Like humans, avian species leave their parent’s nest to face the big world on their own. Adult birds teach and train young ones to fly and become independent to survive in the competitive world.
Whenever we come across a helpless-looking offspring or nestling stumbling or hopping out of their nest, it’s hard to overpower the urge to rescue them. A myth is following that birds never accept any offspring touched by the humans into their nest.
Why do mother birds push babies out of the nest?
Mother birds forcibly push hatchlings or nestlings out of the nest to train them to take flights and flap their wings. To avoid predators and protect their territory from danger, mother birds kick injured offspring out of the nest without delay.
Training offspring to take flights
In the training process, offspring will land on the ground, but parents will always have an eye on them from a farther distance.
In humans, parents would help their babies stand and support baby attempts and trials to walk independently. The motivation and idea of reinforcement of parent birds to make birds fly are similar to the humans.
Food is the primary source of motivation for baby birds, and they know that their mother will come in a regular interval to drop some food off their mouth. Parents slowly move farther away from the nest and force offspring to go out of the nest to get daily food.
The nestling will realize the importance of the food and motivates them to come out of the branch. They would fall on the ground in the first few chances, but the repetitive attempts become habitual to them.
Eventually, young birds learn to spread and flap their wings when it falls. With practice, they develop their muscles and strength to flap their wings with full potential.
To avoid potential predators.
A weak or fatal bird might destroy their territory by attracting potential danger. To safeguard other offsprings and habitats from predators, mother birds will abandon or kill weak, injured, or ill birds from the nest.
Parents abandoning their own nest
A constant predator threat, insect infestations, inclement weather, or a broken egg are all the reasons behind the adult birds abandoning their own nest.
If you move them to your convenience in the backyard or garden, birds cannot recognize their own nest and may not return to the waiting offspring or egg. Birds recognize their nest from “nest-site fidelity” and do not interfere in their way of living.
Why do mother birds abandon their babies if humans touch them?
There is a myth and old wives tale that if you touch a nestling or hatchlings, you will leave your scent, and the mother bird will abandon them by smelling it. This is a myth and is not valid, and you can assist and offer help to fallen young birds if they are not fledgling.
Parent birds do not recognize and feed their offspring by smell. If you find a sparsely feathered bird not capable of walking, flitting, hopping, or gripping tightly on your finger, then you can return them to its nest and make sure the birds did not leave on their own.
Baby birds that are not fully-fledged are vulnerable and have potential predators such as dogs, cats, and predatory birds. Before offering your help, observe your surroundings to figure out that the baby fell out of the nest. Most mothers have an eye on the offspring and the nest, and it’s better to put them into the nest as quickly as possible.
If the fallen birds have fully grown wing feathers and can walk, hopping, or flitting, and strong toes to grip twigs or your finger, they are fledgling. Fledglings look adorable and fluffy with a tiny tail, and mothers will watch out for them.
Parents and siblings of the fledgling birds will scatter in different directions, and it’s better not to disturb their flying.
Do mother birds kill baby birds?
A mother bird will kill or deliberately kick a nestling from a nest when it becomes a risk or threat to their siblings and the rest of the nest’s survival.
Some first-time parent birds will kill their offspring because they don’t know how to do parenting or feed them. This scenario will happen with domestic birds raised away from their parents or the ones that were hand-fed by their owners.
The new changes in the nest make parents anxious, panic, and they instantly start to peck their offspring or push them from the nest due to over-stress.
If one baby bird gets an infection or illness, a mother will kill the baby or eat for nourishment or kick them out from the nest to prevent the disease from spreading to other babies.
Why do mother birds kill or throw away their eggs?
There are two reasons the mother bird might break or eat their eggs :
- Calcium deficiency
When the bird lives in a stressful environment like an overcrowded cage or constant predator threat, the adult bird kills some eggs to provide a better survival environment to other eggs.
Birds can reabsorb different components back to their body or stop forming an egg during the laying process. If there is a larger-than-normal gap in the egg-laying cycle, then it is due to environmental stress.
In general, nutrition deficient birds lay soft-shelled eggs or egg-bound (unable to push out the egg), which is often fatal. The egg is the primary source of calcium, proteins and is rich in calories. If birds are hungry or lack nutrients, they eat their egg to nourish themselves.
Most of the birds eat the infertile eggs or already dead offsprings inside the shell. When they feel their calcium levels dropping, they reach for their eggs themselves as the eggs are rich in calcium and other growth necessary nutrients.
There are quite a few reasons why the mother birds push or even kills their babies from their nest. Yet, they aren’t done on a selfish purpose but for the greater need. It is always important to observe why the behavior of the birds is different.