

    Updated above — the bird flew the coop!

  41. 41
    Booger says:

    A large landing net is great. Make the bag more manageable by using a cable tie to pinch it closed about halfway down. That way it’s more like a sad tennis racket than a big awkward fishing net.

  42. 42
    Culture of Truth says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Updated above — the bird flew the coop!

    He never writes, he never calls…

  43. 43
    raven says:

    @Betty Cracker: And the approach was?

  44. 44
    chopper says:


    ah yes, my mistake. I always get gay couples mixed up.

  45. 45
    Betty Cracker says:

    @raven: Used a long-handled fishing net to scare it out the door. I was prepared to capture it if need be (I was not able to focus on work with the damn thing swooping and flying to and fro right outside the window). But the net handle was long enough that I could confine it to the front of the coop (where the door is) and scare it away from the ceiling so it went out the door.

    Damn, those birds are stoooooo-pid! The chickens are a flock of Einsteins compared to that dumb-ass dove!

  46. 46
    Elizabelle says:

    @Punchy: funny

  47. 47
    CaseyL says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Damn, those birds are stoooooo-pid! The chickens are a flock of Einsteins compared to that dumb-ass dove!

    Doves are lovely and their cooing is pleasing to the ear, but I think their basic raison d’etre is to be food. Hence the lack of problem-solving skills.

  48. 48
    Ruckus says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    And those chickens are no Einsteins!

  49. 49
    Amir Khalid says:

    I used to have a sparrow fly into the house once in a while. In the months after Bianca followed me home, some ten years ago, she twice caught a sparrow that had flown in. Neither bird lived to tell the tale. Since then, no sparrow has tried it.

  50. 50
    MomSense says:


    Ok, now I have the weirdest, most annoying earworm-evah.

    I have Bert singing “doing the eeeeeee oooooooo piii-geon, doing the eeeeeeee oooooooo piiii-geon” running through my head.

  51. 51
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    Doves are pigeons putting on airs. Except not as clever. I’m happy to hear it found freedom at last.

  52. 52
    chopper says:


    you’d think Bert would be less uptight given that he ‘does the pigeon every day’.

  53. 53
    Cervantes says:


    she said it’s a 20 by 30 coop. The McMansion of coops.

    Even so, as Archimedes said:

    Πᾷ βῶ, καὶ χαριστίωνι τὰν γᾶν κινήσω πᾶσαν

    Francis Walton’s translation: “Give me but a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.”

    Again, I’m being totally serious. (Reasonable fees, generous terms, free home-made pie.)

  54. 54
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cervantes: What kind of pie?

  55. 55
    Cervantes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    The kind Marie de Medici served her bridegroom, Henri IV, at their wedding: Flying out at last “when the pie was opened, the birds began to sing, and wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?”

  56. 56
    Tone in DC says:

    A lot of our fine feathered friends could be a bit quicker on the uptake (so saith the oracle known as Animal Planet). Apparently, some blackbirds (such as crows) are rather intelligent, and have a good memory for faces.

    As for the pigeon-putting-on-airs, glad you got rid of it. Whether the mate was laughing at it or not. Though I would have enjoyed the Steve in Action pix.

  57. 57
    Tone in DC says:

    Bert and Ernie are positively subversive. Earworms and all.

    But nowhere near as dangerous to good order and the status quo as Snoopy and Woodstock. A beagle with a Sopwith Camel, a pool table and cooking skills? Look the hell out.

  58. 58
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cervantes: I’d prefer raspberry.

  59. 59
    MomSense says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I’m watching my rhubarb in anticipation of the greatest pie ever–strawberry rhubarb.

  60. 60
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @MomSense: Strawberry rhubarb would also be good. Or rhubarb alone. I am not picky. Hell, I like mincemeat.

  61. 61
    Cervantes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Imagine trying to chase a raspberry out of a chicken coop.

  62. 62
    Cervantes says:

    @Tone in DC:

    But nowhere near as dangerous to good order and the status quo as Snoopy and Woodstock. A beagle with a Sopwith Camel, a pool table and cooking skills? Look the hell out.

    And yet World War Two always seemed to get the better of him, the poor mutt.

  63. 63
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cervantes: My favorite kōan.

  64. 64
    MomSense says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    You like mincemeat?? I haven’t made a mincemeat pie since my grandfather died. I thought the taste for them died with that generation.

    I make all the pies. Even better than raspberry is raspberry peach but only with fresh peaches.

  65. 65
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @MomSense: My father and I are perhaps the last of a dying breed.

  66. 66
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Tone in DC: Bird intelligence is mystifying to me. My father has an evil cockatoo that is capable of holding grudges for days and planning and executing intricate revenge plots. And yet the bird’s brain can’t be any larger than a lentil.

  67. 67
    MomSense says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Do you put a slice of cheddar on your apple pie?

  68. 68
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @MomSense: No, but apple crisp does require cheese, IMO.

  69. 69
    MomSense says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    You are old school. Nice.

  70. 70
    Steeplejack says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Oh, hell, we have a mincemeat pie discussion here practically every Thanksgiving, e.g., last year, and the mincemeat fans come out of the woodwork.

    But, yes, perhaps we are a dying breed.

  71. 71
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Steeplejack: We ain’t gettin’ no younger.

  72. 72
    Steeplejack says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    True dat. But I’m always on the lookout for youngsters to seduce—er, to the ways of mincemeat pie, of course.

  73. 73
    MomSense says:


    I’m probably in the dying breed of mincemeat pie makers.

  74. 74
    Steeplejack says:


    What’s your family history with it? I used to think it was a Southern thing, but Omnes told me it was big in the upper Midwest, too.

  75. 75
    NotMax says:


    Mincemeat pie used to be a requirement for Thanksgiving and/or Xmas time in the Northeast.

  76. 76
    Cervantes says:


    Mincemeat as a Christmas thing is quintessential Victorian England.

  77. 77
    NotMax says:


    Curious if you prepare it with suet, with meat or with shortening.

    Making a less traditional mincemeat is one way to make use of leftover mutton.

  78. 78
    MomSense says:


    From the Connecticut Yankee farming branch of the family.


    I used meat and some beef suet plus lots of fruit and some brandy. I rarely use shortening except to grease baking pans.

  79. 79
    Tone in DC says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Sounds a bit diabolical.

  80. 80
    BruceJ says:

    @CaseyL: Yes. . I personally have watched mourning doves sit in the grass watching an oncoming cat like they were in ‘Jurassic Park’ “Don’t move…they can only sense movement!” right up to the pounce. Also, too doves were the only birds my mom’s dumb miniature poodles ever caught.

    Finally there’s this brilliant member of the species who constructed a nest…on the mop by my kitchen door . We couldn’t use our mop for three weeks until she realized there were no eggs there and flew off.

  81. 81
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    From my experience of having hundreds of them live in the trees over my backyard, doves are some of the dumbest–and I mean DUMBEST– birds on the planet.’

    From flying down/getting stuck in my chimney to wandering through my doggie door only to commence a flying-feather-freak-out when they see one of my cats to the steady stream of “SLAM!!” into my sliding glass doors in the spring, these birds have proven to me that they are the chuckleheads of the aviary world.

    The fact that they bombard my patio and any furniture I’m stupid enough to leave on it with blue-berry colored poop all summer does not endear them to me at all. They don’t even run away when you rush towards them to shoo them off! So I don’t spend a lot of energy feeling bad when I occasionally find one or two on my front porch, gutted by my feline killer beasties.

    How he managed to elude you so long is frigging hilarious. :-)

  82. 82

    […] that’s the self-same collared dove I rescued this morning from its two-day confinement in my chicken coop. I recognize the spots on its wing and an odd tuft […]

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