Why Would a Mother Bird Kill Her Babies & Kick Them Out of the Nest?

It is a sad discovery to find that a baby bird has fallen out of its nest and has died. Many people believe that the mother bird is responsible for this act. Ornithologists offer different realities to this scenario. With their information on bird behavior it is possible to see that the mother bird has no intent to harm her babies.

  1. The Myth

    • It is a myth that mother birds will kill their young and kick them out of the nest. Animal behavior experts at Texas' Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center note that the nurturing instinct in birds is very strong. According to the Massachusetts Audubon Society, only 30 percent of birds make it through their first year of life. This makes it a hard journey, especially for new arrivals. Yet, little evidence supports the idea that a mother bird will purposely kill.

    Touching and Leaving Human Scent

    • It is often said that if a human comes across a nest and disturbs it, their smell will remain and the mother bird will abandon the baby birds. Birds have a very limited sense of smell and will not be able to smell you. The likely reason that birds may be found dead in an abandoned nest is because you are physically close to the nest so often that the mother is afraid and unable to get past you to return. A predator such as a cat or hawk may also have taken the baby birds out of the nest and killed them.

    Common Reasons

    • A baby bird can fall from the nest and die under many circumstances. A wind gust may blow a chick out. When several babies live in one nest, one may be pushed out with simple movement. One bird may be ill, not eat enough and may die. Finally, at some point in their development the mother will assume that they need to fly and push them out for flying lessons, but this is done with no intent to harm.

    Re-nesting a Baby Bird

    • If you find a baby bird, you may approach it, and if you know where the nest is, you can replace it. Consider first if the bird should be back in the nest. Even if small, if it has defined wings it may be fine on the ground as it will likely learn to fly away very soon. If the baby is furry, try to get it back in the nest. The mother and siblings will receive it. A cold bird may not be accepted so before re-nesting warm the bird in a blanket and then place it back.

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