can you touch a birds nest

You have likely heard that if you touch a nest, the bird will abandon it. There are a lot of ideas about how animals deal with human interaction with their young. Some of these tales are complete myths that can easily be debunked. This topic, however, is a little more complicated. Our Skedaddle wildlife removal team in Durham wants to help answer a few common questions about birds and their nests.

What Happens If You Touch a Nest?

The short answer is that, if touching a nest is all you are doing, it is not an issue. You haven’t caused any harm if, for example, you discover a nest while clearing out the eaves of your house. If the adults notice that a human has been in the same area, they won’t just leave their young behind.

Having said that, if at all possible, stay away from touching a nest. While baby birds are adorable, it is cruel and possibly dangerous for both you and the animals to disturb their homes. The adult may feel threatened and attack you. Furthermore, the nest materials and the droppings of the young may serve as breeding grounds for bacteria and parasites that could infect you. If you are concerned about a nest, get professional help.

What If You Move It?

This is where the story gets a little more complex. The adults won’t leave a nest just because someone has touched it, but they also won’t likely move. The adult bird might relocate if the nest is moved. This is more likely to happen if the bird is unable to locate the nest once more.

Nests in the wild are constantly being disturbed and attacked by predators. So, even if you move the nest, it’s unlikely that the birds will move to its new location. Leave the nest alone and get expert assistance if there are any young or eggs inside.

Naturally, we are aware that occasionally a nest may be in an unacceptably uncomfortable location. For instance, we frequently respond to calls about nests in stovetop or dryer vent pipes that put homeowners’ health and safety at risk. We move the nest immediately outside the pipe, next to its entrance, to address these problems. We made sure the mother could locate the nest with ease by taking this action.

In other words, birds, like economists, make cost-benefit decisions. When a potential predator finds babies, a bird that has spent a lot of time and energy hatching and raising them is more likely to move its offspring to a new nesting site, if at all possible, than to completely abandon them. Long-lived birds, such as hawks, are less risk-taking and more sensitive to disturbances than short-lived species, such as robins and other songbirds. The latter is far less likely to desert its young than the former, which may do so.

However, there’s a valid reason to avoid messing around in an occupied nest. According to biologist Thomas E., “the truth is, birds don’t abandon their young in response to touch, [but] they will abandon [their offspring and their nest] in response to disturbance.” Martin of the University of Montana and the U. S. Geological Survey, which has managed avian populations from Venezuela to Tasmania without causing desertion “They are probably reacting to a disturbance regarding the possibility of harm to minors.” “.

A nest is perched in the low crook of a crab apple tree, a common summer scene. Inside, a baby oriole stretches its wings, attempting to trill. A little girls face looms overhead. She extends her enormous finger to caress the feathers that are still damp. Her father’s voice booms just before contact, “Don’t touch that bird!”

The Humane Society advises covering a suspected abandoned rabbit nest with a “X” made of yarn or string and checking about ten hours later to see if the nest has been moved. A good sign that the mother has returned, nursed her young, and then covered them again is if the X has been pushed aside but the nest is still covered. It’s likely that the young rabbits have been abandoned if the X remains in its original location for 12 hours following the traumatic event.

The notion that birds can detect human scent is the source of the myth. In actuality, birds’ sense of smell is limited by their comparatively small and simple olfactory nerves. Extremely few birds possess exceptional olfaction, and those that do are specialized in their adaptations. As an illustration, turkey vultures are drawn to the gas methyl mercaptan, which is created when organic matter decomposes and is added to natural gas to give it an unpleasant odor, while starlings are able to identify insecticidal substances in plants, which they use to exclude insects from their nests. However, no bird’s sense of smell is triggered by human odor.


What happens if you disturb a bird nest?

Even visitation to these rookeries by people getting too close and subsequently disrupting nesting activities, can result in take since young birds may be frightened, leave their nests prematurely, become displaced, and die from starvation as their parents return only to the vicinity of the nest site.

Are bird nests safe to touch?

The short answer is that it isn’t a problem to touch a nest if that is all you are doing. If you are cleaning out the eaves of your home, for example, and happen across a nest, you haven’t done any harm. The adults won’t simply abandon their young just because they can detect that a human has been in the same area.

Will birds abandon a nest if you touch it?

Birds don’t leave their nests or young behind for no reason. Something big has to disturb them in order for them to leave everything behind, like a predator finding its way into the nest or a human moving it around. Simply touching the offspring isn’t reason enough for them to abandon it.

Will a mother bird come back if you touch her eggs?

Yet no bird’s sense of smell is cued to human scent. 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.