[QUOTE=goshawkr;400567]I had meant to point out that as you establish trust in her that she can manage your behavior, the distance will decrease that you will need to stay away from her without a serious reaction.

Basically, aggression on a kill comes down to trust. She does not trust that you will not steal her prize, and she is willing to fight you to defend it.

Although I have seen a similar reaction in some of my goshawks where they were not happy with how long it was taking me to get the trade off meat ready and they decided to latch onto me as motivation to hurry things along....

Yes Iím convinced she doesnít trust me yet not to steal her kill, though Iíve never gave her cause for this

As I mentioned previously, none of this is directly tied to the theories of Operant Conditioning - but if you establish a Conditioned Reinforcer it can and will speed up the process because you can clearly communicate with her when she is doing what you want. Once established, the CR becomes a very clear "YES!!!" which is very powerful.

Im quite happy to try new , to me anyway, techniques. Iím reading Karen Pryors book currently
and will carefully look at your suggestions.


You leaving when she is acting aggressive is a clear example of that - its what would be termed a negative punishment (you punish by taking something away that they wanted - your presence). You are leaving her thinking "!@#$!@#@!! That is not what I wanted!!" as you leave, since what she really wants is for you to feed her.

I have found that establish a negative Conditioned Reinforcer can take the communication even further. It becomes a very clear "NO!!!". There are a pile of scientific papers on this concept, as it was the theory in vogue when Skinner developed Operant Conditioning. While it has been all the rage to focus on positive only training and positive only communication, the reality is that each word you add to your lexicon increases your effectiveness to communicate exponentially.

I usually establish a +CR and a -CR, and the goal is to never be using the -CR any more than 10% of the time. If I do, I figure out a way to restructure the interactions so it stays mostly positive.

One thing that I have found that can really help is to find ways to reduce the tendency for aggression and the severity of that aggression some before trying to work with the hawk.

For example, my previous goshawk had a really strong aggressive streak in her. If I knew she was going to be particularly aggressive, I would slyly slip her a small meal (15 grams or so) to take the edge off her hunger before I interacted with her. I would have to be very crafty to deliver this in a way that would not trigger aggressive posturing because I did not want to reinforce that at all.

I tried this but it usually increased her behaviour. it maybe my timing was off or I did it in an incorrect way. But Iíll keep searching for a better way to do things.

Thanks again for taking the time to make these comments and suggestions.