By: Sarah Knight
Learning based on early experience; once imprinting has occured, the behavior cannot be changed.
Source: Prentice Hall Biology Book
Imidiately when a duckling is born he knows that the first larger species he sees is its mom. If a duck saw a human when it was born then it automatically "knows" that the human is its mom. So if you want a bird to live with its own species you avoid having it imprint on a human. It imprints on the species right away, but doesn't recognize an individual face for about a week even though it may recognize a voice.
Eaiser Definition of Imprinting
Imprinting refers to a critical period of time early in an animal’s life when it forms attachments and develops a concept of its own identity.
Austrian naturalist, Konrad Lorenze found that when turkeys come out of their eggs they would become attached to the first moving object they encountered. But Lorenz made himself the object of their affection. It wasn’t just him that the turkeys would attach to as a mother. They would just as easily attach to objects, such as a pair of gumboots, a white ball and even an electric train. But, if they were presented at the right time.
Humans are also a species that uses imprinting. When we are children between the ages of newborn and 4 we may hear a song multiple times. By the time we are able to "sing" we will begin singing that song. We, as humans, learn things from other humans that cannot be taken away from us. Once we begin breathing or blinking we cannot change that habbit.