If only every bird were so lucky. On Sunday night, a short video showing Jon Hamm rescuing a trapped hummingbird melted bird- and Mad Men-fans’ hearts alike. (It was originally posted to Instagram by Jenni Konner, producer of HBO’s Girls)
The scene (watch below) opens with the bird—of an unidentified species, although Anna’s Hummingbird (common in southern California) is a decent guess—trapped inside a house, dangerously close to a crowd of raucous humans. It flutters near the ceiling as two Girls actors attempt to assist it with a towel and a baseball glove. Then Hamm swoops in with a baseball cap and in one fluid motion ushers the hummingbird out of the house and through an open door to freedom.
We will never know exactly why this hummingbird crashed a celebrity party, but the answer is probably less glamorous than the star-studded attendees—it was probably just after the snacks. Birds typically fly indoors while searching for food says Paula Goldberg, the executive director of City Wildlife, the only wildlife rehab center in Washington, D.C.
Last summer, she received a call when a hummingbird flew into a D.C. grocery store. She suspects the promise of nectar from the store’s floral section lured it in. “The poor bird thought it hit the jackpot! But then it got trapped,” she says.
Trapped birds often fly upwards to attempt a quick escape—but are foiled by the ceiling and dizzying lights.
Here’s how you can best help any small bird that might stumble into your home:
DO count to 10 and calm yourself down. It is not an emergency. The bird is safe and so are you. “There is not a high likelihood of the bird scratching you or biting you,” says Goldberg.
DON’T yell or chase the bird. It doesn’t need more stress.
DO remove immediate dangers from the room. Turn off the ceiling fan. Escort pets elsewhere. Quench open flames and, if you’re in the kitchen, cover hot pots. “They don’t know that water in the pot you’re boiling for pasta is an issue,” says Goldberg.
DO give the bird an opportunity to see itself out. Turn out the lights, open the windows, close the door, and leave it alone. Be patient. If it’s dark outside, you may need to wait overnight for it to see the light. “The bird will follow light if it’s light outside,” says Goldberg.
DO remove all food and water sources from the room. Give it no reason to stay.
If the trapped bird can’t find the exit, a more hands-on approach may be necessary:
DO wash your hands, even if you don’t plan on handling the bird. Even a small amount of oil from your skin can damage a bird’s feathers, and “a bird is not releasable if its feathers are at all damaged,” says Goldberg.
DO hold up a towel or sheet to block the bird from flying farther indoors.
DO calmly chase the bird to tire it out if it has not already exhausted itself. If you must use a broom, wave it; don’t swat at the bird. When tired, it will stop flying around and rest on a comfortable perch.
DO turn a box on its side, hold it next to the bird, and push it inside with a small towel. Use the towel (or another object) to cover the opening as you quickly and steadily carry the box outside.
DON’T accidentally drop the box on the bird if attempting to capture it from above (this could hurt the bird).
If the bird readily flies away, pat yourself on the back. You are a hero the likes of Jon Hamm. If it doesn’t, call your local wildlife rehabilitation center.
And finally, DON’T attempt to capture and release a trapped hawk or other large bird. Call animal control or your local wildlife rehabilitation center.