For the Birds: Baby birds: Sometimes the best way to help is to do nothing

Photo by Chris Bosak Young Barn Swallows beg for food as a parent returns to the nest with a morsel in this June 2012 file photo.
Photo by Chris Bosak, Young Barn Swallows beg for food as a parent returns to the nest with a morsel.

Here’s a follow-up to a recent column I did about helping birds in the summer. It seems that I missed a few important tips.

I received a text message from a friend last week after she found two baby birds on her deck. They had recently fallen out of a birdhouse she has hanging near the house. What to do with the babies? It’s a question I get fairly often in late spring and early summer.

If you come across baby birds that have fallen out of the nest, the best thing to do is put them back in the nest. That is assuming you know where the nest is, of course. In my friend’s case, she did know and she placed the baby birds back into the house. The mother returned shortly thereafter and all seems to be good.

That advice may surprise some people because the old adage was that you should never touch a baby bird because the mother will reject any baby that has been touched by a human. Birds do not have a great sense of smell (well, most birds anyway) so they will not abandon a baby that was touched. Besides, a mother or father bird has no way of getting the baby back into the next.

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