Lesson 5: Glove Training the Ambassador Owl


In this lesson, you will learn how we train our owls to step up and recall to the glove from the very beginning. This makes a huge impact on later training decisions, like how much diet management is necessary down the road.

  • Our equipment list is by no means a comprehensive list any facilities use a variety of material for equipment including paracord, cow leather and biothane

    Keep an eye out for an upcoming course on falconry equipment
  • Some people believe that food should never be associated with bare hands, but our experience with owls has never shown any issues. We do note that problems can arise if a trainer always has their hand in a bait bag and the animal sees that as their bridge. We tend to keep a tidbit tucked in our ring and pinkie fingers if we are doing repetitions so that we don’t have the bait bag to mouth transaction
  • Your training may take some modifications, as we had to do with Ripley despite our previous experience with other species of owls. Avoid pushing the bird past their threshold, this can accidentally condition the glove to be negative
  • Flying off of the glove can also mean you have filled your bird up or pushed them too far past there threshold. When owls are in familiar territory that they have frequently had the freedom to fly from perch to perch without hindrance, it can get confusing if they are asked to stay in one place. For this reason, we never ask our owls to sit on the glove in the same place they are asked to fly from perch to perch.

    Use environmental cues to figure out what may be causing this behavior
  • If you notice your owl intently staring at a tree, it may be a good idea to move on to a new spot. If your owl decides to hop in to a tree it can be really difficult (and punishing) to get them out

    Added bonus: our session with Ripley putting on her anklets. Even with the grommet setters and a low appetitive drive, she sat quietly for some tactile reinforcement. This is a strong testament to her trainers' hard work and consistent history of reinforcing the right behaviors and exposing her to new sensations and stimuli

In this first of these two videos, we have Ripley flying off the glove and around the office. She wasn't particularly motivated on this day and there was activity outside the office. Often we hear from other trainers frustration when training in the mews that there are other perching options that the raptor is so familiar with and will choose to fly there instead. This is usually the case of one or a combination of the following: not enough motivation, not enough information and not enough skills do perform the task we are asking. As you can see in the follow up video taken the day before this first video, we need to consider all of the variables at play.

This was very early on when Ripley was learning to step up, so she was reinforced heavily and still learning. The smallest of distractions would easily derail her motivation.

A lovely, focused step up with Ripley. Even though she's not highly motivated, she still seems a bit more into the tidbits on this day, and Katie does a really nice job with her rate of reinforcement and working with her patiently.