Q. If you touch a baby bird, will the parents detect your scent and abandon it?
A. No, most birds do not have a very well-developed sense of smell. However, most mammalian predators (skunks, foxes, raccoons, weasels, etc.) do have a good sense of smell and may follow your scent trail to a bird's nest.
If you are going to handle a baby bird be sure to place it out of harm's way, back in the nest, or in an open-topped cardboard box propped in a tree.
However, many bird species are equipped to survive outside the nest at a very young age. These species include many shorebirds, gamebirds, and birds such as robins and wrens.
Reprinted from the Summer 2006 edition of WBU BIRDTracks®. Tufted Titmouse image by Nancy Castillo