Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Sable’s Manning Log

September 26th, 2011

Sable’s Manning Log

It’s been a week since capture for Sable and the training progress has been steady this week after the initial jump to the glove.  With her hunger response now keyed into the glove and her comfort level with my presence and handling I was able to place her out in the mews last night.  I’m sure creance and lure training will go equally as well over the course of the next couple of days.   For now, I’ll post up the manning log for a day-by-day account of the activities, mannerisms and observations that I made over the course of the week.

Manning Log

—–=====<<<<< Sunday Evening >>>>>=====—–

First manning session went pretty well. hackles and wings all up to start, two hard bates and then she settled down. Se seemed to sit on the glove well for long periods of time, and then a bate attempt. I introduced chopstick and tested her tolerance. She didn’t pay any attention to it after the third time. After three more bates, she started picking at her jesses. I think she figured out that the jesses were holding her in place. I was amazed that she started picking at the jesses first night on the glove. I didn’t offer food tonight, but will tomorrow. I picked her up, gave a little water, without bating, and then hooded her on first attempt. No bate, no bite, no fuss, no muss. She took the hood like a champ. Put her back in the box and will try again tomorrow. I might have some extra manning time during the day, today. We shall see.

Training Time: 2-1/2 hours

—–=====<<<<< MONDAY >>>>>=====—–

Monday AM Session:
I took her out of the giant hood backwards as she was facing the wrong way in the box; she still had the hood on from last night. I took it off and her wings flared and hackles went up. This posture quickly subided after a bate and then settling on the glove. We sat still for a few minutes until the next bate. Since she appeared so comfortable picking at her braces last night, I decided that I ought to introduce food today. I thawed out a decent size rabbit chunk from the freezer and quickly placed it on the glove after a couple of bates. She kept it under her talons for a little while. She noticed it, took a quick nip and then left it alone. She slowly bent over to look what had appeared under her feet; stared at it for a while. There were two more bates that dropped the meat to the floor where I quickly snatched it up and placed it back on the glove. She finally bent over, took another quick snap on the meat, and then proceeded to eat the food comfortably. She did not appear wary of me at all. Success at eating on the glove 24 hours after capture. This is quite unusual.

Training Time: 1-1/2 hours

Monday PM Session:
With food out of the way, I wanted to see what else we could accomplish by sitting together some more today. Her posture slowly eased into one that appeared comforatble and easy going. Her wings were neatly folded, her feet were properly situated on the glove for a comfortable perch. Her hackles were down and she simply stared forward. My coughing fits and nose-blowing have been alarming, but she seemed to get used to these minor interruptions also. After another long sitting session after some bating, I picked her up and walked her around the room. Getting up did not alarm her. She sat comfortably on my glove as I paced around. I found the water bottle and gave water. She eagerly drank this time, relaxing enough to swallow in rythm with the squirts. This appears to be some serious progress for a freshly trapped bird and I am eagerly awaiting tomorrow nights training session for ‘Step-to-the-glove-from-the-perch’ which is an important step in getting her out to the mews. I’m trying to plan this out for Friday night so that I can spend time with her in the mews before dark and also have enough time early in the AM on Saturday.

Training Time: 1-1/2 hours

—–=====<<<<< TUESDAY >>>>>=====—–

Lesson Plan: Luckliy, I’m Feeling better today. I’m going to thaw out some small mice for reward today and see if she’ll step to the glove or jump to the glove. When finished, we are going to hood up and scrub her feet again.

Activity: Started the session out by taking Sable out of the box very gently. She seemed to step up to the glove easily and came out of the box without an issue or a bate. Posture was apprehensive, but it quickly subsided. Sat down and she sat on the glove; took wieght with hood off. Easily stepped to scale and waited enough time to get proper weight. 1070g tonight. Picked her up off the scale easily. Hooded her for feet scrubbing with little issue. Feet cleaning is going to take some time to get them into good shape, they are still quite dirty so we are going to make that a regular activity for a while. She tolerated feet scrubbing well enough to get in a lenghty scrub.

After sitting on the fist and a couple of bates, we attempted to sit on the perch and try to step-to-the-glove. We repeated bate, stand, bate, stand for several repititions until she settled down. She sat on the perch for short periods of time before bating off to air. I did my best to catch her with the jesses each time. After she settled, I plopped a mouse on the glove; she noticed right away, but didnt bend down to get it. It took a few more bates to settle down and she finally ate the mouse on the glove. I look at this as reinforcement from yesterday’s lesson, in the hopes of getting her in a ‘hungry’ mood for stepping to the glove. Afte the next bate, I placed another mouse on the glove, but showed it to her from a distance. She bent over once to attempt to pick it up off the glove, but I didnt let her. We were unsuccessful for the rest of the evening with two more tries. We sat quietly without bating for another twenty minutes. I placed her in the box, backwards without a hood without issue.

Training Time: 2 hours

—–=====<<<<< WEDNESDAY >>>>>=====—–

Lesson Plan: Hood, wash feet, attempt step-to-the-glove

Activity: Weight: 1043g. We’re not gaining much ground on the weight with the weather as warm as it is. Perhaps the next couple of days will provide the cool evenings we so desparately need. Tonight was basically a repeat of last night without any eating. We took weight without hooding, without bating. She hooded easily for feet washing and took it very well. She is much more interested in bating and chewing on her anklets than eating or paying attention to the glove. I gave her a second try on the perch and then put her back in the Hood without issue.

Training Time: 1-1/2 hours

—–=====<<<<< THURSDAY >>>>>=====—–

Same behavior as Wednesday. Weight was at 1013 Grams. I’m going to put her outside, in the box, in the mews in the hope that the cold will trigger a hungry response.

Training Time: 1  hour

—–=====<<<<< FRIDAY >>>>>=====—–

Similar Program this evening: Went out to mews, got the box and brought it in the house. Took out Sable and got weight. It’s tough to get her out of the box gently when she is facing the wrong way. Posture was aggressive at first, but she swiftly settled down. After weight, hooded her, and then walked around the yard before dark. No issues there.

The remainder of the evening proved out to be an effort in futility to witness any progress or hunger activity. We went through a series of ‘perch-bate-glove’ episodes with no indication of being hungry or moving toward the glove. I placed her in the box, gently, and then took her out to the mews and let her rest for the night.

While ‘progress’ may be measured in what step she’s at in the training curriculum, I’m thinking that her easy-going manner is getting solidfied as our comfort level with each other grows. She has yet to make an intentional agressive move towards me or my hand.

 Training Time: 1 hour

—–=====<<<<< SATURDAY >>>>>=====—–

Sable spent the night and part of the day out in the Mews, in the giant hood. This appears to have achieved the desired effect I was looking for today. I picked her up out of the mews at 1:00pm and did a manning session in the middle of the day. I took her out of the box, hooded her up, and we went for a walk outside. Then we spent the next hour working on the step-to-the glove. She weighed in at 960g today. I did something against my training principles today, and instead of waiting for Sable to ‘figure it out’ today, I antagonized her a little bit by putting the tid-bit up to her beak. I also started pulling her jesses to unbalance her a little bit. The trick worked. She got one snack for free, and then, I got what I was hoping for, hoping to turn ‘on’ the hunger response and it came. The next tid-bit she was a little more interested in, and was now finely tuned into the glove. I let her have the next one for bending over to the glove and she ate it easily. By this time, I was witnessing full hunger mode. So I slapped another tid-bit up to the glove, blew the wistle lightly and she jumped to the glove without hesitation. Now, with every jump to the glove, she was watching my right, un-gloved hand very intently and I noticed this. So, in the next couple of training sessions I’m going to have to be much more careful with garnishing the glove.

I had a suspicion that she would catch on very quickly once she was in ‘hunger’ mode, and she did. We probably got about 8 jumps to the glove, three of which were for no reward, as she was eager to look for a snack on the glove; She figured it out. One short hesitation to the glove and that was it. Later in the evening, I took her out of the box for a ‘maintenance’ session. I got weight to see how much she ate earlier in the day; 1000g, so she got around 40g of food. I hooded her, socked her, and taped her feet up so that I could attach her bells, official bird band, and affixed her tail mount for her telemetry. When all was said and done, she was un-taped and I took the hood off without any issues at all. After a few mintues to settle down, I scrubbed her feet with her hood off for the first time and she gave no sign of irritation whatsoever.

AM Training Time: 30 Minutes

PM Training Time: 1-1/2 hours (20 minutes Setup Time)

—–=====<<<<< SUNDAY >>>>>=====—–

PLAN: The plan for Sunday is to get in one more training session indoors, and then take her out to the mews for the first night. I also have to get a fecal sample to the VET clinic, so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to catch that before tomorrow night on the tin-foil that’s currently in the box.

Activity: A quick lesson in the morning was all it took for Sable to get the hang of flying to the glove. I figured it wouldn’t take her long at all, once she figured it out. I staged the perch and a long leash in the den and she took the first jump easy. The next several flights were slightly hesitant at first, but she got it. I even got two flights without reward and she took it in stride. Each time, I had to set her back on the perch, even though one time I tried to get her to fly back to the perch but she wasnt leaving the glove without a reason. So I put a mouse on the perch and tried to get her to fly to the perch and she was unable to go. Last big flight to the glove was high and she flew up and landed easily. With 8 flights indoors today, I am satisfied that I’ll be able to take her out to the mews this evening.

Training Time: 30 Minutes

Mews: I had to get the paper, water, and catch netting set up for our mews introduction. Tonights routine started out just like the others. Took her out of the box without much of an issue. Moved over to the scale and got weight, again without any trouble. Brushed feet clean and applied lotion without any trouble or bating. Grabbed a hood and a leather glove to walk outside. Tonights walk was first attempted without a hood on to see where her attention was. She was all bate for the first several steps. Once I got around the house, I put her back on the glove and hooded her. Walked around the house and put her in the mews and then took the hood off. We sat down quietly for a few minutes before I put her on a perch. She immediately turned around and was working at the bars. I am worried that she’ll hurt herself either on the bars or on the cieling. She hung upside down from the cieling twice, then fell to the ground. She broke a tail feather in the first five minutes. ARGH! I hung out for a few minutes more while she acclimated to the new home. I’m going to go out there early in the AM and make sure she is OK.

Training Time: 30 Minutes

—–=====<<<<< MONDAY AM>>>>>=====—–

I had to check on Sable early in the morning, during the dark, before I went off to work. She was sleeping on the high perch with her head tucked under her wing. I only remember catching Tahoe like this once.  I cam in and had to wake her up gently.  I didn’t want to startle her and end up with a scared and startled hawk, so I tried to make some noise. I also did not want to pick her up off the perch. The key event here is having her come to the glove on her own.  From my learning and education from my first training episode, continuously entering the mews with food can cause some bad habits.  So, today will be the only day I’ll go in there with food.  She seems pretty comfortable with my presence and the glove, so I don’t think it will be necessary.

—–=====<<<<<  END of Manning Log>>>>>=====—–


** Training times were added after publishing as a suggestion to understand the amount of time one should dedicate to training.  I would say that the times here are extremely accelerated due to the nature of the hawk’s personality.  Training times and exercises can vary depending upon the hawk’s  progress.  My first hawk took an entire week to eat from the glove and another week to get out to the mews.


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Tahoe to the lure : Video

March 11th, 2010

Tahoe Flies down to the Lure

A second video post of a hunt a week ago with Tahoe flying down to the lure at the end of the hunt.  This is good response to the lure, as you hear a brief whistle, and then you see Tahoe come down out of the tree and land on my gauntlet.

Call to Videographers

During the hunting season I usually go out 2 times a week for hunting.  I would love to have some more video of Tahoe on a hunt, especially the part where she makes a catch.  If you are interested in helping film content for The Austringer Blog, please leave a comment or contact me! Thanks!

*Video credits to the videographer, D2.

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Tahoe feeding on the Lure : Video

March 9th, 2010

Tahoe feeding on the Lure

I was out hunting the other afternoon with a group of friends and we were able to catch some video of Tahoe feeding on the lure at the end of the hunt.  Our conversation turned to a “what-if” scenario when trained hawks don’t come down when they are called. It was a good day’s hunt, going out in a nearby woodlot searching for the bunnies.  Tahoe took one good swipe at a squirrel during the afternoon, but was pestered by mobbing crows and an angry resident red-tail.  With the weather getting warmer, it’s been difficult gauging weight and performance lately. More stories to come as the hunting season comes to an end.

Video credit and my Thanks  goes to my good friend, D2.

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Early November Hunting

November 6th, 2009

Early November Hunting


If anyone ever tells you that being the falconer is easy hunting, you would be hard-pressed to find any falconers who would agree with that.  This week I have been hunting some terrific woodland areas, areas that I would consider to be prime rabbit country.  There is everything there for them:  food, cover, housing, and water.  I have even observed rabbit sign all over the place.  Everything from holes, sitting places, dung, and even bark-gnawing.  However, in these meadow areas, I have yet to see a lagmorph in this prime country.  This is why it’s so frustrating when trying to enter a newly trained hawk on the desired quarry:   you can never guarantee the abundance or even appearance of the target game animal.

It’s been a tough couple of days trying to put some game under the hawk to test her hunting prowess.  More so just to ensure that Tahoe understands what we are out in the field for; hunting.   To find game and capture it is truly a challenge for even the most seasoned hunter, and is surely the sign of a great falconer.

Lessons Learned

  • Maintain Weight – it’s important to maintain the weight of your raptor, pay extra attention to the cold nights.  An extra mouse or two can make the difference between a responsive raptor and a sluggish one.
  • The Hawk is Hunting Too – the raptor is doing what it naturally knows how to do: Hunt.   Give her a little extra time to take in the surroundings, enjoy her perch, and watch for those prey opportunities.
  • Be Patient – the partnership starting to form will take time and practice to form into a well oiled machine.  Do not rush her from tree to tree.   Work around the area where she is perched, and then move on. She’ll follow along in all due time.
  • Walk Away – I’ve noticed that after a stoop into the grass, she becomes fixated on that area, knowing that there is a tasty morsel walking around somewhere in that tall grass.  Be ready to walk away and let her come up to a higher perch when she is ready. She’ll follow through the woods in time.
  • Reward the Higher Perches – this is tricky to do: you want the bird to take higher perches, but you don’t want to always call her  down from them.  Make sure you reward the desired behavior as soon as  possible during these early hunting expeditions.  That way, on future hunts, she’ll know what to do when game is near.

Happy Hunting and Hawk Training!

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Trianing Log

October 27th, 2009

Training Log

Since I don’t have a better place to put my descriptive log for the first week, I’m going to post it up here with the weight chart from my first couple of weeks. This way, I can go back and refer to it, and have it stored where it’s pretty easy to access.  Any further entries are going to be contained as POSTS to this blog.

——–=========<<<<<<< START OF HAWK LOG >>>>>>>==========———-

Hawk Log entry day 1: September 27th, 2009


Trapped at 1147 grams.   Weight with equipment:  1174 grams.  After dusting, and attachment of the Jesses, We fitted her with a hood, and placed her in the box carefully.  The hood was put on slightly loose so that she could throw it and be comfortable for most of the day. When I took her out of the hood in the evening, she was turned around with the hood off.

Evening Summary:

3 bates in a row, it took 15 minutes to relax (hackles down, wings down)
Some Time….
water attempt, bate
20 minutes
water again, better adjustment
20 minutes
Chopstick test, good.
20 minutes
water again, easily accepted.
10 minutes, chopstick test, no big deal.
10 minutes, I stood up, bate
More Time….
Muted on the paper (thank goodness) and began looking around for an exit.  bated once. Decided to call it a night.
Clumsily attempted to hood her. Would not accept the hood (not surprising).
Slowly backed her into the Giant hood with no problems. Closed the door.  Forgot to put tinfoil in Hood. opened door and put tin-foil under her, no issues.

Will present food tonight.  I’ll need to hood her in order to get weight tonight.

Overall, I think the first night went pretty well, all things considered.  While a scared red-tailed hawk is quite formidable, she also seems to be picking up on things fairly quickly.  The watering took two attempts for her to be comfortable with that.  She often lip-smacked and seemed to be ready by the third time for the water.   The chopstick lesson was also a good introduction to having her feet touched, and she tolerated it exceptionally well;  looked down at the chopstick, but didn’t flinch, bate, or give it hardly any attention.  Her feet didn’t move. Since she was so tolerant of the chopstick on the feet, I even attempted to smooth out her wing feathers with my hand.  Slow, deliberate movements with no sudden moves is key.  She accepted my hand, albeit, apprehensively. She never snapped at me with her beak, but was very much against the hood going back on.

Hawk Log entry day 2: September 28th, 2009

Opened Hawk-Box to find Tahoe turned around again.  Only one small mute on the tin-foil.
One good bate-fit right out of the box, settled onto fist.
After three attempts, success at hooding.
Placed on scale for  weight:  1130g
Hood-tare= 20g : So far, all weights have been with hood, so actual weight is 20g heavy.

Unhooded Tahoe, and settled into the chair.
Gave water, easily accepted.
Touched with chopstick.
Touched wings and feathers with hand, gently: minimal reaction.
Touched feet with hands. minimal reaction  (this is a good sign)
Washed feet with toothbrush and water. minimal reaction (now I’m excited!)
Occasional feet adjustments on glove, repositioning.
Muted twice on paper.
Again, started looking around for an exit, bated. (this happened twice)
Changed leash from caribiner style to snap-shackle style while on the glove. (no issues)

Placed her back in the box without issue.

Looking forward to getting her tail-mount clip for telemetry transmitter.

I should note another difference from first night to tonight: she held onto the glove for balance with good grip-force so much that it took the circulation out of my finger.  Tonight, not so much.  In fact, after she did settle with a wider stance on my fist, her grip relaxed a bit with better balance. Seemed much more comfortable.

Hawk Log Day 3: September 29th, 2009

1: introduction to the boys

2: outfitting at sues

3: intro to food – no dice

weight: 1069, no hood

Hawk Log Entry, Day 4: September 30th, 2009

Tahoe spent two hours on the fist today during work hours at the computer. One hard bate during the afternoon session. Had a chicken drumstick on the fist. She did notice it, at one point even grabbing it with left foot.

Tool her out in the evening session and got weight: 1039 g no hood.
Settled in on the fist later brushed feet, no problems with that.
Failed at three attempt at hooding, but then was able to get it on upside down. Tightened it up and the loosened it and took it off . I want to be able to hood her and for her to learn that’s it’s not a long term thing.
Sat down for another long spell And the put her back in the box. Took the hawk box out to the mews for the night. Night was chilly @ 35 degrees. We’ll see if that helps the response tonight for food.

weight: 1040g

Hawk log day 5, Thursday October 1st, 2009

wight: 1040g

No change in weight today is quite disturbing, considering that she spent the night outside in the mews during a cold night (35 degrees).  When I took her out of the box, she was quite fluffed up.  Tonight I had lynn help me for the first time with some maintenance items:
1. we placed the band on the bird, now that we had tygon tubing around the band.
2. lynn cleaned talons for the first time.  It was a trick to put the bird back up on my own fist.
3. I decided that I didn’t like the thin jesses that appeared to be showing wear, so I changed them with Tahoe on the fist.
4. we have some dirty feathers from sitting in the giant hood, so I cast her in my lap again, and attempted to clean them: a few primaries and the train is dirty.

Hawk log, day 6, Friday October 2nd, 2009

Weight: 1040g
Had her out on the fist during the day during work.  Comfortable bird. roused and sat flat-footed.
attempted to show food (chicken leg) and was not interested this evening.  Another session goes by without a bend-over.
Washed feet

Hawk Log Day 7, Saturday October 3rd

Weight: 1030g
Chipmunk Weight: 110g

I’ll follow Sue’s cue this evening and provide a tasty thawed out chipmunk for Tahoe tonight.
She ate the whole chipmunk! success! It was a good feast, Tahoe looked down, stalled a minute with fur in her beak, and then bent down , fully mantled over her food, and ripped and tore into the chipmunk.  It took her a few minutes to eat, as she tore into it, prepared bite-sized peices, and she ate the whole thing.  She even cleaned her talons when she was finished.  A very satisfying session for both hawk and falconer.

Hawk Log, Day 8: Sunday October 4th, 2009

Weight: 1059g

Started out today’s session with feet cleaning, and weight.  Then things went downhill from then.  See, the chipmunk was probably too much for her, and is not hungry today. No response to beef-heart or to a small mouse. Whistled and showed garnished glove, and she looked away.  She does like the other perch though; she flew to it off the glove.  Now if I can just get the opposite.
Hooding went poorly again.  No luck with the hood.  She figured out how to avoid the hole for her beak, and rejects it every time.  I got my finger snapped once, and the last time she grabbed the hood right out of my hand and threw it to the ground.
I put her back into a clean box, and then took her out to the mews.

Hawk Log, Day 9: Monday October 5th, 2009

Weight: 1033g

Found my first casting in the hawk box today, most likely from the chipmunk the other night.  She spent the night and the day out in the mews, and will go back out there tonight.
Session was short tonight: no response to beef heart reward, no step to the glove. So we brushed feet with minimal distraction and also put the transmitter on and took it off.  This was an irritation to her.  Tough to get it on, and same difficulty to get it off.  Did not appreciate hand reaching behind her and messing with feathers.  Transmitter is *difficult* to get on while raptor is irritated with you.  I hope it goes more smoothly next time.

Hawk Log, Day 10:  Tuesday October 6th, 2009

Weight: 1017g

Sue came over and performed West Nile Vaccination this evening.  Very easy. Surprising how well the bird took it.
No response to tidbit on glove.  Washed feet for a few minutes.  I think she actually got more calm as I scrubbed (feathers down, and wings relaxed).Put back in box and finished early this evening.

Hawk Log, Day 11: Wednesday October 7th, 2009

Weight: 994g

She took three hops to the glove for beef heart today.

Hawk Log, Day 12:  Thursday October 8th, 2009

Weight: 979g

I chopped up four mice for nutrition today.  She hopped twice, and flew 4 times to the glove.  Only ate 6 halves of mice, other two were not interested in. Flights were short: 5 feet, not much more.  The interest just isn’t there.
Not ready for creance, not ready for mews yet.

Hawk Log, Day 13: Friday October 9th, 2009

Weight 985g
Training session in the house, flew to glove, missed on last time.
Took Her out to  the mews for the first time.  I sat her on the window first, then showed her the high perch.

Hawk Log, Day 14:  Saturday October 10th, 2009

970g in am
959g in pm with 20g hood on
939g total

Hawk Log Day 15: Sunday October 11th, 2009

Weight: 905g in afternoon

25g of beef heart, 20g mouse (med)
Creance training, did well: first bate off of perch, then came to glove 8x.  Ended with the mouse.  Yum.

Hawk Log, Day 16:    Monday, October 12th, 2009

875g to start
935g to end
60 g food

Response not quite there yet.  We were out in the yard, just before dark, so the lack of daylight may have contributed to her lack of attention.
Threw down the lure with a big mouse.  Noticed, but did not pounce.

Hawk Log, Day 17: Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

886g to start
936g to end
50g food

Training at Sues today.  Response not fast enough yet.  We think another 20 – 25g or so should produce the type of response I am looking for: Attentive, hot to the glove, and ready for more.

Hawk Log: Friday October 16th, 2009

weight: 865g

Performance was very good on the Creance at the Park today.  Flew full length of creance to glove.

——–=========<<<<<<< END OF HAWK LOG >>>>>>>==========———-

Here is a graph of her weight with overlays of the temperature for the corresponding days.

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