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Ted Bell
01-10-2010, 10:01 AM
I want to use operant conditioning on Francisco, my Gyr/Merlin, to see if I can't reduce some of his bad habits (screaming and manteling/carrying). Using Karen Pryor's article on falconry and OC as my guide, for the last week or so I have been trying to develop his association between the condition reinforcer (a pea whistle) and a tidbit. The question I have is how do I know when he has made the association and I can move on to the next step?

Thanks,
Ted

Mike O
01-10-2010, 10:28 AM
I tied using operant conditioning on my Red-tail to improve her manners in the mews a few years ago. It worked pretty well.

She had begun charging me when I entered the mews and what I wanted was for her to go to a far perch on a verbal que and wait there for me to enter the mews and call her to the fist.

Here is a link to the training plan I used:

http://www.netexpress.net/~okeefe/Falconry/Apprentice2/Index_files/Page362.htm

And here is a link to how it worked:

http://www.netexpress.net/~okeefe/Falconry/Apprentice2/Index_files/Page500.htm


As far as getting the clicker "turned on". That took about two repetitions.

kitana
01-10-2010, 11:00 AM
A bird will take about 2 to 3 repetitions to make the connection. A whole week of it accomplishes nothing, you should already be pairing the event marker with the behavior that you want to reinforce.

Do you know there is a yahoo group for falconers who consciously work with OC? It's called Don't shoot the hawk, and it is pretty convivial.

Bryant Tarr
01-10-2010, 11:02 AM
I want to use operant conditioning on Francisco, my Gyr/Merlin, to see if I can't reduce some of his bad habits (screaming and manteling/carrying). Using Karen Pryor's article on falconry and OC as my guide, for the last week or so I have been trying to develop his association between the condition reinforcer (a pea whistle) and a tidbit. The question I have is how do I know when he has made the association and I can move on to the next step?

Thanks,
Ted

Connect the CR to a simple behavior that he is bound to do....like turning his head away or lifting a foot. If he starts repeating that behavior in order to "make" you give the CR, then he gets it.

Ted Bell
01-10-2010, 11:45 AM
Thanks for the replies - it seems that, once again, between my birds and me I am the slow one!

Thanks,
Ted

Ted Bell
01-10-2010, 10:15 PM
Tried tying the CR to him landing on a specific perch tonight and sure enough, he got it pretty quick. Now to start working on that screaming! Great log Mike- it really made me stop and think out a solid step-by-step plan before starting modifying the hard stuff. Thanks for the assistance.

Audrey- I have not been able to find the "Don't shoot the hawk" group on Yahoo. I've tried ever search phrase I can think of- the only group I can find that involves falconry and OC is a group called "operantconditioning", but it only has 5 members and seems pretty new. Do you have a link to it that you might be able to send me?

Thanks,
Ted

FredFogg
01-10-2010, 10:21 PM
Here you go Ted!

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/OPC_Falconry/

Quite frankly Ted, every thing we do in Falconry is really OC. Steve Laymen and others just take it to anther level.

Ted Bell
01-11-2010, 10:25 AM
Thanks!

kitana
01-11-2010, 11:08 PM
It's a pleasure helping you Ted. Believe me we are always behind our birds when we start to actively use OC in their training! lol Of course anyone training a bird of prey or any animal is using operant and classical conditionning, but when one starts to use it consciously and to think about the mechanisms involved, then it reaches another level.

Good luck with that screaming, I would suggest you start with something less emotionnally involving for you, such as entering the giant hood or anything else... Build a good history of reinforcement into your bird, give yourself confidence and then go and tackle that dragon! lol

ericedw
01-12-2010, 02:26 PM
I want to use operant conditioning on Francisco, my Gyr/Merlin, to see if I can't reduce some of his bad habits (screaming and manteling/carrying).
Thanks,
Ted

Ted,
The behaviors you've listed would be very difficult to fix or even reduce using any type of OC.

You're basically stating that you want to train your bird to not do something and this is very difficult. Not screaming for example. It's hard to reinforce a bird for being quiet. We never really know what we're reinforcing in a subject but you hope through repitition they will figure it out. But this gets really tough when you're trying to reinforce a subject for not doing something.

I've trained a lot of parrots to scream on cue but none to be quiet (boy I wish I could have). True some will say that you can put the screaming on cue and just not give the cue but it's NOT that easy and it doesn't work. The bird would have to make the connection that you're reinforcing for not screaming and that's a tough leap.

Mantling is another tough concept to train a bird not to do. True you could train a bird to hold its wings tight to the body but I don't think this would be an easy concept for a raptor to learn.

Carrying might be the easiest on your list and this isn't even easy. First you'd need to determine why your bird carries. It can be a trust issue or a safety issue. I find a lot of small raptors are uncomfortable eating in the open. Does your bird carry away from you or just to safety?? The tough part here is that once the bird catches a bird it doesn't need you for reinforcement. Catching and eating a bird is a VERY strong reinforcer. You'd almost certainly have to train this with a lure and hope it transfers to the wild bird.

I in no way want to discourage you from training your bird using OC techniques but I do want to warn that these are NOT easy tasks so don't get discouraged if you don't get the results you're looking for. It's a powerful tool but has its limitations.

rocgwp
01-12-2010, 02:39 PM
I am planning on trying the same approach with my saker/merlin to overcome carrying this spring. He is freaked out to eat on the ground. The question I have is, how are you delivering the tidbit to your bird. I've seen pvc pipe stuffed with tidbits and some people hand deliver the tidbits. What is working for you?

Zarafia
01-12-2010, 04:00 PM
One thing that I have easily trained my FHH to do using OC is to fly to a particular perch in her mews.
For a bridge I use a vocal reinforcement. It was suggested to me to do that rather than using a clicker so that when she is on my glove I still have a free hand (rather than having to always be holding a clicker).
I can't say that teaching your bird to go to a particular perch will help you at all. It certainly wont if your bird isn't free-lofted. But if it is and it is like my bird, the screaming will happen when she sees you approach the mews. My bird knows that she wont get so much as the time of day from me if she isn't on the right perch (and it's not the perch closest to the door). So she does curb her enthusiasm a bit and behave right off.

JRedig
01-13-2010, 01:10 PM
But if it is and it is like my bird, the screaming will happen when she sees you approach the mews. My bird knows that she wont get so much as the time of day from me if she isn't on the right perch (and it's not the perch closest to the door). So she does curb her enthusiasm a bit and behave right off.

I realize that screaming is some what of an involuntary behavior in our birds and the operant conditioning we are asking of them is a voluntary behavior. With that being said, the above quote illustrates a point. Your bird is clearly aware of the relationship you have and it's ability to learn something. It screams when it see's you and that association is most likely driven from a food relationship. I wonder what would happen if you fed the bird through a chute or hole in the wall so it never saw you with food in the mews/chamber? Obviously they are aware of sound etc and can hear you coming either way, but if you didn't approach the mews with food for a while, maybe that would help?

What about when they do scream at your sighting, turning and walking away? Not saying it will be easy or quick...but it might work. Birds that scream just to scream, well that's a whole different ball of wax, but each bird is different, might work with some and not with others.

Zarafia
01-13-2010, 01:25 PM
My girl is silent as a churchmouse during the moult. She is altogether less noisy this year than last but she can be loud.
Last year she screamed whenever she could see people. This year she only screams when she thinks I am coming out to get her. I can be outside, working around her mews and she is quiet. She no longer screams at strangers. She is quiet once she is on my glove. But when she knows I'm coming to get her she gets very excited.
I do think that teaching her to go to her perch before I enter the mews or feed her has made her slightly quieter and it definitely gets her brain going.

carlosR
01-16-2010, 12:28 AM
I used OC with my gos to get the recall/glove association and using the lure as a bridge. The biggest obstacle for me was I wanted to blow the whistle then show the glove. My wife, little genius that she is, said, "Blow the whistle as he does the behavior not before." I really struggled with that one. He didn't though, he caught right on and from then on it was mostly steps forward. A lot of baby steps for sure.
My advice:
1. setup a video camera of yourself training your bird to do a behavior.
2. compare your performance to OC and see how you can improve and most important, what your bird is doing. You may be surprised how well trained your bird has you!
3. Have a clear plan of what you expect, want to see, and how your birds' actions are fitting the game plan.

Also, don't forget the basics like good ol' weight management, weather and temp. When your bird is done doing it even if it's after only one try then quit. Do not drag it out in an attempt to get one more. Take a lot of time outs and come back to the training area later. Your bird will slowly get a little hungrier and more eager to perform.
My take on OC is you are really keying in on your bird and guiding his natural behaviors into something you want him to do when you want it. It's kind of like jujitsu. You want to push me around I'm going to let you but so far that your behavior puts you where I want you. Does that make sense?