Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I used to have many pigeons around the house. If by chance one of the chicks fell out of the nest, we used to put it back using gloves.

Usually, if we would touch the chicks with our bare hands, however, the other pigeons would usually kill the chick. I want to know why they do that?

share|improve this question
This is covered at Skeptics.SE: – JYelton Aug 11 '14 at 18:05
up vote 7 down vote accepted

This is a story I have been told as well when I was a kid. Usually this is related to the foreign smell that the humans leave on the chick. However, this seems to be an urban legend, as birds have not a great sense of smell.

Snopes says about this:

However, Mother birds will not reject their babies because they smell human scent on them, nor will they refuse to set on eggs that have been handled by a person. Many birds have a limited sense of smell and cannot detect human scent, or if they can detect it, do not react to it.

What can happen is that the birds returning to their nest which find the nest disturbed compared to the situation when they left might cause them to temporarily or permanently abondon their nest.

You can find this and more urban legends about birds here and here.

share|improve this answer
Thanks a lot!! But can you explain instead of giving links? – Devashish Das Jul 29 '14 at 16:34

protected by Chris Jun 17 '15 at 10:52

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.