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Myth debunked: Do birds smell our human scent on their offspring and abandon them?

Have you ever seen a baby bird wandering around on its own and been tempted to go save it, but then held back because touching the chick might make their mums abandon them? Myth states that mama bird has the ability to smell your human scent and might be more willing to abandon her offspring and leave them out in the wilderness on their own. 

Reality in fact is not so grim, as birds do not really have a very strong sense of smell, so the bird’s parents will not smell your scent and send them into some form of frenzy. The nerve cells associated with smelling in birds are relatively small and simple, although there are certain species of birds with specialised adaptations.

Biologists confirm that birds are devoted to their young and are not so easily deterred from caring for them. While birds do not abandon their young because their offspring were touched, they might abandon them if they sense disturbance. Though it might seem like some birds are lost and alone, their parents are usually somewhere within the vicinity. It is quite common that baby birds leave their nest before learning how to fly, and their parents are still keeping close watch on their offspring. If left alone, the bird’s parents will go back to take care and feed their chicks.

Even though the bird’s parents are not deterred by human scent, you are increasing the chances of other predators seizing the baby birds. While young birds should be left undisturbed as much as possible, if one happens to see a baby bird surrounded by cats, then by all means go ahead and save that baby bird! Their parents will welcome them back with open wings!

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