Imprinting

Imprinting occurs when a bird is conditioned to believe humans are its natural mother or parents. This will have implications later in life with dependency and sexual attraction.

Imprinting can be avoided by:

  • raising birds with others of the same species

  • replacing the nest

  • fostering baby birds with other parents of the same species

  • puppet feeding (some species need this)

  • playing bird calls while feeding

  • not treating the baby bird like a pet.

Magpies imprint easily. Young magpie can be returned to a parent up to 21 days later. Imprinting can be avoided by:

  • raising young in groups or with older magpie

  • fostering with local parents

  • encouraging early self-feeding

  • not encouraging begging beyond an appropriate age

  • feeding with a hand puppet. 

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Wildlife Hospital

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New Zealand

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