Updated: Jun 6
In his book, Influence, Robert Cialdini tells of mother turkeys who respond, almost machine-like, to one specific trigger.
These turkey mothers are loving, watchful, and protective. They spend much of their time tending, warming, cleaning, and huddling the young beneath them.
Using the science of ethology–the study of animals in their natural settings–he points out that virtually all of this mothering is triggered by one thing: the 'cheep cheep' sound of young turkey chicks.
He describes an interesting experiment involving the natural enemy of the turkey: a polecat.
The experimenters found that even a stuffed model of a polecat, when drawn by a string toward a mother turkey, received an immediate and furious attack.
When, however, the same stuffed replica carried inside it a small recorder that played the 'cheep-cheep' sound of baby turkeys, the mother not only accepted the oncoming polecat but gathered it underneath her.
When the machine was turned off, the polecat model again drew a vicious attack.