French Version

Some notions about imprinting

by Johanne Vaillancourt

Translated by Marlène Picard (Mooghie)




Imprinting is one aspect of learning that occurs in infancy, at a time when the bird is very sensitive and where it is exposed to a very significant stimulus.

Imprinting has repercussions in the very long term.

  • Parent recognition

  • Bonding

  • Characteristic of its species

  • Social relationship

  • Selection of habitat or food





It is a type of rapid learning, specific and often irreversible that does not require reinforcement and is very effective.

Behaviors that are acquired during this period will be permanent and may be decisive on other subsequent behavior of the bird.

  • Filial impression

  • Identity

  • Social adaptation



This is a crucial step in the learning process of the parrot.


A failed imprinting produces a parrot with an active defense system:


  • A bird that has had trouble with bonding and separation will suffer anxiety every time a situation of separation will occur.

  • The anxious bird will not be able to learn with confidence.




Imprinting is a phenomenon that is part of the survival instinct of animals.


  • The latter has been well detailed by Konrad Lorenz in several of his works.

  • All that is acquired in this period, when the bird is very impressionable, will become permanent and difficult to reverse.

  • Thus, the future behavior of the bird will be largely dependent on those skills acquired at a very young age.

  • It is the heterospecific imprinting (to humans) that is the source of most behavioral problems that hand-fed babies face throughout their lives.

    • Identity problem inherent in the hand-fed bird, which does not recognize the characteristics of their species.

    • Even at their sexual inclinations when they reach adulthood.

    • This is what we identify as filial imprinting, a process by which the young bird learns the characteristics of its parent, and that process induces the sexual imprint of the bird.





© Johanne Vaillancourt 2007


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