I had a lot of fun with One-eye today. Yesterday’s session was a bit slow– many things conspired against us. I tried to train him earlier in the day than I typically train, he wasn’t very hungry, and there were distractions all over the place. It’s challenging at times to find a quiet place to do a session when there is so much going on! As a result, he didn’t get a lot of food yesterday. I knew today would be a higher-energy session as a result.
Well, was he ever ready to work! He was much more responsive to my cues today, and he’s already learned that ‘point’ (a very dramatic and sharp arm gesture pointing where I want him to go) is the same as ‘tap’ (a quick and audible double tap on the surface I want him to land on). Today we worked on pointing from further and further away, so that eventually I was standing completely still and just changing the direction I was pointing in. Quick and clean. He’s started to ‘offer’ jumps, which is great, because it means he’s trying to figure things out. You can almost hear him say, “Will you click if I go here? No? What about here?”. The biggest challenge so far seems to be that if there are three possible perches in a rough line (say: 1, 2 and 3), and you call him from perch 1 to perch 3, he really wants to land on perch 2 instead of going the full distance. Because it’s closer? I’m not sure. But I did get him to bypass the centre perch a few times, and we’ll continue to work on it.
At the end, he still had a lot of energy and I could tell he wanted to fly. I opened all the interior doors and asked him to fly down a decently long hallway– he was great. Came once when I didn’t call him, whipped around at the dead-end, and came back to fist. It was hard not to give him a reward for the fancy flying!
He was free-lofted tonight as a test. I think it will make him crazy tomorrow, but with winter housing upon us, we’re short on space and he’s one of the few who can go in the loft and not completely mess up his training. I’m hoping he’s still ready to work!
The two new owls have arrived– and as they have ‘real’ names now, it’s time to give them nicknames too. In this journal, the long-eared owl will be called Blinky, as that is what she spends most of her time doing. The short-eared’s new moniker is Kohl, considering her beautiful eye markings:
We have decided to use the approach-retreat method with these birds, due to their level of anxiety and their complete disinterest in food (Kohl was so fat when she arrived that I actually thought she had a tumor). Today was the first attempt. Way too early for any results, of course– I did three repetitions for each bird of opening their cages, waiting calmly, and bridging on retreat. This will be very, very slow training… but I am looking forward to seeing even tiny amounts of progress!