The focus during this week’s Raptor Internship was training education birds. The brief lecture covered how to glove and flight train a bird, and training using positive vs negative reinforcement.
Two volunteers, along with Pip, then demonstrated flight training using a creance.
Pip on the glove, prior to a flight
Pip in flight
Pip about to land on the glove
The trainers face away from each other between the flights. During this time the receiver prepares the food reward on the glove and the bird finishes the food it has just received from the last flight. When the bird and the receiver are ready, both trainers turn around and the receiver blows her whistle to signal the bird to fly.
Here’s a closer look at the creance. It’s a piece of capped PVC pipe with some sand (?) inside to make it the appropriate weight for the bird in training.
Dawn explained that lures may also be used to flight train a bird, and she showed the following two examples. The pigeon might be used for training a bird like a Peregrine Falcon, while the black and white “skunk” might be used for a Great Horned Owl.
In the afternoon we had more handling experience. I took Pip first and since he had flight jesses on, I had to change his equipment, which went pretty smoothly. Next I walked with Meepy, and finally with Darwin. All of the students were walking around the grounds at the same time; it was like a parade of raptors.
After the raptor walkies, it was time to clean out a couple of the mews. I hadn’t cleaned while a bird was in its cage before, but I got to pick up waste and change the water in Zen’s place while he watched me warily from the corner. Next I worked in Junior’s mew. Junior’s a bit horny these days, which might mean he could be aggressive towards people. While I was picking up, volunteer Karen kept an eye on Junior and stood guard in case he got any bad ideas. For those keeping track, I found another two headless mice while cleaning out the mews this week. 😉 Next week: feeding and nutrition!