A long and pleasant autumn walk yesterday brought up the myth about the baby birds. You know the one I mean – “Don’t pick up the little bird because then its mother will abandon it!”
Now I had heard this story my whole life and had not actually questioned it until now. Such is the power of the myth. But it occurred to me yesterday that this is an astoundingly stupid survival strategy.
Would this behaviour give any evolutionary advantage at all to a bird? I can’t think of one. And most things that do not bestow an evolutionary advantage will not be around any more. That’s why you don’t see birds hopping, swimming or driving Segways – they probably tried, at one stage, but it didn’t work and they were dispatched in a hurry by predators.
So a quick web search showed this to be the case. See here and here, and, oh, loads of other places. Birds do NOT abandon their young if a human picks them up. However, if you disturb the nest too much when returning the baby then the mother might abandon the whole nest. And the baby bird will probably just jump out again anyway, because they are dumb little beasties.
So my motto for life continues intact – don’t believe a damned anything just because a lot of people tell you that it’s true. Find evidence, find experts, and then sort through the evidence and base your opinion on reason and fact.
Simple, effective, and practically guaranteed to close down a whole lot of churches.