If you touch a baby bird, will the mother reject it? Will human interface harm the survival of the little bird?

Picture this: you are cleaning out your backyard, only to find that you have a baby bird hanging out at the foot of your tree. You look up to see a nest. What do you do?

What is the best course of action in such a situation? Read on to learn more!

If You Youch A Baby Bird, Will The Mother Reject It?

Have you heard this saying before? Has it discouraged you from picking up and helping a baby bird? It sounds pretty silly right off the bat, but there is scientific evidence for the myth not to be accurate, as well.

Will a mother bird come back if you touch her babies? If you have heard this saying before, then perhaps it was in the best interest of the bird that you were thinking of helping.

It might be hard to look the other way, but intentionally removing the bird could get in the course of the natural order of things and hamper the development of the bird.

Your parents may have also been afraid of any germs that you may get from handling the bird if any! Or they may have known that it’s the best course of action at that moment in time. Either way, even if it’s a silly saying, it does help prevent unnecessary human intervention in the development of young birds.

 should i put a baby bird back in its nest

Why Touching Baby Birds Does Nothing

This anecdote is nothing more than a valuable tall tale that prevents us from picking up birds. This protocol is well-meaning in its own right, but it is not accurate. Here are some of the reasons why this myth is not the case.

Birds Have Poor Olfactory Capabilities

This is just a fancy way of saying that these animals do not have a strong sense of smell. Though there have been studies of some birds having a decent sense of smell, this doesn’t change the fact that it doesn’t factor into too much of their daily lives. After all, most odors dissipate in the wind when they’re up in the air! 

That’s why even if you touch the baby, your smell will not be detected by the parents. Even if your human oil and scent have made their way to the body and feathers of the baby bird, it will not take effect. How the parent accepts their young will be as usual.

Parent Birds are not Likely to Abandon Their Young

Birds are relatively family-oriented in their own right – at least, for the brooding and hatching season. Many birds mate for life and take care of their babies while in the nest. They typically have a solid attachment to their young and only leave them alone once their babies have learned to fly, hunt or forage, and live life on their own.

It isn’t likely for any birds to abandon their young once a human has helped them out. Even if they could smell your scent on their young, this will not prevent them from taking care of them when they need assistance.

 will a mother bird abandon her baby if i touch it

Birds Outside of Their Nest Likely Jumped out on Their Own

When they are found outside of the nest, these birds likely jump out on their own. Attempting to bring them back into their nest may only result in them jumping back out onto the ground. Don’t be shocked when that happens, and consider it a wildlife lesson learned instead!

They may have managed their way to the floor of their own design. They could have been practicing to graduate from being a nestling into a full-fledged bird. If you tried to get in that way, it would not be to the benefit of the bird trying to move onto the next stage of its life!

What Should You Do With A Fallen Baby Bird?

Should I put a baby bird back in its nest? The answer to this dilemma depends on the bird’s age that you are attempting to help. Observe its condition, especially what stage of development the bird is already in. This will help you find out if the bird needs your help or not.

If the bird is fledging with feathers, do not attempt to help them back into their nest. They are likely to have hopped out of the nest. This could have been an attempt to fly on their own. This is part of a process that they must go through by themselves and do not need human intervention to help them.

However, if the bird has not developed feathers yet, it is a vulnerable bird. You can attempt to bring the baby back into the nest, as there is no way for them to come back to their nest. Give them a helping hand if you can.

If you do not see the nest (which could be hidden in the tree), if you plan to care for the bird, it might be the best course of action to contact your local wildlife authority and get their advice. If it is a delicate situation, injury, or species that you have found, they come to collect the young to help it survive. Trust the authorities on their advice and support their line of action.

Be aware of the situation you are handling and discern whether or not the scene requires your assistance. If all else fails, you can contact your local conservationist or wildlife institution to get detailed instructions on what to do next.


If you touch a baby bird will the mother reject it? It is safe for humans to handle baby birds – but only when it is necessary to do so. Giving a helping hand to the birds only when required won’t cause the parent bird to help the baby bird, so you don’t need to worry about that if you need to handle some baby bird business.

Have you heard this anecdote before? Have you helped out a bird get out of a tight spot? Let us know in the comments below!

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