Abstract from the Wader Study Group Bulletin
22nd June 1996
It has long been well known that baby birds imprint on their mothers and mimic what they do. An astonishing case of just how far a baby bird feels it must go has come from Siberia.
A Dutch ornithologist, Holmer Vonk, was studying Grey Plovers on the Siberian tundra at the end of July 1994. He reports in the Wader Study Group Bulletin (79, page 120) that he saw a seven day-old chick limping away from him. He was able to catch it and its right leg, on which it was limping, looked alright.
When he had ringed the chick it ran for a few steps without the limp and then started limping again. Its mother had a severely damaged right leg and the chick was just doing exactly what she did!
The limping chick had a list to the right and was not able to walk as fast as a normal chick. Its chances of survival were probably much reduced by this behaviour but, if it had a normal parent, behaving in an identical fashion will undoubtedly be the best way of surviving.