View Full Version : Imprinting ID

06-25-2013, 01:30 PM
Recently I have been researching imprinting so I hope the definition has not been previously reviewed on NAFEX. If so please hit the delete button.

Because we as falconers spend so much time with the subject I thought it would be of interest.

One of the definitions I found on the web is: A rapid learning process by which a newborn or very young animal establishes a behavior pattern of recognition and attraction to another animal of its own kind or to a substitute or an object identified as the parent.

Among the many observations is another form of imprinting to the animal's environment but this may not fit in with imprinting as defined above.

Imprinting among birds was said to occur immediately after hatching for ducks and game birds. But as we all know hawks imprint some days later for example the sharpie at about 8-10 days, the Cooper's at about 16-20 days and a few days later for the gos.

Naturally defining what imprinting is not is also of interest such as withdrawal. Opinions about withdrawal range widely among the falconry community ranging from those who feel a person must spend every waking moment with the hawk to those who feel that once set that imprinting will remain.

Of some interest is the difference between its effect upon species and individuals.


06-25-2013, 05:08 PM

The person who did this topic the most justice was Nick Fox in his book, Understanding the Bird of Prey. I would suggest you look there for your answers.

Bill Boni

06-25-2013, 07:48 PM

Info on the accipiters is hard to come by. Thanks!


06-25-2013, 09:06 PM

Don't forget those out there who have switched passage/chamber birds into "imprints", both behaviorally (nothing more than tameness and a parent association for food) and from a breeding standpoint.


06-25-2013, 10:21 PM
My husband had a parent raised chamber bird that started acting like an imprint after about a yr. Now he is flying one of her daughters that is saker x rednape. This bird imprinted after it was hard penned.

06-26-2013, 09:36 AM
Sorry, Harry. You used a general definition of imprinting, so I didn't realize you were speaking solely about imprinting accipiters. This being the case, I guess people would have to have ample experience with imprinting other species to really be able to discern how imprinting the accipiter is different and to what extent. Or someone like yourself, who has a lot of experience imprinting accipiters could compare your experiences to what other have written, like Fox. Something like this would make for a wonderful article and really add to what has been said regarding the complexities of imprinting; and gawd knows it is a complex process that seems to take place fairly rapidly with a number of important variables, not the least of which is the bird itself. I hope you will take pen in hand again, Harry, as I would very much like to read what you would have to say regarding this topic, based upon your many experiences imprinting accipiters.

Bill Boni

06-26-2013, 10:28 AM
My good friend Lester has been flying imprint goshawks for about 40 years. he pulls them when the back feathers form a V on the babies backs and the tail feathers are just sticking out. The females have stood for AI and the males have donated. I'm not sure how old a gos is at that stage of devolopment but it is older than what most would consider imprintable.

06-26-2013, 05:48 PM

Good point! I believe it was Steve Laymen who wrote about the process of moving the passage to imprint-like behavior.


06-26-2013, 05:51 PM

Thanks for your input. It was because of our broad interpretation of imprinting that I brought up the ID question.


06-26-2013, 06:01 PM

Agreed it is a complex subject and well worth an article by some good soul. In truth I have considered writing an article about it and perhaps some day.

I read what Nick Fox had to say and wow did he hit the subject in a fluid and broad manner. He seemed influenced by C. Lorenz tending toward the permanent aspects of the behavior. He also appeared to lean toward the imprinting of the falcons in his interpretation of the term. He laid out the information for sure.


06-26-2013, 06:06 PM

It would be interesting to know the age in days your friend pulls his gos. As you know the accipiters tend to imprint over a few days and he may be pulling them toward the end of the period? But whatever the time he obviously knows his game.


11-12-2013, 12:47 PM
I currently have the misprint from hell! Well, actually he has lots of good qualities, too. The problem started right about hard penning, when I went into the hospital and he spent way too much time alone. He had been a fine, well mannered imprint that could be handled easily, but when I returned and went to working him again he had a lot of fear of me and the glove.

He still does fear the glove. He will come to it for a tidbit, but he may flair off as he arrives and then come back to it. If he is on the ground or a perch and I try to pick him up without a tidbit, he chitters and moves away.

The important thing is that he still loves his lure, so I call him in to that. I did a lot of lure training before he withdrew, and that part seems to have stuck with him. When I go to pick him up off the lure, though, he puts his head down and spreads his wings and tail and walks around in circles in a very aggressive manner. Luckily, his aggression is all towards the glove, and I can reach in with my bare hand and assist with his eating on the glove.

I've just recently started hunting with him, and he has a real good prey drive. I got a bagged bunny for him and put it on a string, and he was all over it as soon as it started running. I've since taken him hunting for the wild and free ones, and he chases hard and stays with them and lands above where they go in and chases again after the reflush several times until they get to hard cover. He just hasn't yet figured out how to get his feet on them at speed. That's just lack of experience, and I'm trying to get him out daily now to remedy that.

He also loves his giant hood and jumps right in and rides with little movement. When I take him out he steps onto the glove hesitantly but is getting used to the glove in that situation. And he stands still while I attach the transmitter. I was able to attach the mount clip to his tail while he sat on the fist being distracted by Becky.

He is also the worst bird I have ever had concerning tail breakage. I don't know what he does in the mews, but the webbing is always messed up, and he has tipped about half of the feathers. On the lure or kill, he sets his tail almost straight down and backs up onto it. I plan to start with a hair clip and try getting it onto his tail right away to prevent any more damage from that. Once I get him killing regularly, I plan to replace all the broken feathers and see if we can keep it together for the rest of the season.

So, he was a real bugger for about a month and the worst bird I have ever worked with, but he is coming around.