Consistency & Predictability

I think I’m getting into a pattern with Moon and for now, that’s what I want. For the past two days she has been on the glove for three of her four feedings a day. With the days getting shorter, it’s been more of a challenge for me to get her last feeding on the glove. Moon’s behavior changes as it begins getting dusk and I see a difference in my approximation to her. Her movements are more jerky and she seems to be more focused on the happenings of the creatures stirring outside of her enclosure than on me. So yesterday and today, I’ve been using the last feeding of the day to work on her turning around on cue. It’s been paying off and it showed this morning.

When I walk in I can tell she’s waiting for me to approach and ready to work. I set my glove on the perch beside her and she now steps on it reliably with both feet. As of late yesterday and today, now I am working on moving the glove up and off the perch and slowly moving it closer to me so I can rest my elbow above my hip to stable my hand.

I’ve made many blunders over the past two days. Moon steps on the glove and right back off. I had to shape her staying on the glove. She’d step on and off and a few times even seemed nervous and backed away from the glove. I’d have to take a step back in my approach because if I push, I could clearly see the glove becoming an aversive and a cue for aversives to come.

I walked in this morning and she was on her swing facing away from me. I needed her to turn to me so I worked on our cue to turn. She did. When she did I knew I had her full attention. This was good because when I walked in, she was watching a squirrel in a tree and pretty intently. If I wasn’t able to get her attention quickly, I would not have pushed and came back in a few minutes later. She abandoned the site of the squirrel for me. Excellent!!! She was on the glove as soon as I presented it with no signs of nervousness or aggression. Jesses fell behind the glove, perfect for now. I lifted the glove as she was eating her first reward. As she was eating her second and third, I lowered my hand each time. I reinforced for staying calm and being more at eye level. I cued her off my hand and steadied the swing with my right hand as she stepped off. I bridged and reinforced with the last piece. When she finished eating her last piece she turned her back on me and finished watching the squirrel.


Day 2 of On Glove

Second day of her being on the glove with jesses. I’m making a lot of mistakes and don’t realize some of them until they have happened. I’m just making sure I’m learning from them and making sure I can gather information from the mistakes to be better prepared for my next training session.

Just finished my first morning training session with her. One of her jesses was pushed in front of her and could cause her to trip or fumble if I asked her to step on the glove so I moved it aside with my finger, bridged and rewarded. I incorporated this into some of our training yesterday because she needs to get used to her jesses being touched. She looked a little nervous but once I bridged, she seemed to find comfort in that. Then she walked to and on the glove with no hesitation. Rewarded three times on the glove and then she stepped off.

Leather Meets Leather

We’ve been fumbling through getting used to the jesses. Yesterday she stepped on the glove immediately when I presented it but I could tell she wasn’t comfortable with it yet and it looks like its due to her getting used to the jesses while on the glove. So we backed up in training and yesterday I just shaped the glove in close proximity, which was right next to her.

I just trained her this morning and we are now shaping one foot on glove while working with maneuvering jesses in the way. The leather jesses met the leather glove this morning with no signs of nervousness. It was like two puzzle pieces snapping together.

Our new step now in training for the day is foot touches glove = reinforcement and I’ll make sure we meet that contingency today. She’s being trained 5-7 times a day for all of her food and meeting her daily food requirements.

Day Six

Ive trained her three times today. I know how much food she’s been eating daily on her own so I am dividing those portions throughout the day and now training her for the same amount. She’s reacting readily and eating from my hand in each training session.

I’m having to reshape her getting used to the glove again. I’m surprised at how far back in training I have to go with the glove, but she’s the one that determines the comfort level. I am feeding her with the glove in front of her.

Day Four of Being Jessed

Moon eating from hand after being jessed

Progress is still being made and seen on a daily basis with Moon. I’m continuing to modify and weight food daily. Last night she was given five headless mice. This morning one was missing. I let her out in the aviary for variance in enrichment. This tends to slow down our progress, but why not add it into the training plan. She ate five grams of food from my hand and she’s flying and adapting well to the jesses.

She’s Jessed

Moon jessed

I was waiting for focused training to begin once Moon was captured and jessed. As I’ve said before, I stopped actively training Moon back in May. I have one month before Moon needs to be returned to Nature’s Nursery for an event, so my focus in training her is full force. What we accomplish in the next month is yet to be seen.

The decision was made to attach traditional jesses and leave her jessed for her future as an education barred owl. I consulted with a few on the best way to do this and two days ago we captured her and coped her beak, trimmed her talons, did a health check and jessed her. The same day I chose to wrap one of her favored perches in daisy mat since I was concerned because it lost its bark over the winter. Bumblefoot could be a concern. Only one perch and a swing remain unwrapped while the other three are now wrapped. She’s now perching on the swing and the other unwrapped perch, a clear case of negative reinforcement of the behavior of her now staying outside of her back enclosure. This was not my intention but the consequence of not wrapping is worse.

Anyway, I want to keep these posts short and informative. The past two days I’ve left behind over 100 grams of mice. The first day she didn’t eat. Yesterday she had 28 grams freely. Yesterday I did try handing her food and she did take five pieces of food from me throughout the day.

She seems to prefer smaller mice and eats the heads only so this is what she gets when she gets fed from my hand. Small mouse heads and both arms and chest meat. The food I am leaving behind now are whole, large mice and rat pups because she prefers the smaller mice. I pulled 100 grams of food from her enclosure this morning and two were headless. I’m documenting this because soon nothing will go in with heads and arms with the intention of placing more value on what she is getting fed from me.

I could tell this morning she was focused on me and focused on eating because she was watching my right hand everywhere it went. I feed her from my right hand. I prepped her small mice and went in with 4 pieces weighting 8 grams. I placed my gloved left hand on the perch between her and I and as soon as she saw the glove she stepped toward it. I bridged on her first step but she took another step and stepped one foot on the glove. She leaned forward to eat but showed signs of not being comfortable with her foot on my glove and she stepped back off of it. I bridged again and rewarded. I pulled my gloved hand away and waited until she was ready. I placed my gloved hand back on the perch and as soon as she looked at it and stayed calm, I bridged and fed. My first attempt in placing the leather glove on the perch and her stepping on it was a bit more than she was comfortable with so I need to re-shape her association with the glove and this will be my focus today.

Nutrition or Enrichment?

So many times I walk into Moon’s enclosure and find remnants of the large beetles scattered on the ground. I’ve even found dead worms on her perches. I smile when I see this because I can just imagine the enrichment she finds in these. I know it’s a natural behavior for them to do and a nutritional one also. I can’t imagine the enrichment value this adds to the environment That had been provided for her. Moving enrichment for the nocturnal.