Monthly Archives: February 2011

A Good Week, a Short Update

Things went well last week, for the most part! Without breaking it down by bird, everyone made an improvement. The star of this week was definitely Kohl, who went from reluctantly hopping to the feeding platform five minutes after offering a large chunk of food at the beginning of the week, to instantly jumping to the glove when offered the tiniest piece of meat by the end. She is very calm on glove, although everything the right hand does must mean food— this means touching toes or keel is out of the question, as she would much rather try to eat you.

One-eye is still sending mixed signals, but I’m keeping an eye on him. Hopefully we’ll start to make some progress this week. Twist did extremely well all week, and Blinky, although thoroughly uninterested in me for the most part, started to show a bit more interest in training.

To make this short update slightly more palatable, enjoy this image of Big Girl:

Cheers!

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Filed under Big Girl, Blinky, Kohl, One-eye, Twist

Training Days (are here again)!

Today was great! I had a blast getting right back into training, but the birds were not quite as gung-ho as I was about it. Fair enough, since most of them have had  big shifts since I last worked them regularly, and poor One-eye recently had an accident that involved him getting wedged in a wall. For these (and other) reasons, I took it slowly.

Big Girl:

Awesome, but bored. Some very nice step-ups and hops to the glove, but it didn’t last long. She was not particularly interested in food. What I’d like to work on with her is a hand signal (a rotation of the index finger) to get her to turn around on the perch and face me. She already got the foundation of the behaviour today, but I think I’ll need her a bit more keen to make more progress. I gave her a few ‘toys’ as enrichment and underestimated her urge to destroy things– by the time I got back, I found a smug eagle sitting in a pile of stuffing and shredded leather. I’m glad she enjoyed it, but we need to find enrichment tools that last longer and make less of a mess! Decoy ducks apparently work well, so I may grab her a few.

Blinky and Kohl:

The troublesome twosome are doing very well! Both are being managed sans equipment (no anklets or jesses) at the moment.  They’ve come a long way since I last wrote about them, and have ‘switched’ behaviours– a few months ago, Kohl was flighty, nervous, and slightly aggressive, while Blinky was fairly calm. Kohl is now sweet-tempered and calm, while Blinky is far more high strung and surprisingly aggressive towards the glove. I didn’t make much progress with Blinky today (dropped her food to see what it does to her behaviour overnight), but Kohl ate her food daintily from glove, stepped up, and let me walk her around (again, without equipment on). She also returned to her pen as nicely as could be. Looking forward to getting her flying this year!

Twist:

She hasn’t lost much since I’ve worked with her, and she was very well-behaved today, although she needs to be lured now on returning to the perch. That’s frustrating, as she did it automatically before. I also need to switch my focus from asking her to hop and move towards basic reinforcement on glove and good crating behaviour. Her vision is too far gone to ever fly in a show, but the more solid she is on glove, the more education programs she’ll be able to take part in. I love this bird.

One-eye:

I have to admit I’m quite depressed about how One-eye’s behaviours have broken down during our training gap. That said, I have a sneaking suspicion it isn’t due to lack of time spent– I think he may be masking an illness. There’s a pulse to his sinuses that he didn’t have before, and a very subtle click from his nares that could be usual moisture or something more dangerous. While he’s bright, alert, of normal weight, has good mutes, and in general seems perfectly healthy, there’s something about him that seems ‘off’, and I’m uncomfortable with his reduced interest in food, even though he’s at working weight.

To be fair, it may be residual stress from his accident last week, but I doubt if he even remembers it. A trip to the vet may be in order in the next few days just to be sure. All we did today were some step-ups and short flights, but he was distracted and reluctant, and ended the session ahead of schedule by refusing food. That alone tells me there’s probably something wrong… who ever heard of a RTHA being full? They’re the labrador retrievers of the bird world (ie, bottomless pits).

Wish him luck at the vet!

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Filed under Big Girl, Blinky, Kohl, One-eye, Twist

Home Again

I will do my utmost– for my own sake, if no-one else’s– to start posting here again. I made a number of mistakes during my first attempt at this… too many updates, too neurotic about writing daily, and too much of a hope that I would get reinforced by outside feedback (mostly because I hope other people find these birds as amazing as I do). Then, some frustrating things happened at work and I got pulled out of training for months, which started a depressing cycle. I could see behaviours we’d worked hard on breaking down, but could not do anything about it. Needless to say, this was difficult to watch.

Luckily, a break came at just the right time: I just came back from my first IAATE conference, and boy has it kick-started me. Not only am I going to do whatever I need to do to get back to training, but I’m also going to keep track of it in a more reasonable fashion (ie: updates when it isn’t stressful to do so). I am so excited to get started again, and also to get the birds back on track.

We are back in the game. I’ll give an update on the birds soon!

 

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