Leave baby birds alone!

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Leave baby birds alone!

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mythbuster-leave baby birds alone

Tell everyone you know!

As spring arrives and with it, lots of new baby birds, it’s time to talk about some misconceptions.  Every year, compassionate and well-intentioned animal lovers sap much needed funds from wildlife rescue groups (like the local Wildlife Rescue Association, for example) by picking up what they believe are abandoned baby birds and “rescuing” them.  Like the picture says, it is not true that touching a fledgling bird will result in her parents abandoning her.  In fact, most birds have almost no sense of smell at all.  If you find a baby bird on the ground and she is clearly too young to be out of the nest, put her back.  Do not take her to a rehabilitation centre, and absolutely do not attempt to raise her yourself.

How will you know if the bird is too young to be out of the nest?

Many young birds naturally come to the ground when they grow a little too large for the nest. This is called “fledging”. Depending on the species of bird, this period can last for up to two weeks. The young birds learn to forage for food and exercise their muscles for flight. While it can be dangerous, they also learn important skills such as predator recognition. If the bird has most of its feathers, is otherwise active and alert, and is moving around well on its feet, it is most likely a fledgling bird and should be left where it is. You can always gently “shoo” the bird to a bit of cover to help keep it safe from predators. (source)

Speaking of predators, this is also a great time to ensure that your cats are kept indoors, if indeed they aren’t already kept inside all year round.  Despite the fact that we love them, domestic cats kill hundreds of millions of birds annually and are in fact one of the biggest threats to their survival. (Cats are Birds’ No. 1 Enemy, New York Times)  Bells do little to nothing to help, as cats are incredibly talented hunters and generally learn to adjust to them; moreover, the tinkling of a bell is a useless warning to a baby bird who cannot yet fly.  (Need another reason to keep your cat indoors?  Evidence shows that he’ll live longer!)

Finally, it’s worth noting that a lack of a sense of smell does not mean that birds are indifferent to the presence of humans.  If you do find a nest, leave it alone!  While your scent certainly won’t be an issue, continued interference can be.  Some birds will abandon their nests if they feel threatened.  How will you know if a nest is really abandoned?  Learn here.

Happy (almost) Spring!

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