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If you touch a baby bird will its mother reject it?

The Claim- "If you touch a baby bird will its mother will reject it." Most of us have heard the expression before as a warning to leave that little baby bird be or its parents will smell our scent and no longer feed or care for it, leaving to it slowly die alone from starvation. (Or possibly the neighbor's cat.)
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The Verdict- False/Misleading.  Most common bird species have a very small and simple olfactory system, meaning they can't smell things very well, with some exceptions like the turkey vulture, Kiwi, and Albatross. Also, like many other animals, they have a sort of "motherly" drive to them, and despite being rather skittish, they are not all that quick to abandon their offspring just because it smells like someone's sweaty palms. They may however abandon their nest if it's been disturbed or they feel threatened, so keep that in mind and try not to mess with their home.

So what should you do? Well that's up to you and the bird in question. Ideally, you should call your local wildlife rehabilitation center if there's one available, but that's not always an option. If the bird a fledgling, (meaning it has its feathers) then it's a pretty common site to see them hanging around close to their nest until they learn to fly and it would be best to leave them alone to do their thing. If it's still fuzzy looking and doesn't have all it's feathers then it's probably a nestling, and it would be ok to pick it up and plop it back into its nest if you can reach it and as long as it's safe to do so. Keep in mind the parents probably won't be keen to understand you're just trying to help either way.

Sources/ More Reading
Mental Floss- If you touch a baby bird will it's mom abandon it?
Scientific American- Do birds abandon their young at the slightest touch
Live Science- Do birds abandon their chicks if humans touch them?
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