MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: why do baby ducks follow their mothers?

Date: Fri Dec 3 09:17:55 1999
Posted By: Kurt Wollenberg, Post Doc Genetics, North Carolina State University
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 942622033.Gb

Baby ducks are in the category of hatchlings called "precocial", which 
means that they can leave the nest and pick up food immediately after 
hatching. In many birds with these types of babies the babies also 
"imprint" on the first animal they see, which is usually the mother. In 
this way they are led to the correct foods, are taught to hide when danger 
threatens, and can be defended if a predator attacks. Imprinting on 
something other than the mother bird will most likely prove fatal to the 
baby bird. It is this instinct that leads baby ducks to follow their 

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