Podcast #128: We chat with Kent C Dodds about why he loves React and discuss what life was like in the dark days before Git. Listen now.
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  • Birds identify their young by sound and appearance not smell (or taste) and being touched by a human does not modify a young bird's appearance or the sounds it makes.
  • Studies have show many species of bird will feed and care for offspring other than their own.
  • Like most creatures, birds have a strong biological instinct to care for their young and will not abandon them without just cause.

Notes:

  • If you find a baby bird put it back in its nest. If it is in danger: Get it out of danger and place it in a tree or shrub.
  • Do not mess withdisturb bird nests (or wild rabbits in general).
  • Wash your hands.
  • If you find a baby bird put it back in its nest. If it is in danger: Get it out of danger and place it in a tree or shrub.
  • Do not mess with bird nests (or wild rabbits in general).
  • Wash your hands.
  • Birds identify their young by sound and appearance not smell (or taste) and being touched by a human does not modify a young bird's appearance or the sounds it makes.
  • Studies have show many species of bird will feed and care for offspring other than their own.
  • Like most creatures, birds have a strong biological instinct to care for their young and will not abandon them without just cause.

Notes:

  • If you find a baby bird put it back in its nest. If it is in danger: Get it out of danger and place it in a tree or shrub.
  • Do not disturb bird nests.
  • Wash your hands.
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  • Some don't even care, or know, if it is not their offspring

Both the male and female Western Bluebirds fed unrelated nestlings at the same rate as their own offspring.

Neither male nor female Western Bluebirds preferentially fed related nestlings, suggesting that they may not recognize their own young.
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  • Some don't even care if it is not their offspring

Both the male and female Western Bluebirds fed unrelated nestlings at the same rate as their own offspring.
Source

  • Some don't even care, or know, if it is not their offspring

Both the male and female Western Bluebirds fed unrelated nestlings at the same rate as their own offspring.

Neither male nor female Western Bluebirds preferentially fed related nestlings, suggesting that they may not recognize their own young.
Source

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No.

A mother bird will not abandon her young if it's touched by a human.

  • Birds do not identify their offspring by smell nor do they abandon their young without a good reason.

No matter how flighty birds appear, they do not readily abandon their young, especially not in response to human touch, says Frank B. Gill, former president of the American Ornithologists' Union.
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  • Sight and sound: Baby birds chirp for a reason.

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.
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  • Some don't even care if it is not their offspring

Both the male and female Western Bluebirds fed unrelated nestlings at the same rate as their own offspring.
Source

  • Preservation of the species.

This prevalent belief, however, is for the birds: it denies animal parents' innate drive to nurture their broods and ignores a bird's basic biology.

In fact, most creatures find extraordinary ways to ensure the survival of their young. Killdeer and ducks will feign a broken wing to lure a predator away from their babies, and raccoons and tree squirrels will speedily relocate their progeny to more protected pastures when a potential threat is skulking about.
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  • Nests are a different matter.

Still, there's good reason not to go fiddling around in an occupied nest. "The fact is, birds don't abandon their young in response to touch, [but] they will abandon [their offspring and their nest] in response to disturbance," explains biologist Thomas E. Martin of the University of Montana and the U.S. Geological Survey, who has handled birds from Venezuela to Tasmania without instigating abandonment. "They are likely responding to disturbance in relation to risk of harm to young."
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  • Disease may be one source of this myth...

Each spring, some children become infected with Salmonella after receiving a chick or other baby bird for Easter. It is important to remember that illness can occur from these baby birds or adult birds at any time of the year, and not just during the Easter season.
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  • Rabbits are not birds

Wild rabbits are the exception to this rule. "These animals seem to be the most sensitive to human and other smells. They're a flighty, high-stress species,"

If you suspect that a rabbit's nest has been abandoned, the Humane Society recommends making an "X" out of yarn or string over the nest and checking approximately 10 hours later to see if it has been moved. If the X has been pushed aside but the nest is still covered, that's a good indication that the mother has returned, nursed her young, and then re-covered them. If the X stays in place for 12 hours after the traumatic event, it's likely that the young rabbits have been deserted.
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The Bottom Line.

  • If you find a baby bird put it back in its nest. If it is in danger: Get it out of danger and place it in a tree or shrub.
  • Do not mess with bird nests (or wild rabbits in general).
  • Wash your hands.