Science Photo of the Day #842

Science photo 842

Is it true that touching a baby bird will cause the parents to abandon it?

See the answer.

Zuriel wrote on Sat, 06/08/2013 - 11:23:

I think that they will abandon the birds or eggs AND the nest my sister told me that and I think it is true.

brevard wrote on Mon, 04/08/2013 - 16:44:

I am not really sure but I think they will attack the think that touches them?

Caprig wrote on Tue, 04/02/2013 - 16:11:

It is SO not true!
Birds have a very poor sense of smell,so how can they smell a humans scent?
So it is not true:)

Queen Lucy of Narnia

A.K.A Grace G.

Anonymous wrote on Mon, 03/25/2013 - 14:53:

Depends on the type of bird.

Egans wrote on Wed, 03/20/2013 - 13:37:

A mother bird will NOT abandon it's babies if they are touched by humans. That is just a myth.

manatee wrote on Mon, 03/18/2013 - 18:20:

Auctally I say yes. Humans have different scents then birds or alligators or even each other. Touching a baby bird will cause the parents and other birds to fly or run away from it. Touching a VERY YOUNG baby bird can also kill it. I know this is sad but it's true. :( :( :(

Chloe (11)

manatee wrote on Mon, 03/18/2013 - 18:15:

It may have to do with things that is on your hands. (Grease, dirt, ect) The mother might find that as another baby bird that does not belong to her. I think it is the smell of the things that is on the baby bird, or the look. wrote on Thu, 03/14/2013 - 16:14:

no the mother bird doesn't recognize her babies
leland age 7 wrote on Thu, 03/14/2013 - 15:49:

I think that when a human touches a baby bird, the bird gets human scent on it and the mother will not recognize the baby's smell. Griffin age 9

Egans wrote on Wed, 03/20/2013 - 13:40:

Most birds cannot smell very good at all.

Anonymous wrote on Wed, 03/27/2013 - 13:34:

Cannot smell very WELL. Not GOOD!

lartisane wrote on Tue, 03/12/2013 - 17:50:

yes,because the smell of a human will make the mother leave because when the baby is born,it has a certain smell so when a human smell gets onto the baby,the mom's baby bird won't recognize the smell.:(
Nolan (9)

mekcameron wrote on Tue, 03/12/2013 - 16:24:

yes it is sadly true

joy11joy wrote on Mon, 03/11/2013 - 12:41:

yes, the parents will abandon it because of the smell of human hand.

hssociety wrote on Sat, 03/09/2013 - 10:19:

We recently watched an interview in which staff members at a wild bird recovery center in our area were interviewed and they answered NO to that very question. One of the staff members said that many birds don't have a good sense of smell and that their instinct to care for their young is very strong. And while they didn't recommend handling baby birds they said it would be OK to gently and carefully return a baby to the nest if it looked like it had fallen out. They also recommended watching the nest to see if the parent(s) returned and calling wild bird recovery if they didn't.

Anonymous wrote on Fri, 03/08/2013 - 21:50:

I never heard of that. Probably not.

Anonymous wrote on Fri, 03/08/2013 - 20:05:

I have no idea. That is what everyone says though so I am really not sure. Is it some certain types of birds that would abandon it, and some other types that wouldn't?

brevard wrote on Fri, 03/08/2013 - 13:27:

We believe that when a human touches a baby bird their scent is rubbed off and the mother doesn't recognize it any longer.
Ms. Tagye's Class

joy11joy wrote on Fri, 03/08/2013 - 13:06:

Yes, it will because the smell of your hand will stay on the baby bird. and so the babies parents will not recognize it and will think it is some other birds baby

volusia wrote on Fri, 03/08/2013 - 13:01:

No, it's just something adults tell kids, so they won't accidentially hurt it. Usually, the baby bird is learning how to fly, and has a parent nearby.

joy11joy wrote on Fri, 03/08/2013 - 12:29:

if you touch it, it will smell like your hand and because it smells different, the birds parents will not know it is their babies so yes they will abandon them because their babies will smell totally different to them but not to us

Miles Constantine wrote on Fri, 03/08/2013 - 08:08:


bphodnefield wrote on Thu, 03/07/2013 - 18:31:

IT is true that if you touch a baby bird will cause the parents to abandon it.

racerwon wrote on Thu, 03/07/2013 - 17:53:

No, birds do not have a good sense of smell

dm1978 wrote on Thu, 03/07/2013 - 15:35:

We don't think it is true.

Hopetolearn wrote on Thu, 03/07/2013 - 13:31:

I think it does cause the parents to abandon the baby, so that's why I do not touch them or pick them up.