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Lorenz demonstrated how incubator-hatched geese would imprint on the first suitable moving stimulus they saw within what he called a "critical period" between 13–16 hours shortly after hatching.

Chicks of domestic chickens prefer to be near large groups of objects that they have imprinted on.

This behaviour was used to determine that very young chicks of a few days old have rudimentary counting skills.

Birds that are hatched in captivity have no mentor birds to teach them traditional migratory routes. The chicks hatched under the wing of his glider and imprinted on him. The young birds followed him not only on the ground (as with Lorenz) but also in the air as he took the path of various migratory routes.

He flew across the Sahara and over the Mediterranean Sea to Sicily with eagles, from Siberia to Iran (5,500 km) with a flock of Siberian cranes, and over Mount Everest with Nepalese eagles. In a similar project, orphaned Canada geese were trained to their normal migration route by the Canadian ultralight enthusiast Bill Lishman, as shown in the fact-based movie drama Fly Away Home.

This allows mothers to distinguish their chicks from parasitic chicks.

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The filial imprinting of birds was a primary technique used to create the movie Winged Migration (Le Peuple Migrateur), which contains a great deal of footage of migratory birds in flight.The birds imprinted on handlers, who wore yellow jackets and honked horns constantly.

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The best-known form of imprinting is mental imprinting, in which a young animal acquires several of its behavioural characteristics from its parent.When taken to Moscow Zoo for mating with the male giant panda An An, she refused his attempts to mate with her, but made a full sexual self-presentation to a zookeeper.It commonly occurs in falconry birds reared from hatching by humans. When an imprint must be bred from, the breeder lets the male bird copulate with his head while he is wearing a special hat with pockets on to catch the male bird's semen.In psychology and ethology, imprinting is any kind of phase-sensitive learning (learning occurring at a particular age or a particular life stage) that is rapid and apparently independent of the consequences of behaviour.It was first used to describe situations in which an animal or person learns the characteristics of some stimulus, which is therefore said to be "imprinted" onto the subject.It was rediscovered by the early ethologist Oskar Heinroth, and studied extensively and popularized by his disciple Konrad Lorenz working with greylag geese.