Imprinting occurs when a bird is conditioned to believe humans are its natural mother or parents. This will have implications later in life with dependency and sexual attraction.

Imprinting can be avoided by:

  • raising birds with others of the same species
  • replacing the nest
  • fostering baby birds with other parents of the same species
  • puppet feeding (some species need this)
  • playing bird calls while feeding
  • not treating the baby bird like a pet

Magpies imprint easily. Young magpie can be returned to a parent up to 21 days later. Imprinting can be avoided by:

  • raising young in groups or with older magpie
  • fostering with local parents
  • encouraging early self-feeding
  • not encouraging begging beyond an appropriate age
  • feeding with a hand puppet.