Introduction: Animals exhibit all kinds of behaviors. Many of these, such as baby ducks following their mothers or whales migrating from cold New England waters to warm tropical ones to breed, are innate - the do not need to learn them. However, there are many other behaviors that animals develop over time from their experiences. These could include using a rock to open a shell to get the nut inside or burying food in a particular spot for later use. Animal behaviors have long fascinated scientists because, while some of them are consistent throughout a species, individuals of that species may show variations.
The behavior shown here is an example of imprinting. Under usual circumstances, the mother is the first thing baby ducks see after they hatch from their eggs. As a result, they immediately attach to her and will follow her around everywhere. It is possible to imprint on other objects. Studies have been done that show baby ducks imprinted on white sneakers or a stuffed animal. It does not matter who is wearing the sneakers or holding the animal as the ducks will follow the object, not the person.
Directions for this Lesson: Answer the practice questions and then watch the video to learn more about the different types of animal behaviors.