If I handle a baby bird, will the parents abandon it?

April 20, 2009
A baby bird will still be accepted by its parents if it has been touched by a human. Photo of a Red-cockaded Woodpecker nestling by B A Bowen Photography via Birdshare. A baby bird will still be accepted by its parents if it has been touched by a human. Photo of a Red-cockaded Woodpecker nestling by B A Bowen Photography via Birdshare.
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It’s a myth that parent birds will abandon young that have been touched by humans—most birds have a poor sense of smell, and birds in general identify their young using the same cues we humans do—appearance and sound. It’s perfectly safe to pick up a fallen nestling and put it back in the nest, or to carry a fledgling out of danger and place it in a tree or shrub.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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