The Mother Bird That Saved Her Chicks by Covering Them With Her Body in the Yellowstone Fires-Fiction!



Summary of eRumor:
A forest ranger in Yellowstone finds a bird carcass after a fire, knocks it over, and out runs three baby chicks that were protected by the mother bird’s sacrifice of her own life.  The bird is described as having known that there would be toxic smoke higher in the trees, but took her chicks to the base of a tree where she covered them with her wings and saved their lives.

The Truth: 

A wonderful story, especially when tied to a wonderful Bible verse, but both The National Geographic Society and officials at Yellowstone Park say it never happened. has searched an index for National Geographic, but did not find the story.  Additionally, a representative of the National Geographic Society, L.T. Walker, says that while they get questions about the mother bird tale, it has never appeared in the pages of National Geographic.   Both Phil Perkins, the Fire Management Officer at Yellowstone, and Terry MacEneany, the park’s bird expert, have been on staff for many years, including during the well known 1988 fires.  They have both confirmed that the mother bird story is fiction.  MacEneany says he wrote an article for National Geographic about some osprey that were affected by the fires and he suspects that’s where the legend may have gotten started.  Yellowstone rangers discovered some fledgling ospreys that had fallen out of their nest when the fire burned their tree.  They fell into an area where the adult osprey couldn’t get to them to feed them so MacEneany supervised the construction of a platform to elevate a new nest.

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:


An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God’s wings.

After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings.

The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” (Psalm 91:4)

Please pass this on to others you care about and don’t drive faster than your Guardian Angel can fly.