Newly hatched baby birds are pretty helpless. Most are born with eyes closed and no feathers. As they quickly grow they are able to move around the nest a little more. If you’ve ever watched a nest with babies you may have wondered, can a mama bird put her baby back in the nest? Are babies able to make it back in the nest if they fall out? In this article we will look at answers to these questions and what you can do if you observe a baby out of the nest.
If you’ve ever found a baby bird outside of the nest, you may be wondering if the mama bird is able to put her baby back in the nest if it escapes. Typically no, most adult birds are not able to pick up their baby to put it back in the nest.
Many mammals are born with a “scruff”, which is a loose area of non-sensitive skin found at the nape of the neck. Adults are able to pick up their young by the scruff using their mouth/teeth. Not only does this not hurt, but they instinctively become docile and immobile, allowing the parent to more easily transport the baby. You have probably seen cats do this with their kittens.
Bird are not born with a scruff. Between their somewhat sharp beak and feet with claws, there isn’t a very safe way for them to get a grip on their babies. But even if they could, most birds simply do not have the necessary muscular strength to lift the baby’s weight.
For birds that nest on the ground, this isn’t a problem. If a baby wanders away from the nest it is probably enough enough to do so, and the parent can try and corral it back to the nest site. But for small birds that nest higher up in trees, there isn’t anything they can do to move their babies around.
Mother birds work very hard to take care of their nestlings as they spend weeks preparing their babies to leave the nest. Nestlings are the stage in which a baby bird cannot take care of itself in any way and cannot move around much. In a week or two, baby birds become fledglings and are able to be more independent.
Only birds with strong beaks or talons can pick up their babies. Some of these birds include hawks, falcons, and storks. However, these birds typically only use their strength to pick up a baby bird to remove it from the nest. Sometimes baby birds become ill and can die in the nest, which poses a risk to the other babies. In this case, larger birds use the strength of their talons or beak to remove the dead baby bird to keep the other babies healthy.