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Thread: Ringing flights through O/C

  1. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandragen View Post
    I only called them new because that's what was being said, I understand fully there is nothing new here.
    I should have been more clear in using the term "new language"
    I would agree that they are mostly old ideas, but I would also suggest that many of the applications could in many ways be classed as entirely "new"

    I do think there is quite a difference in the ways we deal, shape & motivate captive bred birds today, compared to the passage birds noted in text from the past.

    I'm the first to admit that I'm not particularly well read when it comes too old or recent books on the subject of falconry.
    I started by way of the classic apprenticeship way before the internet forums & affordable publications on the subject.

    I took a great deal of inspiration some 10 years after my being an active falconer when working with Parrots & marine mammals.

    And much of my falconry today is based on the specific species & objective application of OC.

    I have simply embraced the concept and made it more relevant by the way in which its implemented.. be it the timing & method of reward delivery or other.
    Marcus Lloyd-Parker

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandragen View Post
    Appropriate quarry, suitable open ground, confidence, mental attitude, born of good management, success at difficult slips, and so on, are all necessary for a individual to certain things on it's own accord, and do it well. I think the reasoning behind some of the new methods is trying to take any individual and do the same thing, even if it is lacking some or all of those things.
    Just to be clear, having re-read this:

    Your suggesting that a ringing flight can be achieved through conditioning even if

    "Appropriate quarry, suitable open ground, confidence, mental attitude"

    are absent?

    In my experience Ringing flights are dictated by these, not only due to the oppotunity, but the strength of the learning curve

    Does your comment suggest that Jim F's conditioning can out weight the power of the natural learning curve on this hunting style?

    Its one thing to condition a bird to ignor check in a busy field, but in my personal experience of traditional ringing flights the Power in sustaining this style and the motivation for it is entirely in the setup.. and unless all the necessary elements are either permitted of eliminated you are far better off going down another route (waiting on) since that follows the natural learning curves orientation.. ie dont fight it.. embrace it
    Marcus Lloyd-Parker

  3. #38
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    I'll be the first to admit, I have minimal falconry experience compared to others. I'm not even sure I fully understand ringing flights, other than what has been discussed and derived from this thread. I'm much more visual when it comes to learning, so if someone could show me a video of these flights, that would be great.

    With that said, I'm a full believer that by shaping behaviors and properly reinforcing approximations, anything is possible, within physical boundaries. I'm not saying you can teach a dog to fly. It is my understanding that that was the topic of discussion, properly shaping the desired behavior.

    From most of what I have read, and have been taught, falconry is all about getting the bird to do what comes natural to the individual you are working with, as long as the end result is taking the game desired with the help of the falconer. Many of the same concepts are used, such as whistling when it comes time to feed. Falconers are creating the bridge from the moment the bird is off the trap and food is introduced. Positive reinforcement and timing are all being used as well, the bird follows, you whistle (Bridge), the bird returns for R1 (food). Everything else that takes place, as far as hunting style is concerned, is up to the bird to determine based on outside factors.

    Now, if you are desiring a certain hunting style with a bird that might not figure it out on it's own, you shape it, as was posted above. Can this same style be found in certain circumstances, naturally; yes. Was it the intention, maybe, maybe not.

    If you break those factors down, quarry means nothing, it's just the intended mark. Right now I've got a falcon we are trying to teach to target a fake banana. I will change the intended target later, but for right now, a banana is the most unique thing we came up with. In one session, the bird has already recognized that to get it's food, it has to touch the banana.

    Suitable open ground is going to be a bit vague. You can fly in the woods, you can fly in a building, small field, large field, desert, as long as it was compatible with what you were trying to accomplish.

    Confidence can be trained, we do it all the time. Some birds get it on their own accord, and some need baggies. You could also reinforce the effort, even if the end result wasn't the intended outcome. Let's say the bird put in a great flight but came up short; bridge the behavior at the appropriate approximation and reinforce manually. Confidence can be lost as well, but can be regained, maybe not as easily.

    Mental attitude is going to be the biggest factor, sometimes it can't be overcome. However, to mark it off as a lost cause immediately, may be foolish. Some individuals have different motivators. You take an individual that isn't food motivated, you could say it has a poor mental attitude as it doesn't want your reinforcement. The problem was that you weren't reinforcing at all.

    I think shaping can surely out way natural learning, as that's only another method of shaping. However, it's going to take some work on the trainer's behalf, and how much work do you want to put in? You're last statement is dead on, why fight it, if you don't have to.

    As far as my subject targeting fake bananas, it's as nuts as it sounds. I've already decided how much work I want to put into this behavior, and if it doesn't pan out, I'll turn it in great falconry bird. It's all about how much work do you want to invest.
    -Oliver Connor
    "Live a life uncommon."

  4. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerkin View Post
    The problem with theses so termed "new methods" is that they are not new, but they are suggested by people who might be "new" to falconry or at least do not have a grasp of its many different styles.

    Thus the interpretation of the relevance is lost to those who are already great falconers, and will quickly see through the science & write the whole lot off as garbage.

    The fault is not in the modern approach, but in the connection between it and those that can apply it species specifically..

    I think a lot of these dead ends come from the geeks trying to apply the science in a broad spectrum fashion.. in some cases to try & fit in to groups when they lack any real hands on.

    Hi Marcus,

    I believe, ever more so, that falconry is an art rather than a science, and would always encourage anyone who likes to take a scientific approach to keep it as fluid as possible.
    Attempting to lay down an ABCDEFG, step-by-step, formulaic description of how to achieve anything in falconry, as attractive as it may be, fails to grasp the fundamental 'art', and whilst there may be occasions when a hawk overcomes all of the obstacles created by the falconer and becomes successful, that success is inevitably and perversely attributed to one or more of the obstacles, as the falconer, so focussed on the formula, fails to recognise that it came about in spite of, rather than because of his pet project.

    Ringing flights are simply a variation on direct pursuit, that come about by the quarry's climbing efforts to avoid capture, and the hawk's utter confidence in its ability to get the better of it. They vary according to the ability of the quarry and the hawk/s pursuing it, the terrain, and the weather (and of course to the type of hawk and its physical capabilities and preferences).

    I've often commented that physical fitness in a hawk, despite being a requirement for the best flights, is of little consequence if a hawk lacks confidence or mental fortitude. To some degree this can be overcome, perhaps with the use of a make-hawk, but in my opinion the best hawks enjoy a progressive development without serious interruption.

    I'm sure you're very well aware of all this, but as I say, it's very easy to be sidetracked by prescriptive formulas, as I've seen all too often.
    I hear things like "I need to stoop my merlin 100 times for the next week, to get it fit enough for these larks". No I think, you needed to take easy, then progressively more difficult larks, to instil the notion in the merlins mind that no lark is beyond its powers, but now, I'm afraid, you've missed the boat.

    Best wishes,

    Tony.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hunner View Post
    Well stated Tony!
    Thanks Allen,

    although I must say I'm feeling slightly embarrassed at sounding like an old grump!

    Best wishes,

    Tony.

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    Just a couple of notes here on Jimmy's post.

    First, I think when he refers to "habituating" and "habituation," he mean "conditioning." Habituation is a classical conditioning phenomenon that occurs, not an operant, learned behavior.

    Second, While I've on occasion reinforced (with a CR and/ or tidbit) missed attempts at game in order to reinforce the chase, science tells us that using conditioned, contrived, or extrinsic reinforcers to reinforce intrinsic behavior will actually reduce the discretionary effort expended on the behavior (in other words, reinforcing unsuccessful attempts at quarry will actually reduce effort over time instead of increase it.) The reasons behind this are multi-faceted and complex, too much so to go into here, but if anyone is interested in it you can find a ton of info with a simple google search. Hunting hawks that are in shape will be reinforced for chasing quarry because it is intrinsically reinforcing, and variable ratio schedules are what naturally encourage raptors to persist chasing prey even when success ratios can be relatively low.

    Anyway, just thought I'd chime in here, as I make a professional living using applied behavior analysis with animals.
    Dillon Horger
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    Ringing skylarks with merlins comes naturally to merlins in the Uk. Skylarks are the wild merlins most common prey item after meadow pipits ( another classical flight). Most trained merlins will ring larks very well. Some stick to it longer than others and the very best continue ringing fully moulted larks into October and beyond. The wild merlins catch dining larks very readily all year round but of course are blessed with so much more speed and stamina than our captive bred birds.
    Passage birds would inevitably provide a greater chance of prolonged ringing flights into the late autumn and winter.
    Although we have a fixation on the ringing flight, the best merlins learn to climb in oblique straight lines off to the side of the lark to gain height.
    My self and a couple of friends with 30 merlins worth of experience between us noted that the best merlins were two that employed the latter tactic. They both killed larks into late October and one right through the winter in a style that almost approached the style of a wild merlin.

    Skylarks by their very nature create ringing flights. The meadow pipit created ringing/ lateral mounting blights that are just as stylish in a different way.

    Sadly without access to passage merlins we are unable to realistically pursue larks all winter as they become too strong for the vast majority of captive bred merlins.

    Nick

  8. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dillon View Post
    Hunting hawks that are in shape will be reinforced for chasing quarry because it is intrinsically reinforcing, and variable ratio schedules are what naturally encourage raptors to persist chasing prey even when success ratios can be relatively low.
    I have hunted falcons on almost impossible quarry (and would take your statement even further to suggest that its possible for a bird to be conditioned as to be mentally invincible that it will continually attempt to succeed without any need for a confidence booster (catching said quarry)
    The better the quarry match the stronger this can be.

    I have also flown small accipiter species which are prone to problems (fist/lure bound) catching very little due to the quarry being such a challenge and have never lost that top end enthusiasm for the next slip

    As tony states, this is really when it becomes a bit of an "art" although i might claim less credit by calling this a method since I'm not much of an artist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony James View Post
    whilst there may be occasions when a hawk overcomes all of the obstacles created by the falconer and becomes successful, that success is inevitably and perversely attributed to one or more of the obstacles, as the falconer, so focussed on the formula, fails to recognise that it came about in spite of, rather than because of his pet project.
    I would suggest that this "method" is one more common than we appreciate and regularly takes people away from bettering their understanding of what is really happening..
    Some times nature finds a way to navigate the handicap.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandragen View Post
    As far as my subject targeting fake bananas, it's as nuts as it sounds. .
    You shouldn't find this task too difficult, the concept is similar to many aspects of Falconry in terms of a bridge.

    I've used all sorts of heavy aerodynamic non grip-able objects as a target/bridge when freefalling falcons.
    Marcus Lloyd-Parker

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smeagol View Post
    Sadly without access to passage merlins we are unable to realistically pursue larks all winter as they become too strong for the vast majority of captive bred merlins.
    Can I ask how much of a significance is the learning curve in sustaining the Merlins willingness to ring.

    I have flown a number of passage Merlins & found them very much fixed in employing technique rather than a use of full power much the same as passage accipiters using sneak attacks & refusing more challenging slips.

    Are these Merlins you speak of really lacking in power, or are they just wising up to the survival learning curve?
    Marcus Lloyd-Parker

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerkin View Post
    Can I ask how much of a significance is the learning curve in sustaining the Merlins willingness to ring.

    I have flown a number of passage Merlins & found them very much fixed in employing technique rather than a use of full power much the same as passage accipiters using sneak attacks & refusing more challenging slips.

    Are these Merlins you speak of really lacking in power, or are they just wising up to the survival learning curve?
    I have friends who have flown passage merlins at skylarks, and as history bears out, they are not necessarily to be preferred to eyasses, hacked or unhacked, for the very reason you hint at.
    In a similar vein, few intermewed merlins have as much potential for the ringing flights at skylarks, not for any physical reason, but because of their changed mentality.

    Best wishes,

    Tony.

  11. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerkin View Post
    Can I ask how much of a significance is the learning curve in sustaining the Merlins willingness to ring.

    Marcus,

    I have flown a number of passage Merlins & found them very much fixed in employing technique rather than a use of full power much the same as passage accipiters using sneak attacks & refusing more challenging slips.

    Are these Merlins you speak of really lacking in power, or are they just wising up to the survival learning curve?

    I think to a certain extent its a bit of both.

    Let me preface this by giving some background.
    I've lived all my life in merlin country in the UK. We have breeding merlins in the uplands nearby where they prey almost exclusively on skylarks and meadow pipits. In the winter they follow the larks and pipits down onto the coastal areas in a local migration.
    The UK merlin is tied to larks and pipits. Without those tow species we wouldn't have a resident merlin population.

    In over 25 years of watching wild merlins chasing larks and pipits, and flying captive bred merlins at the same, one can formulate some pretty viable views as to their capabilities, and the main physical differences between wild and captive bred.

    Generally larks escape captive bred merlins by taking to the sky, and beating them in the air, most commonly by ringing up.

    Generally larks escape wild merlins by taking to cover as they cannot use the same tactics against an opponent that has greater speed and endurance and climbing power than they do. Often they don't get a chance as particularly on the coastal areas they get ambushed often by a merlin streaking along at low level. They often don't try and take to the sky but if they do or are caught out on passage, I have rarely seen a lark outfly a wild merlin that looked like it meant it. I've seen plenty escape, but hardly ever in the sky, much more often it has been a dive into cover after escaping suffocating pressure that the merlin has exerted.

    As an example, one year I had a very good female merlin that was taking on and bringing down strong ringing larks into early October. From then on our flights followed the usual pattern at that time of year of an increasing number of ringing larks being 'chucked' as the merlin quickly determined which ones were beyond her capabilities. Anyway one such lark spiralled up, and after a couple of hundred feet the merlin gave best and came back. the lark continued up bouncing up into the sky like they do in the and giving its familiar victory chirp chirp chirp call (different from their noted song). I called the merlin down to the lure and cast my eyes back to the lark now a small dot in the sky. I noticed a small rapidly moving exocet climbing on a long out run many hundreds of feet below the lark. It was the local haggard jack (ID'ed later with binos) that had been joining flights regularly through the season.

    After three or four frenetic out runs he caught up with the lark high in the sky and deftly footed it at the second or third pass.

    Most larks taken with trained captive bred merlins are caught on the ground, most larks taken by wild merlins are taken in the air. Often when a wild merlin brings down a lark in winter on the low ground the lark is intent on making the cover in the form of hedges, bushes etc. Commonly the merlin will get underneath the lark and cut it off from the ground and push it back up into the sky where it can be footed. The ringing flight with a captive merlin nearly always results in the lark going to ground if the merlin has managed to bring it down out of the sky. Wild merlins usually stoop faster and hook underneath the lark and force it back up. You feel for the lark sometimes, it can't escape up or down.

    When you see haggard jack after a pipit in a flight so fast and frenetic it is almost as if the merlin is tied to the pipit with elastic. You'd be forgiven for thinking it's a completely different species to the ones we are are permitted to fly.

    The two ends of the spectrum are extreme in physical power, speed, stamina and footing ability. Why would they not be.

    We haven't and have never had access to passage merlins and never will but I'd imagine the passage bird, if skillfully managed to retain at least some of its former horsepower, might fall between the two stalls but then like any other captive merlin it would be presented with a range of choices and management styles that didn't allow it to display anywhere near its potential.

    Ive seen a few passage merlins fly in person and on film and they have a different wing beat and speed than most captive bred versions but then again you would expect them too. It is easy to imagine them being easily turned off ringing larks given the limitations being in captivity places on them.

    Sorry if this is teaching Grandma to suck eggs (I don't your experience with merlins) and it has nothing to do with operant conditioning. I m not even sure what that it is?

    My self and my friends followed roughly the same regime in preparing merlins. Get them flying loose and onto quarry quickly, hardly any stooping to the lure, flown hard, fed hard on the best of small bird diets and allow the quarry to shape the falcon. Like most, we have all had a variety of different abilities in our merlins (or maybe just intelligence). Most were good, the odd one was poor, and the odd one was special. Most known training regimes will result in the same spread of outcomes.

    I'm all for innovation of any training technique with merlins. The wild merlins are such a different beast in every aspect that anything that allows us to scratch more of the potential out of our trained birds would be great.

    Opinions on the capabilities of larks and merlins are largely borne out of lark hawking experience at a certain time of year for a limited period. The struggle goes n all year round and produces amazing predators and prey.

    Having seen one merlin flown right through the winter on larks and I would be very keen to see that again, if a new approach facilitated it.

    That is a huge challenge for anyone and sadly a sight I am likely to see only by getting by bino's out and going down to the coast, But......


    Nick

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smeagol View Post
    The two ends of the spectrum are extreme in physical power, speed, stamina and footing ability. Why would they not be.
    Great post thanks for that,

    I wonder if you have had the same conversation with Greg L regarding tame hacked Merlins ?
    Marcus Lloyd-Parker

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smeagol View Post

    We haven't and have never had access to passage merlins and never will but I'd imagine the passage bird, if skillfully managed to retain at least some of its former horsepower, might fall between the two stalls but then like any other captive merlin it would be presented with a range of choices and management styles that didn't allow it to display anywhere near its potential.

    Nick
    Hi Nick,

    that's simply not the case, and yet demand for passage merlins for lark hawking didn't exist.
    At a time when passage peregrines were in great demand for out of the hood and waiting on flights, merlins, which were cheaply available from the same source, were being obtained as eyasses, and were normally hacked before being trained.
    I believe there was good reason for that being so.

    Tony.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony James View Post
    Hi Nick,

    that's simply not the case, and yet demand for passage merlins for lark hawking didn't exist.
    At a time when passage peregrines were in great demand for out of the hood and waiting on flights, merlins, which were cheaply available from the same source, were being obtained as eyasses, and were normally hacked before being trained.
    I believe there was good reason for that being so.

    Tony.
    Sorry, it was too late to edit by the time I realised I'd missed out a couple of crucial words, and have now inserted 'passage' and 'elsewhere', where they had been left out.


    Hi Nick,

    that's simply not the case, and yet demand for passage merlins for lark hawking didn't exist.
    At a time when passage peregrines were in great demand for out of the hood and waiting on flights, passage merlins, which were cheaply available from the same source, were being obtained elsewhere as eyasses, and were normally hacked before being trained.
    I believe there was good reason for that being so.

    Tony.

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    Marcus, great reading. Great you have seen and personally know the great difference between flying wild Merlins, and our eyass trained ones, even hacked ones. Your observation about the wild ones catching them in the air, and our trained ones catching them on the ground is the biggest difference between Falconry birds and wild birds. Same can go for other Falcons as well. For instance, large falcons on dove, pigeons, starlings. I would also say on a positive note for our trained eyass birds, we can develop them into great gamehawks, and they are a bit more flexible in some areas. I am an old Falconer, with old ways. I haven't been big on OC, especially with Peregrines who don't always like to be trained so much, but seem to adapt and grow just flying on game, just my opinion and what I have experienced. I also believe these days, we seem as a whole, to overtrain our birds. This can have an affect of less enthusiasm, possibly aggression, through boredom. Birds are a lot like us, doing the same thing over and over again, can help the mind to go idle. New challenges excite and stimulate the bird, and just like us, they want to do more. I have been hit in the head lure stooping Peregrines by 4 different Peregrines, non of them imprints. 2 were passage. I had my reasons for stooping them, but they sure didn't see it that way. They let me know what they thought of being TRAINED. Been asked if it was just miscalculating or a mistake, yea right. They knew exactly what they were doing, and the point they were trying to get across. Maybe some of the newer OC, is great, just haven't had much use to try most of it. The old saying, don't fix it, if it ain't broke, comes to mind. Things have changed, how many people use traditional jesses, old leather leashes. I do believe in the newer equipment we have available, and technology. Anyway, not sure how much of my jibber was related to this thread.
    Rick

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