Today, we went on a road-trip to meet a potential new education bird, and ended up bringing her home with us. Another RTHA– I’m almost regretting One-eye’s nickname now, as the new bird is also missing the same eye! She’s gorgeous, despite her injury, and is lucky to be alive after being hit by a truck on the highway. She’s pale compared to the rest of our red-tails, and built sturdily. She has one behavioural issue we’ll need to work on pretty quickly– spinning on the glove– but I think that will sort itself out as quickly. I think she’ll be very responsive to training, but, alas, we have rearranged who is training who, and she is not on my list! Perhaps down the road I’ll get to write about her in more detail.
She was great today, and got to go for a big, long walk with a co-worker while we were on our way to pick up the new RTHA. I managed to get a session in before I left, and she was absolutely perfect. By the time we got the new RTHA home, coped, jessed, and settled, it was dark– Big Girl had to be brought inside to do her session, and she was pretty hungry. Much more controlled than yesterday, though, and we got a full session with great responses in.
- Big Girl is now a jointly-trained bird, so I may not get daily sessions with her, but I will still be taking a lead role in her training and will write about her often.
One-eye did very well today. We worked on targetting, and on reinforcing the cue. He definitely doesn’t ‘get it’, yet– I’m not sure if it’s because he doesn’t understand what the bridge means as well as I thought he does, or whether the lightbulb hasn’t come on yet.
Today’s neat moment was actually a miscommunication– I cued when he wasn’t looking at me. The cue is a sharp, double-tap. He heard the cue but didn’t see it, so as he took off he started towards my glove. I’d given the cue on a perch to my left, however, and my hand was in the process of retreating from that perch when, in mid-air, he realized his mistake and tried to correct his aim from glove to perch at the last minute. It was too little, too late, and he bumped into the side of the perch and scrabbled on the table before recovering himself.
Obviously he didn’t get a reward, but it was interesting to see the mental “oops!” and his attempt to fix it. Good, if belated, communication!
- One-eye is still ‘my bird’ after the training reorganization, so I’ll continue to update regularly with his progress!
Twitch got two sessions today, and was good for both — it was busy this morning, though, and she definitely has trouble with outside noise and confusion interrupting the training session. Her progress is slow, but she goes a little further every day. Today, she did quite a few nice step-ups and some hops to the glove, and lots of repetitions. It was bitter-sweet for me, because:
- Twitch is no longer a bird I will be actively training– I am reluctant in regards to this, but the staff member who is taking over for me is extremely patient and sensitive, and will be perfect for Twitch’s issues. I will still handle Twitch and keep an eye on her progress, but won’t be doing regular daily sessions with her.
Great, but adorably clueless! Two sessions today, and she’s taking the rewards reliably. I’m worried we’re developing a superstitious behaviour, as she always lifts one of her tiny feet and places it on the glove when she takes the food– it’s cute, but I don’t want it interfering with anything later. We’ll have to monitor it. She definitely doesn’t associate the bridge with the reward yet.
- Wee One is also off my training list for active duty. That leaves me with only One-eye as a solo bird and Big Girl as a shared priority.
Because tomorrow, we’re road-tripping up north to pick up two new, untrained owls– a long-eared and a short-eared. I don’t know what state they’re going to be in, but the restructuring of the training birds will leave me with the time I need to devote myself to the two new arrivals.
Wish us luck!