Myth 1 If a bird falls from its nest, don’t touch it because the mother will not return.
This myth was created to keep children from touching baby birds, which, in theory was helpful because touching wildlife can increase the chance of catching a zoonotic disease; however, it is false. Birds do not have a keen sense of smell and therefore will return to nesting regardless of whether a human has touched their babies. If a bird is returned to its nest and you don’t see the parents returning for it, it is likely because they can see you watching the nest and don’t want to risk bringing attention to their young or themselves.
Myth 2 Mother’s will abandon their babies anytime they feel threatened, especially if they smell humans!
Although many animals do have a keen sense of smell, it is a myth that they automatically abandon their young at the sign (or smell) of predators. Parents will leave their babies unattended for hours at a time and will often not return immediately if they feel their return will disclose the hiding spot of their young. If you are watching an animal intensely waiting for their parents to return, they are more than likely watching you, waiting for you to leave. It is best to leave the scene and return a few hours later to see if the animal is still “abandoned”. 9 times out of 10, mom has already taken her baby to a new hiding spot upon your return.
Myth 3 A human can raise wildlife just as well as it can be raised in nature.
Unfortunately, this is a very untrue statement. As humans, we do our very best to mimic the needs of wildlife when animals are being raised outside of their natural environment; however, nothing can substitute the lessons that animals receive from their parents. Parents can communicate danger, show migration patterns, teach proper hunting and gathering techniques and much much more. It is always better for wildlife to stay with their parents whenever possible.
Myth 4 Wildlife young are not safe in urban areas.
As humans encroach more and more into wildlife areas, animals, and their young, work to adapt accordingly. Parents will often teach their young the ways of urban life and they learn the lessons of watching for urban predators (dogs, cats, cars etc.). If a young animal is not able to be shown how to adapt to their urban environments, their survival rate will decrease.
It is in our nature to want to help wildlife and it is important that we do so the right way to ensure that animals receive the best care and remain protected as wild species. As per the rules and regulations of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, it is illegal for an individual without specific permits to keep and raise a wild animal. If you find an injured or abandoned animal, please call a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center or CA department of Fish and Wildlife to ensure it is helped. See the link below for more information on CA wildlife rules and regulations. More may be found HERE.