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Lasting Imprints May 14, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Magick & Mystery, Nature, People.

Cat-and-DucksI went outside on the back deck and smiled when I saw a mama duck and her 5 babies.  As is the norm with ducklings, where she went, they followed.

No questions asked.  No arguments.

From birth, baby ducks (and geese) instinctively know that survival depends upon following their mother’s lead:

Ducklings imprint on their mother, a process that begins with the mother and ducklings exchanging low calls before the ducklings have even hatched. Almost immediately after hatching, most ducklings will follow the mothers into nearby water. The newly hatched ducklings are covered with a dense, insulating down that traps air, making them buoyant.

The young are able to forage immediately, but they still rely on the mother to defend them from predators. When necessary, she will call them to her with a “contact call.” Maternal care in most species lasts until the young are nearly able to fly, but the duration of parental care varies across species.  (HSUS: Wild Ducks of America)

Eventually, the ducklings mature and leave their mother’s side ~ they head off to have their own adventures, leaving her imprint behind.

And, if they don’t leave, she chases them away.

Humans have a similar, albeit more complex, bonding process.

Instead of days, weeks, or months of “taking the lead,” parents of the two-legged variety have years and years to steer their children in the right (or wrong) direction ~ to create a lasting imprint on their offspring.  Other caring (and not so caring) adults leave their imprint as well.

At some point, if all goes well from a developmental standpoint, human offspring stop playing “follow the leader,” and begin to make decisions more autonomously.  They head into the real world to have adventures of their own ~ leaving the nest behind.

The question becomes . . . what lasting familial and societal imprints will follow them wherever they go?

For more on imprinting: Learning Who Is Your Mother

Related Posts:  Life is Not One-Size-Fits-All * Discovering Right Livelihood *   Stop Playing “Follow The Leader” * Discovering Your Secret IdentityWay of the Peaceful Warrior * Live Your Life  * But I Might Die Tonight


1. Richard W Scott - May 14, 2010

I would also ask which imprints are bad for the child? The person?
It has been said, “hit a child and he is yours”… yeah, but what else is he?

nrhatch - May 14, 2010

Exactly! One of my favorite quotes about child rearing:

“Children should be unfolded, not molded.”

Of course, as is the case with many quotes in my head, I don’t have the identify of the author at hand.

2. Richard W Scott - May 14, 2010

On the other had, baby ducks are about as cute as cute can be.

nrhatch - May 14, 2010

They are.

Sadly, she’ll probably only have 4 ducklings trotting around after her tomorrow. We have lots of predators around who think that baby ducks are tasty treats.

3. mach3 - May 14, 2010

How adorable!

nrhatch - May 14, 2010

Aren’t they?

An excerpt from Florida Is For The Birds:

Ducks float lazily around on the surface of the lagoon, happily quacking in laughter (quack~quack~quack) as they paddle, or angrily chastising each other for stepping out of line with rapid-fire staccato tones:



4. Loreen Lee - May 14, 2010

I guess if I had been a duck, I wouldn’t have had to study up so much on parenting skills. Quack. Quack.

nrhatch - May 14, 2010

However did our pre-historic ancestors manage . . .

No parenting books to study?
No Dr. Seuss books to entertain?
No libraries dispensing wisdom?

I guess, like Goethe, they trusted themselves . . . and instinctively knew how to live.

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