The belief that baby birds that are touched by human hands will be rejected by their parents is a myth.

Let me share an old story.

This baby sparrow had fallen from it’s nest, it was brought home to keep it safe from stray cats. It spent a night at our place.

The next morning the little chick kept cheeping for food and water, and rejecting whatever was offered 😦   What were we going to do with a baby sparrow we did not know how to feed?

We had also heard that once a baby bird was touched by human hands, its parents would not touch it.

A delightful surprise awaited us.
The baby bird hopped towards the windows and it looked like it wanted to go out.
Outside was the mother,

And the father 🙂

This very worried and very loving set of parents wanted to get inside!!
(These two pictures were taken later. At the time this was happening, I was too worried to get out the camera)
Although unsure of their reactions, I opened the window just a bit…

Watch what happened 😀

For us, a cruel and dangerous myth was broken that morning!

What if we had put the baby in a cage or taken the baby somewhere where the parents couldn’t hear it cheeping loud ? (That is how, I think, they found where the baby was).

Thursday Challenge – “FAMILY” (Grandparents, Parents, Children, Family Occasions, Moms with Babies, Animals,…)

Somebody else blogged about a similar experience with a bird chick, First birds photos in my early photography stage

More related Posts:

Photographs of Green Pigeon eggs from my balcony.
Ill-mannered visitors.
Purple Rumped Sunbird feeding baby bird.
Delightful pictures of green pigeon activity from my balcony.
Some of us don’t care.
This afternoon.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons



78 thoughts on “The belief that baby birds that are touched by human hands will be rejected by their parents is a myth.

  1. I prefer cats much more than than dogs–they’re cleaner, litter trained, smarter and you’ve got to work for their affection. I’ve had two cats now, one’s in Canada with my parents and one’s an Indian stray kitten that I adopted in Feb. If my fiance wouldn’t object, I’d want at least two more 🙂

    The people in this region [especially the less educated ones] are really superstitious–the plumbers, maintenance workers, and even airtel’s cable guys are terrified of my black cat.

    The baby sparrow story is adorably cute.


  2. Oh wow…
    such incidents make us feel lucky that we could see them this way.

    Their lives are already happy and content and full of all the emotional ties we think just humans are worthy of , it’s just that these incidents come to us as lessons and good omens 🙂

    Loved this story.


  3. This is so touching and true.
    Its good that you did get some pictures (even though not in the proper order)
    Watching and observing nature is so soothing and learning for us.
    Wonder why people don’t have the time for it.


  4. Lovely to know – have heard this myth several times.

    By the way, can I tell you I am very jealous of the visitors? Here I am sitting with a recycled wood nest box and a nice feeder and fresh feed and water and not ONE sparrow has deigned to visit! Not even one tiny bird!


    • I would LOVE to see the picture of the recycled wood box!! Are there trees around your house? And birds? If there are, they will come – maybe during the nesting season… ? Could it be that they have too many other (or better!) places to go to, like maybe many trees and convenient branches? Just wondering. I hope you get some visitors soon and we get bird story posts!!


  5. I wonder how that myth came about. Most myths, and traditions begin in a logical way, and as they go down generations they mutate to take totally unrecognisable forms- much like chinese whispers. The practice does have a relevance at the time it begins, but as things change, some become redundant.

    I have heard that one, too, in my childhood. A similar thing had happened when I was around 10, and I remember how we were trying to feed the baby bird without touching it. Tried to pick it up with a napkin. I don’t remember what happened of it now.

    Lovely pictures, IHM. How did you manage to capture ones that suited what happened so well, if you did that later? Amazing!


    • The parents stayed on the window sill long after they met the baby bird. It took them a long time to convince the little one to fly with to a tree below our building, during this time and for many days that followed, they continued to accept boiled rice and water that we kept for them. So there was all the time to take pictures 🙂 Only the baby on the calculator picture was taken while we were wondering how we were going to get used to having a baby sparrow living in the house along with two dogs and cat.
      When the birds came to the window first, there was no time to think, it was too much of a shock, there was so much struggle from both sides of the glass panes to be together, it was heart breaking.


  6. The story about sparrows killing their little one’s who come into human contact is not a myth. I’ve seen it happen. All the sparrows in the area pound on it and poke it to death. You should be thankful that they didn’t kill it. Next time if you find a fallen chick, try to touch it as little as you can. If they find human fragrance on it, that chick is dead.

    As a kid, these sparrows used to exist in hundred thousands. I still remember their cheeping sounds in the quiet afternoons. They used to settle on this particular tree in the night and the ground would be covered in poo. Today, that tree no longer exists. The stray cats will finish whatever that is left. If i was in the municipality, I’d order an execution pogrom of all stray cats. That’s how much i hate them.


    • You hate cats because they kill birds? Do you know who kills birds in much larger numbers?

      Do you think anybody who kills birds/animals should be hated? Do you hate lions tigers for killing deer and other smaller animals? Once again, what about those who kill (directly and indirectly) all animals to the point that many species have disappeared?


  7. How true is this ! Do our parents leave us just because we are “touched” by few bad things around us?

    IHM – keep doing such posts more and lighting up the day for many more people 🙂


  8. This is so sweet. It scares me when any child is separated from it’s parents (illogical, I know).
    The myth was probably created to stop kids from catching little birds and keeping them as pets.


    • Yeah, I guess that’s how it started, but I do I feel it is better to be honest and clear to kids (or anybody) – most children do understand that animals feel pain, loneliness, joy etc just like humans do. I know of children who have given up fire crackers because the noise hurts birds and animals, specially dogs.


  9. Glad to be back in blogosphere,
    Had kept away for nearly two months due to health reasons and other domestic compulsions.

    Loved reading this post.

    Sparrows seem to have deserted Bangalore en masse.
    I haven’t seen any for years now.

    Let me now catch up with your older blg posts.


  10. I’m so glad it turned out so well… I think it must depend on the breed of bird, because unfortunately when I was a kid, we found a nest of baby birds and brought them home. Mom made us take them back… and we hid in the bushes and watched… and the mother bird came and killed them all! It was awful. So while I’m very glad this worked out, I would recommend to everyone that if you can avoid it, don’t touch baby birds because I think this must be a true “myth” for at least some species of birds.


    • If it is not possible to help fallen baby birds without taking them to a safer place, I feel then it’s better to help them, then to just leave them, because they might get eaten or killed anyway. At least one would know one tried.
      It’s also possible that the ones who killed them were not their own parents.


  11. Such a heartwarming story!

    I’m not sure whether this is true or not but my husband (who’s a big-time nature fan) did tell me once that birds sometimes reject eggs (not live chicks!) that seem to have been disturbed from their original positions, because they think that some kind of a predator, like a cat, might have done it. Most non-mammals don’t have a very sharp sense of smell anyway, so I don’t think the odor plays a significant role for most types of birds.

    I’d probably steer clear of deliberately touching any young birds unless I had to, not least because I’d be afraid of unwittingly hurting them!


    • Safiya, I understand but also many times baby birds are not picked up or helped because of such myths. Or they are taken away from where the parents could find them (we almost did that because we never thought the parents would accept the baby!)


  12. It was a delightful tale.. I had a cute sparrow-nest on my restroom’s window…
    I called it “Attiya”… Still cherish feeding it

    Thanks for sharing dear…

    Indie 🙂


  13. I love this photo-story. Even I have heard that baby birds once touched by human hands will not be accepted by the parents.
    I once brought a baby sparrow that we found in school. But our cat killed it at the first opportunity it got. I was only 11, was heartbroken and very angry with the cat so much like Anil above. 🙂 Of course it was my cat and I loved it too 😛 But I did not let the cat touch the dead bird and gave it a proper burial (even placed stones on the spot so the cat wouldn’t dig it up). My mother thought I was being silly not letting the cat eat the bird since it was dead anyways. Parents! How cruel they are at times!


  14. I was not home for sometime and lo, I missed this beautiful post of yours, IHM! The picture story is beautiful. I loved the last picture, the best!

    Yes, it is a myth that once a baby bird is touched by human, the parents discard it. Our cat, Goalie has brought many baby birds, like pigeons, brown sparrows, mouse (!), squirrels and play with them. I and my husband catch hold of Goalie and then throw a small towel on the bird and carry it outside and leave. Because of the myth, I never touched them! Catching a slightly big pigeon was difficult, but I did it!

    I enjoyed reading this story, IHM, thank you!


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