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Why does mother bird abandon their babies?

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There are a lot of comments out there concerning the nasty habit of mother birds abandoning their babies. Others of those legends are myths, and some a reality- will, and why would a mother bird desert their babies?

It’s not much of a habit as much as wrong conditions and blunders. The most typical occurrence of mothers abandoning their babies is if a baby bird falls out of the nest into the ground. The parents would likely not feed it since they would regard it as a waste of energy and time.

There are various causes for abandoning, and the one that claims “if you touch a baby bird with your bare hands, your scent will make mother bird leave her babies” is entirely wrong. Birds don’t have a great sense of smell and don’t leave their young simply because they interact with people.

According to Frank B. Gill, past president of the American Ornithologists’ Union: “If a bird’s nest is disturbed by a possible predator during the nesting or egg-laying stage,” he explains, “there’s a risk that [it] would desert and re-nest.”

Anyway, after babies are born, this likelihood falls to 0.

Nature is inherently harsh, and there is no such called justice in it. Therefore, some bird parents are obliged to leave their babies owing to an inadequate supply of food.

Once they recognize that there will be not enough food for all of their babies, they just divert all of their energy and time to ensure that at least a few of them survive, rather than risking all of them starving to death.

Brood Parasitism

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bird about to feeding young bird (Image Credit: Getty Images)

Brood parasitism is a well-known phenomenon in the birds’ world. It’s mainly about birds depending on other creatures to nurture their own young. They soon leave their own babies by influencing the host to rear its young as though it were it’s own.

They typically utilize so-called brood mimicry. Brood mimicry is a similarity between two species. So, as you climb the tree to peep inside the nest, you shouldn’t be startled by the fact that there is one strange-looking egg lying down and behaving like it belongs there. Simply, it’s a disguise.

But it’s not simply the case with the comparable species. There are multiple occurrences of shining cowbirds being fed by a rufous-collared sparrow. And their eggs are pretty distinct.

Needless to say, this very much harms the host as it frequently leads to an evolutionary arms race between parasite and host as the pair of species coevolve.

So, discussing birds, various species are used to brood parasitism. Those are indigobirds, honeyguides, ducks, cowbirds, and cuckoos.

What’s the most interesting- these birds frequently do not even construct their own nests. Ironically right? How can they forsake their kids when they have no home to depart?

They entirely depend on brood parasitism.

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Mother Oriole feeding the baby Oriole on the tree (Image Credit: Getty Images)

One notable example of brood parasitism may be observed in cowbirds’ motherhood. They are masters at this job- studies suggest that more than two hundred species, including Yellow Warblers, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Red-eyed Vireos, are inadvertent surrogate parents for these youngsters.

Some animals eager to the cowbird’s scheme build over their eggs or kick them out of the nest, but most just don’t realize what’s happening until the cowbirds hatch. Surprise!

Why do mothers toss their baby birds away?

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Great tit (Parus major) family with chicks in nest (Image Credit: Getty Images)

There are various causes why mothers toss their babies away. Neither of them is justifiable, yet that is how it happens in nature’s world. So, essentially, this occurs not just in the birds’ world but across diverse animal species.

There are 2 primary causes for tossing baby birds away, abandoning them, or even murdering.

If the baby bird is harboring any virus, a mother would most likely throw it from the nest or kill it to safeguard the rest of it.

The second reason is more like China’s population policy- once the mother finds out that the number of babies is too large, she removes the weaker ones.

Also, if there is any baby in the brood with malformation, needless to say, it’s meant for eradication.

Now, there is a difference occasionally. It occurs that the babies be shoved out of the nest by their siblings, and it happens because the parents are attempting to feed more babies for whom they can readily locate food. If the food was easy to acquire, they’d be monitoring the nest more closely, and babies pushing would be replaced with resting. It could be nature’s method of reducing populations to sustainable levels.

Sometimes, it might happen that (due to wind) babies fall out of the nest. In such circumstances, mothers would usually attempt to transport it back to the nest.

Will a mother bird forsake her offspring if I touch it?

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Holding a Cute Baby Quail (Image Credit: Getty Images)

There is a prevalent notion or old wives’ story that the parents won’t take them back if humans touch a baby bird. The fact is that birds don’t utilize fragrance as a technique to discover food; they depend mainly on sight.

They don’t care what the baby smells like and possibly don’t even smell “human” on them. The sense of smell is the slightest developed sense for most birds. So if you put a baby bird back into its nest, the mother rejected won’t reject it. You are safer placing the baby back in the nest most of the time than any other course of action.

If a tiny baby falls out and you can’t reach the nest, then attach a plastic butter container or the like to the tree with some grass inside and put the baby in. Parents will continue to feed it.

Bad bird mothers

  • Cuckoos
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Cuckoos (Image Credit: Getty Images)

This is undoubtedly the most renowned (at least for birds) horrible bird mother out there. I recall the tale of cuckoos when I was a tiny lad. My parents constantly presented me with this as a negative example of parentship.

So, this wouldn’t be such a terrible narrative if it finishes with only laying eggs inside others’ nests. Nope, the issue with this one extends far more profound. The cuckoos hatch significantly early and develop incredibly rapidly. And then, as giant bullies, cuckoos frequently push lesser “brother” birds off of the nest.

  • Black Eagle
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Black Eagle (Image Credit: Getty Images)

Back eagles are incredibly vicious birds, particularly when it comes to ladies. They are not explicitly cruel to their babies, yet their acts may be seen as abandoning babies. Namely, black eagle females will frequently merely watch a struggle amongst their babies, even if it ends with a handful of fatalities.

And it is typically a case until the last one standing… or flight.

It’s just the rule of nature- the stronger one wins.

  • House sparrow
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House sparrow (Image Credit: Getty Images)

To be a house sparrow means living a bizarre existence. Basically, guys are casual males- they create some offspring and then depart with another female. Nothing unusual over here… but then, ladies are envious. And as you know, envy leads to some killing… I mean, literary. Females are eager to seek out nests of other females that mate with their boyfriends and destroy the resultant offspring.

Why is that? Well, for the father to spend more time with the rest of his kids.

This one can hardly be dubbed the worst mother of a year. She abandons her nest just briefly- to eradicate the competitors. A father is the one performing the abandoning portion.

Mother birds are not the only ones that give away babies.

It’s not just birds. Numerous animals also resort to this type of action. And occasionally, the mother even consumes its own young. Here are some instances below.

  • Hamsters

If excessively agitated or overburdened, hamsters could consume their own babies.

  • Polar Bears

Since the degradation of Global warming, Polar bears have been observed eating their own bearings.

  • Spiders

Some spiders are renowned for cannibalistic behavior. On the contrary, Wolf Spiders truly sacrifice their life for their babies. The babies consume them so they may have their “hunting spirit” activated.

Also Read: Cabezon fish | Special facts.
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