Apologies if all my readership know this but imprinting is an important part of the formative days and weeks of many young birds. If a chick accidentally gets detached from its brood in certain circumstances it can get the wrong idea about its parents. In zoos and other collections if care isn’t taken birds can even imprint on their human guardians.
Now I’ve told everyone what they already know I’ll get to the point. A couple of weeks ago at Fleetwood Nature Park I saw a Shelduckling (no that isn’t the correct term) associating with the tame Mallard on the pond where wildfowl get bread or seed. Although nobody was actually feeding that day it looked like it was one of the gang and would join them for easy pickings.
Today I was back at the Nature Park and sure enough when a family arrived to share some seed was in the mix. In fact it was the first bird to get to the bounty, having longer legs probably helps in that regard when it comes down to a sprint.
It will be interesting to see how long it continues to be a fixture on the banks of the pond at the nature reserve. Perhaps at some point it will take up more normal Shelduck behaviour, though if it disappears it would be difficult to know if that was what had occurred.