Owen tells another park employee, as an explanation for his bond with the raptors, “I imprint on them.” In other words, it appears that Owen has overseen the hatchings of these animals, imprinting his image as a caring figure from birth.
Imprinting takes many forms, but this method, called filial imprinting, is especially common among modern-day birds. In the 1930s by Konrad Lorenz, an animal behavioral scientist, showed that the common greylag geese exhibited this behavior. A large clutch of goose eggs was segregated into two groups: one was allowed to hatch normally amongst their mother, whereas the other hatched in the presence of Lorenz. So long as they saw him during a critical, time-sensitive window after hatching, they followed him around as if he was their own mother.
This is seen in many species of bird, including in modern day raptors, or birds of prey. Angelo d’Arrigo, an Italian hang-glider pilot, noted that gliders and migratory birds use similar flying techniques; he therefore thought that he could train captive birds to follow him. On his first attempt, he successfully guided ten cranes on a 3,400-mile journey.