"The most famous psychological demonstrations of this is the work of Konrad Lorenz (1907-1989) who discovered that incubator-hatched graylag gueeses would “imprint” on the first moving thing they saw, very specifically in the first 36 hours of life. He called the process “stamping in” .This specific time period has become known as the critical period. The goslings imprinted on his black walking boots, and would follow him about as others would their mother. He also found that Jackdaws who imprinted on him presented him with juicy worms (often in his ear-holes). He later showed that these ducklings would even imprint on inanimate objects like a red balloon and even a cardboard box." This from an article from Psychology Today.
Just as babies imprint on their mother's voices in the womb, birds imprint on their parents songs of warning, presenting food, and joy after they hatch. There is a critical period where imprinting is the strongest. In ducks and geese it is 24-48 hours after hatching. In cats it is 2-7 weeks, dogs 2-10 weeks (which is why it is important to visit the litter as early as possible and breathe into the mouth of the puppy you select before it is released) and in primates it takes 6-12 months. Remember that perfume smell or that song that suddenly stops you in your tracks with a memory...an imprinting?
Here is a fun link to an interesting humming bird imprinting escapade.
It seems that geese imprint on their nesting site and will return year after year. I also have found in my research that geese nesting on an osprey site is not that rare. They lay their eggs a week or more earlier than osprey and do take osprey nests and in most cases hold them.
I have been thinking about this imprinting also because my dear osprey do not want to move on. They have imprinted on this part of the river. They cannot use their nest because of the
In my husband's defense he is not an engineer and he also wanted to use some stuff he already had: PVC pipe and bird netting. Anyway, this Rube Goldberg seems to be working!!
Now they have turned to our neighbor's boat. He has no concern and while they have dropped sticks, they do not seem to be building a nest. They just do the "honey" dance on the boat now and again.
Hubby thinks they are waiting for the geese to hatch and leave. Maybe he is right. They perch on a tree branch over the platform each day and watch.
These osprey are very fearful of me as they seem to remember years ago when I chased them off our boat. It is hard for me to get close enough to take a photo before they fly.
Unreasonably, I am mad at the geese and will certainly find a way to dissuade them next spring until when the osprey return. I could never have predicted that living in the woods could be so demanding!