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!
Let’s get right into things: this is a place for me to jot down my thoughts on using operant conditioning to train birds of prey. Although the birds have formal logs at work, I mean this to be a somewhat more intimate look at the training process, as well as a place to talk about other aspects of working with non-releasable raptors. Although operant conditioning is well established, it is very, very new to me and to the birds my coworkers and I training — I will certainly make mistakes. Hopefully, I will look back on this blog and see growth in both the birds and in myself.
To protect the privacy of all involved, I will not be naming my work place or my coworkers, nor will I be using the birds’ real names, as the latter can be easily tracked. If you know me well enough to know the real names of who, where, and what I am discussing, please refrain from sharing them in comments.
I will try to keep things consistent so that folks can follow along with the individual progress of each bird, and I will keep an updated roster of all mentioned birds as follows:
“Big Girl” — Immature female BAEA, 2009 hatch. Shoulder injury.
“One-eye” — Adult male RTHA, 2003 hatch. Hit by car, left eye removed.
“Twitch” — Adult female RTHA, 2001 hatch. Illegal imprint, wing injury.
“Wee One” — Immature female AMKE, 2010 hatch. Captive bred imprint.
“Blinky” — Immature female LEOW, 2010 hatch. Captive bred, parent raised.
“Kohl” — Immature female SEOW, 2010 hatch. Captive bred, parent raised.