Today was a wash on all fronts. The cold overnight dropped One-eye and Big Girl’s weight faster than expected. I thought I’d fed them both up yesterday and was expecting them to have gained weight, but instead they were ravenous and had either held even or dropped. This is mostly a psychological hunger rather than a physical one, but it doesn’t make it any less ‘real’ to the birds or to their trainers. It just means that even though they are healthy and in good shape (nowhere near to being ‘lean’ let alone starving), their brains are evaluating the temperature and how much they got to eat yesterday, calculating the difference, and are reporting back with “YOU ARE GOING TO DIE IF YOU DO NOT EAT MORE”. I should have given them a day off and fed them both up. Hindsight is 20/20.
I did a session with Big Girl in the morning that went nicely, so I thought I could leave her be for a few hours. Long story short, the result of that decision is three punctures/scrapes and associated bruises on my upper arm. My fault, again– but the result is that I fed her up so much she could barely swallow. I hope that takes the edge off for her, and puts her back into ‘work mode’ without stuffing her all the way up to ‘bored and disinterested’.
One-eye was the same, if not worse. A frustrated, frantic ball of feathers. He wasn’t listening well enough to get rewarded, and that was making him offer progressively more uncontrolled behaviours (which also didn’t get him rewarded) until it culimated in him bumping into a window and having the closest thing to a honest-to-god teenaged hissy fit that I have ever witnessed in a raptor. With a coworker’s help, we switched gears to some long glove-to-glove flights down the indoor hallway to work out some of his energy and ensure enough rewards to calm him down. By the end of the session he was tired, full, and much more reasonable to handle.
Live and learn– and I will make it up to them later. Luckily for me, raptors live in the moment and rarely hold grudges!