Why do chicks (baby birds...jeez) follow the mother bird and do whatever she does? The reason is that they are going through a process of imprinting, in which certain birds and mammals form attachments during a critical period very early in their lives. During this point in development, the birds are so available to form attachments, that even if there is no mother bird, or no bird at all, they may develop attachments to a substitute. For example, if you hatched several baby geese and raised them without having a mother goose around, the chicks may perceive you as the mother and imprint to you. They would follow you around, try to mimic lots of your behaviors, etc., just as if you were the mother. This is the way they learn the behaviors and characteristics of their species.

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