Yesterday I started to hood train my female kestrel. She is moulting heavily at the moment, with about 13 primaries gone and her whole tail has grown back in teh last 3 weeks, so she really wants to eat and is very motivated.

My plan was at first to desensitize her to the hood, first with classical conditionning (the hood appears at the same time as the food and goes away when the food is gone) then when I would see no more fear with operant conditionning (the hood appears, if you are not afraid and look at it food comes). The next step was to use the hood as a target and train her to put her head inside it, with operant conditionning alone, or a little bit of classical (you have to eat though the beak opening) if necessary.

Well this bird showed me that I had to revise my plans. Yesterday it took her 30 seconds of classical conditionning to stop caring about the hood, then about 3 minutes of operant conditionning later I could touch her with the hood. Today I did 2 minutes of work, I can touch her with the hood, she eats through the beak opening and has started to target it.

I'm not a very good clicker trainer, but I see that my first trainee (male Harris) was a difficult one, totally traumatized by the hood. This kestrel has had no trauma in her life aside from normal falconry training, is soooo curious and likes to experiment so I think it won't be long until I can hood her. Or so I wish!

I'll try to make some vids but my camera is awful...