The old myth that you can't touch birds is wrong, but you also need to know when to leave it alone and when to put it back in the nest. If you have predators (neighborhood cats, hawks, etc.) you will want to get it back in the nest ASAP.
Touching Baby Birds Is Okay
by Donna L. Watkins
|© Donna L. Watkins - Great-crested Flycatcher|
Although usually true for mammals because they have such a strong sense of smell, most birds have a poor sense of smell and will even accept "foster babies" in their nests.
Take the cowbird for example. This bird lays its eggs in other birds' nests and lets them raise its young. Sadly, because it lays its eggs in birds that are smaller than the cowbird, the bird's own nestlings sometimes die for lack of food while trying to keep up with the bigger appetite of the cowbird.
I've put baby birds back in the nest after they've fallen out and the parents continue to feed them. It's always best to place the baby back where the parents can feed it. Even if you have to construct a different kind of nest for them. They will resume feeding so the birds can fledge. It's not easy trying to foster a baby bird and unless you've got a wildlife rehabilitator nearby, there's much chance for success since they need to eat every 20 minutes.
For reference sake, here's a few links on more information on this topic:
What To Do If You Find a Baby Bird
Baby Birds On The Ground - Are They In Need of Rescuing?
Top Five Myths About Rescuing Baby Birds
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