How to Tell if a Mother Bird Has Abandoned Her Nest in 3 Steps


Written by

Clinton Atkins



George Dukes

how to tell if a mother bird has abandoned her nest

How to tell if a mother bird has abandoned her nest? There are multiple ways to do so. Whether you want to get rid of the nest from your property, or you want to save the chicks, you need to know if the parent will come for the baby birds or not.

The simplest indication of an abandoned nest is the weak status of the chicks. There would also be an accumulation of leaves or debris on the nest.


Guide On How To Determine If The Nest Is Abandoned

The sight of an abandoned nest with either eggs or chicks is unfortunately not a surprise. This usually happens during the breeding season. As a dedicated bird enthusiast, it’s quite natural to want to help. And to achieve your goal, you need these:

  • Gloves
  • Temperature-measuring tool
  • Moistened food
  • Wildlife rehabilitator number

Ways to Know if a Mother Bird Has Abandoned Her Nest


Abandoned bird nest eggs are sadly a common sight. But how can you be sure that the mother bird completely left her nest?

In this post, we will explore the methods for determining if the chicks are abandoned by their parents. The confirmation is required before you can take action to rescue the young avians or relocate the nest.

Step #1: Check eggs for warmth 

To check if a mother bird has abandoned her eggs, put on a pair of gloves and touch the eggs.

If you can feel warmth from them, then they’re still in the process of incubation. But if they’re cold, then that’s a sign of abandonment. To be exact, use a temperature-measuring device.

Eggs that are sure to hatch must always have a temperature of 35-40.5 degrees Celsius.

Step #2: Look for signs of injury

Whether the nest contains eggs or baby birds, look for signs of injury. The parent bird could have left due to an onslaught of predators.

If you can see cracked eggs or injured baby birds, then they were probably harmed by other animals. And their mother abandoned her young to save herself.

But if there are no obvious signs of injury, then the parent could be searching for food and will be back soon.

Step #3: Absentee mother for hours 

Eggs or chicks require constant care for at least every four hours from the female parent. So the best thing to do is wait and see if the mother comes back.

If there is no sign of an adult bird returning to incubate the eggs or feed the chicks, then that’s a clear sign of nest abandonment.

Why Does The Mother Bird Leave Her Nest?

If you see one nest with eggs without a parent and the mother bird has abandoned her hatchlings, it makes you wonder why the mother left.

There are various reasons for this incident, and understanding them helps you make the next move. The most important thing to remember is, even if there is no parent around, it does not automatically mean abandonment.

  • Dead baby birds – A mother bird will abandon baby birds if they’re no longer alive. And if it’s still the breeding season, they’re likely to start a new family.
  • Searching for food – Most of the time, when the baby birds are left alone in the nest, it means that their parents are searching for food. They’ll be back to feed their baby birds soon.
  • Disturbed nest – If the nest has been disturbed by humans, the mother bird usually leaves her offspring. The humans are then responsible for taking care of the eggs or chicks.
  • Self-preservation – If food is scarce, the mother avian will feed herself to survive rather than waste time on her young. She needs to have energy to start a new brood.
  • Infestation – Mother birds abandon their nests if there is an infestation of pests and insects. This includes mites, fire ants, and ticks.
  • End of breeding season – After the breeding season, parent birds and juveniles leave their nests. They venture off and abandon their small home until the next breeding period. Some bird species reuse their nests, and many build new ones.

Will a Mother Bird Abandon Her Baby if I Touch It?

Are you wondering, if you touch a baby bird will the mother reject it? The sad fact is yes, the eggs or chicks will be abandoned by their parents if humans have laid hands on them.

This happens if you handle the baby birds while the mother is away, and when she comes back, she sees you touching her babies.

That’s why it’s important to keep your distance. If you’re not sure yet if the eggs or baby birds are truly abandoned, then leave the nest alone. Only act if you’re absolutely certain that the mother is not coming back.

But of course, if you approach a nest with the mother caring for the eggs or hatchlings, then she will warn you off. After all, parent birds are territorial in nature and are known to defend their families.

What to Do With an Abandoned Nest?


Unfortunately, birds abandon their nests with eggs for many reasons. And if you found one, then it’s normal to feel bad for the nest occupants. However, there are things that you can do to make the situation better.

You just need to take note that bringing a nest filled with eggs or chicks home is illegal. Only licensed pet bird owners are allowed to care for birds at home. But in your own way, you can make a huge difference to the survival of abandoned eggs or baby birds.

1. Leave them alone

If you found baby birds in nest no mom, then leave the nest where it is. Give the avians a chance to be found by their mother.

Keep in mind that when a nest is disturbed by people, the adult birds are not likely to come back. 

2. Feed the baby birds 

Seeing hungry baby birds melts your heart, that’s for sure. It’s normal to feel protective of them, but if you feed the chicks, use soft foods only. Scavenge your kitchen for pet foods and biscuits and soak them in water prior to feeding.

3. Set them free 

Baby birds usually reach the juvenile phase after two weeks of existence. So if you ended up taking care of the abandoned young avians, wait for their feathers to completely develop and set them free.

Bring the young birds to a park, forest, or area with trees, and watch them fly away.

4. Contact a professional 

The good news is, if you’re sure that the nest is abandoned, you can always seek assistance from a local wildlife rehabilitator. Leave the handling of the baby birds abandoned in nest to the professionals, since they have the expertise and resources to save the abandoned eggs or young avians.


How to tell if a mother bird has abandoned her nest? Check for signs of warmth, injury, and absence of parents. The eggs or chicks are left alone in the nest for many reasons, but not always indefinitely. Many times, parents leave to find food and will come back.

If you find an abandoned nest, the best thing to do is contact a local wildlife rehabilitator. But of course, you can still do your part in feeding the chicks.

Kindly share this post so others may know what you’ve learned. And leave us a message for further questions and suggestions.

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