Crazy Myths About Birds

Myths about birds have been around for a long time. What used to be thought of as the "Gospel Truth" is now being realized as merely a myth. And let’s face it, there has been some real classics and occasionally some that are just plain outrageous. How did they start? Was it because of television, books or the Internet? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, but what is true is many of these bird myths have gotten around and become truth instead of fiction to many people around the world. There are many of them but here are a few of the myths we see most often. 

Bald Eagle

MYTH #1: Birds Sing Because They’re Happy

Males sing as a form of aggression to warn competing males to stay away and also to signal their personal qualities to attract females to mate with them. Females tend to prefer males who sing more often or have more complex songs.

MYTH #2: Birds Pair For Life

Divorce is actually a regular part of life for almost all birds; most live with one partner for only a few months or years, depending on the species. Annual divorce rates range from 99 percent with the greater flamingo to 0 percent in the wandering albatross.

Two small birds standing on a boulder

MYTH #3: Mom Will Abandon Her Baby If You Touch It

First of all a mother is a mother and that is her baby. Second, with a few exceptions, birds have a lousy sense of smell so this probably doesn’t even enter into the picture. So if the baby is featherless and obviously too young to even move around much, put the baby back into the nest. If it has feathers and appears to be a small but fully feathered bird, leave it alone. It is a fledgling and needs to learn to fly. The watchful parents are nearby and being on the ground for a day or two is part of the process of learning to reach the sky. 

Fledgling in a human hand

MYTH #4: Swallows Survive Winter By Burrowing In The Mud 

Not sure how this myth got started, but the real truth is.… Purple martins and barn swallows fly about 10,000 miles round trip to Brazil to escape the northern winters. 

MYTH #5: Feeding Hummingbirds In The Fall Stops Them From Migrating 

Actually many birds enjoy having plentiful food in the early fall, especially those that feed on flowers and fruit, but that doesn’t stop them from leaving when it’s time for migration. And they know when it’s time to go!

Hummingbird at a feeder

MYTH #6: Birds Are Monogamous 

Most songbirds in North America are not monogamous; DNA paternity testing shows that in many bird species, 40 percent of the young are the result of extra-martial matings.

MYTH #7: Birds Are Stupid 

We’ve all heard the term “Bird Brains” which implies they’re dumber than mammals, but don’t let this fool you. Birds can recognize relatives they haven’t seen in years, tell a neighbor from a stranger just by its voice, remember the location of food they hid away months earlier, and even use things as tools.

MYTH #8: Two Parents Are Needed To Raise The Young

In many birds like hummingbirds and woodcock, the female raises the young all by herself. In other birds like crows and blue jays, parents recruit nannies, usually former offspring, to help protect and feed the young.

MYTH #9: Since Birds Can Fly So Well, They Can Easily Adapt To Climate Change

Yes, many birds species can deal with climate change and will move north as temperatures rise, but unfortunately there are cases when they lay their eggs early and their food supply doesn’t peak when they need it the most--and their young will suffer.

bird perched on a branch

MYTH #10: Parsley Is Toxic To Birds

Nope. Not even remotely true. Birds have been eating parsley for eons. Parsley is actually excellent for a bird. It has all kinds of good stuff in it: iron, beta carotene, vitamins B1, B2 and Vitamin C. Parsley is also very rich in minerals: potassium, calcium, manganese, iron and magnesium. So throw a little parsley in their food the next time you make it. 


National-Wildlife Federation, The Spruce Pets


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