Tips to Save Bird Tangled in Fishing Line

Bird Tangled in Fishing Line

Seeing a catch on the end of your fishing line is usually an exciting sight, however not all catches are the ones we want to get.

Unfortunately, birds can become victims of your favorite outdoor activity, and as a responsible angler you should know how to help them.

Bird tangled in fishing line can be a horrible experience, and depending on a bird species, even a bit dangerous one. There are some steps to follow to release it unharmed, from gently reeling the bird to carefully holding it to remove the hook if attached to the bird.

Panicking creatures will try to defend themselves or run away at all costs, but there are ways to overcome this problem and rerelease it.

Birds and anglers usually get along well, but keep in mind that they too love fish, and even certain baits, so be aware of your surroundings and try to prevent any accidents.

Here I will give you some tips so that you know how to react if you accidentally catch a bird!



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What to Do When a Bird is Tangled to Your Fishing Line? [Best Tips]

First of all, bird tangled in fishing line is something that can happen to anyone. And I’m not talking about bird’s nests and baitcasters here, but about real birds!

Catching a bird is a rare occurrence, but you still have to be prepared.

Before I list the tips about releasing a bird, I will tell you about a few tips on how to prevent catching one. Enjoy the nature and observe it, don’t be focused only on the water. If there are birds feeding nearby, try not to cast next to them. If you are prebaiting (or fishing) with bread or corn, keep in mind that you can attract birds too. When retrieving a fish there is not much you can do, so be vigilant if birds are near.

And when you are disposing your lines, do it carefully. Get them recycled, cut them in short pieces and never leave them in nature!

That’s it, now let`s get to the tips!

Tip #1: Don’t cut the line!

Many anglers will react in a way to get rid of the bird as soon as possible and it may seem easy to just cut the line.

However, the line will remain tangled around the bird, and this may lead to slow and painful death, especially if the hook is stuck somewhere on the bird.

Line tangled around wings will prevent the bird from flying. Even if the line is tangled around some “less important” parts of the bird, it may still impair the bird’s ability to feed normally. These magnificent creatures deserve to live, and some species are even protected by law. Never release birds that have line stuck around them.

Bird Tangled in Fishing Line - Dont-Cut

Tip #2: Gently reel in

The only way to remove the line is to get the bird in your arms reach. The best way to do so is to reel in gently and slowly. Birds are sensitive creatures and erratic and aggressive movement may cause injuries.

Observe the bird, try to evaluate the situation, and adapt the speed and style of your retrieve. Of course, small birds will be easier to handle like this than very large ones, but the end goal is the same: to get it as close as possible with minimal damage.

Tip #3: Immobilize the bird

Tangled wild birds will panic, flap their wings, and maybe even try to bite you. It is a completely natural reaction that may lead to even larger injuries on the bird. You must prevent it from throwing around like crazy.

Take a towel or a shirt and wrap it around the bird. That will protect the bird as well as you. Hold it securely but gently to prevent sudden movement and even worse line tangles. Ask someone for help. The easiest way to start detangling is having one person holding a bird and another to remove the line.

If you caught bird with large beak, control the beak first. Hold it with your hand. Make sure that you fold the wings in a natural way so that you follow the joints movement. To keep the bird calm, cover its head with a cloth to prevent it from seeing around.

Bird Tangled in Fishing Line - Immobilize

Tip #4: Remove the line/hook

If the bird is not hooked, you will have less work to do. To remove the line don’t pull it to prevent injuries on the bird. Cut it carefully and remove piece by piece. Hold the bird and don’t let it escape with line still on it.

If the bird is hooked with a barbed hook, try to cut off the barbed tip and then pull the hook out in the same way as it went in. It is similar to hook removal process when you want to release the fish. If you used barbless hooks removal process will be easier. In my article you can check and learn more about fishing and benefits with barbless hooks.

Make sure that you removed all line parts as feathers can hide it.

Tip #5: Call local wildlife center for help if necessary

Before you release the bird, try to see is it in good shape. If there are no injuries and the line/hook removal process went easily, you can release the bird.

In some cases, injuries happen. Birds can deeply swallow your hook and you may not be able to remove it. Wings may get broken. There are many bad outcomes, and it is your responsibility to help.

If you release an injured bird, you may be sentencing it to a painful death. Instead of releasing a bird call a local wildlife rehabilitation center or similar organization that can get the bird, rehabilitate it, and release it safely afterwards. I would advise you too search such organizations in your area and save their contact number to have it you need it!

Tip #6: Carefully release the bird

After you removed the line and this horrible experience is over, don’t simply throw the bird in the air or release it in an aggressive and shocking way. Bird will be scared and disoriented.

Remove the cloth from the bird’s head, gently lower it on the ground and remove the towel and let the bird fly away on its own! Some birds will disappear in a second, and others may stand there a moment before they fly off! If they don’t fly off, there is a high chance that something is wrong. In that case, immobilize the bird and call experts for help!

If you want to know more about birds and their life, check out this website You will learn a lot and understand their behavior better.

And if fishing line tangles are a frequent problem you are facing regardless of birds, you can find some solutions here in my detailed article!

Bird Tangled in Fishing Line - Release


Both people and birds love fish, and unfortunately sometimes those two worlds collide. If you accidentally catch a bird, stay calm and do your best to release it with no harm.

By following the given tips for bird tangled in fishing line you are minimizing potential damage and increasing the bird’s chances for survival.

If you can’t safely untangle the line or the bird is injured, call experienced bird rehabilitators for assistance and never release them injured!

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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