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  1. #1
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    Default Operant Conditioning question

    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
    "...with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." - Declaration of Independence

  2. #2
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    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/Fa...es/Page362.htm

    And here is a link to how it worked:

    http://www.netexpress.net/~okeefe/Fa...es/Page500.htm


    As far as getting the clicker "turned on". That took about two repetitions.
    Mike O'Keefe
    Blue Grass, Iowa

  3. #3
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    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.
    Audrey Marquis, Rouyn-Noranda, Canada

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike O View Post
    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/Fa...es/Page362.htm

    And here is a link to how it worked:

    http://www.netexpress.net/~okeefe/Fa...es/Page500.htm


    As far as getting the clicker "turned on". That took about two repetitions.
    Does anyone know how to find this info? The links do not work... would like to read.
    Thanks

  5. #5
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    Hi, I have found that, say a bird that screams, if that bird is intent on watching for prey to appear, anticipating for a chance to catch something, that bird will display the stance and silence of a predator about to pounce on something. Just the behavior we want so why don't we just reinforce that behavior. I had a goshawk an eyas tiercel that was just a skitzo mess. After an episode of trying to establish some good behavior and gaining a foot hold of positive happenings, I had just about run out of ideas. I took the bird out of the vehicle very patiently tryinig not get him going again and hoping he would allow me to carry him to the weathering yard without throwing a fit. I hadn't leashed him up yet and I was just holding the jesses A pigeon flew out of the loft across the yard from me and the gos bated at it and I let him go and he caught it. After that I noticed when ever I was carrying him to the weathering yard he was the picture of the best goshawk ever and I started using bagged quarry to step by step guide him in to expecting something every time I was carrying him not always a pigeon but usually a sparrow or even a mouse. Simply put they are very patient if anticipating.
    Tom Smith, Sometimes, someone unexpected comes into your life out of nowhere, makes your heart race, and changes you forever. We call those people cops.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Bell View Post
    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.
    Bryant Tarr
    Hawk Hill Falconry

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the replies - it seems that, once again, between my birds and me I am the slow one!

    Thanks,
    Ted
    "...with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." - Declaration of Independence

  8. #8
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    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
    "...with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." - Declaration of Independence

  9. #9
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    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.
    Fred
    "Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  10. #10
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    Thanks!
    "...with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." - Declaration of Independence

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Bell View Post
    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.
    Eric Edwards

  12. #12
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    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?
    Jeff Suggs
    Texas

  13. #13
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    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.
    Meridith
    "I've spent the better part of the past year as a multi-dimensional wavelength of celestial intent."

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zarafia View Post
    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.
    -Jeff
    "You live more for five minutes going fast on a bike like that, than other people do in all of their life." --Marco Simoncelli

  15. #15
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    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.
    Meridith
    "I've spent the better part of the past year as a multi-dimensional wavelength of celestial intent."

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