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View Full Version : Have You Hugged Your Hawk Today?


HawkMom
09-02-2007, 02:38 AM
I am writing afater thinking about Dr. Pat Redig's article in a recent issue of Hawk Chalk about something called 'Captive Miopathy(sp)'. It is a condition when a raptor in a confined, reststrained, situation (such as imping, or equipment changes, or when freshly caught). The raptor struggles, builds up lactic acids in the tissues and becomes ill, even dies. I've always 'restrained' my birds each day I handle them. Holding them 'like a chicken' . They learn to tolerate physical exams, checking under the wing pits, lifting feet, opening wings, rolling over on the back, etc. I speak to them gently actually explaining what I'm doing. No, they do not understand my words, but pick up on my body language and mannerism. They never really like it, just learn that the slight unpleastantness of being restrained is not dangerous, just part of the human/raptor falconry experience. I feel that this has helped immensly when I do have to have them examined either by myself or at the vet office. Especially in the field. With the recent near death experience of my EEO from the gas anesthesia. I am an ever stronger proponent of handling birds regularily in this manner.

Anybody else practices this method?

Kitana
09-02-2007, 02:59 AM
It is something that I will certainly do with my future hawk, I've done it with zoo animals, dogs, horses and cats, and I would love it if most parrot owners would teach that to their birds before bringing them to my clinic!
(you know those birds with terrible beaks? lol I can handle BoP talons, but parrot beaks kill me!)

Teaching a bird to accept physical manipulations is easier when you master clicker training. Without the clicker it can also be done very succesfully, but the reward for the bird will then be the ending of the contact. «If you stay calm and relaxed while I hold you, eventually I'll release you». The contact itself remains pretty unpleasant to the animal mind.

With clicker training, you can make the contact fun for the animal, you can even create an animal that will look forward the contact. You first click for the acceptance of a slight physical contact, the animal staying calm while a hand is touching it, rubbing it, holding it, etc... Very, very quickly (and I mean VERY quickly!) the animal will itself try to provoke the physical contact, try to put its body parts in your hands. Horses will give their ears to receive medication, their face to be harnessed, tigers will present their tails for blood collection, monkeys their arms. You can train a bird to show you the underside of its feet, to open wide their beak to inspect the mouth cavity, to let you manipulate their legs while changing the anklets, file their talons if necessary. Hood training can be easily done the exact same way, by making the hood pleasant.

Captive myopathy is something that happens often in birds, and horses. It's one of the main reasons why general anesthesia is considered safer in avian medicine than physical restraint. But in my mind being able to manipulate an animal everywhere on its body without creating a dangerous struggling situation is important, be it a BoP, a horse or a dog. You would be surprised how many dog owners never take the time to desensitize their pet dog to being manipulated, all the dogs know is being petted on the head, so much as hair has difficulty growing! And then you get bitten if you try to touch the paws or the muzzle, and then you need 2 persons to maintain the growling dog immobile while a third one do the exam... Very bad situations. Great post Hawkmom!

HawkMom
09-02-2007, 03:19 AM
I've worked with parrots. I have a scarlet macaw now. She is taught to accept all kinds of handling, but remember, she is a scarlet, they have a reputation of being difficult and headstrong, even for a parrot.

One DVM I saw coming to the facility that I used to work at would medicate orally parrots this way. He had a nylabone chew toy with a hole in it. When we towled the parrot, of course screaming and such. I would hold the head and beak. He puts the nylobone in the beak. Then he would use a hypodermic needle with a tube to adminster the meds this way through the hole. I thought 'how clever'. Most of the parrots at this facility were hand overs from the general public. So getting some to accept any handling was a job.

Boy, the parrots HATED the DVM. Although he loved birds. When he showed up. The full 'predator/red alert' calls were made by every bird there!! Sort of funny!!

Kitana
09-02-2007, 03:26 AM
lol, yep the pierced nylabone is great, the problem is getting your hand around that neck while avoiding being bitten!! Or smaller birds such as cockatiels, small parrots, lovebirds or budgies, which are so quick and cannot be «nylaboned«! lol
BoP are so easy to manipulate compared to parrots, once you are in control of the feet and wings and you hide their head under a hood or a towel you can do whatever you want to. But yes it is very stressful for the bird, be it a parrot or a BoP, and for very stressful procedures such as large wound cleaning, physiotherapy on a broken wing or leg, hydrotherapy or blood collection, general anesthesia is the way to go. However beside these extremes, many manipulations could be done on an awaken bird without stressing it if they are trained properly to accept these manipulations.

FalconGriff
25-11-2008, 09:53 AM
For me its way the way you learn to hold the bird I have found if the bird is cast correctly so it is held firmly but not tightly and so it can't struggle, then it accepts this situation. As a Center owner I cast more birds than most people have hot dinners and find that for instance while jesses are being changed or coping once finished the bird is put back on the glove and released they seldom even bate often just rousing to readjust their feathers. I don't think its because they are used to being cast its just because its done correctly

Graham Stuart
25-11-2008, 10:24 AM
For me its way the way you learn to hold the bird I have found if the bird is cast correctly so it is held firmly but not tightly and so it can't struggle, then it accepts this situation. As a Center owner I cast more birds than most people have hot dinners and find that for instance while jesses are being changed or coping once finished the bird is put back on the glove and released they seldom even bate often just rousing to readjust their feathers. I don't think its because they are used to being cast its just because its done correctly
Correct mate if done right the bird just accepts it, done wrong then the bird will be more stressed the next time they are cast...Graham

Goshawk
25-11-2008, 10:41 AM
Yes I handle most of my birds like this my mom calls it manhandling:lol:, She often says I should stop teasing the bird:lol:, LOL I always find that if they get used to being touched and played with while your feeding them they are a lot easier to restrain and handle later on but initially I always get clawed and bitten until they realize that it really does not have much of an effect on me (It does!!!:-x) and hence they stop eventually, but till that time its 1 hell of a painful experience lol:lol:, but they then allow you to catch them bare handed open their wings play with their beaks an do almost anything you want, only raptors (other than the ocasional oddball) that I have handled that dont seem to understand this concept of friendly humans are Owls!!!...Gavin

ChrisGos
25-11-2008, 12:23 PM
For me its way the way you learn to hold the bird I have found if the bird is cast correctly so it is held firmly but not tightly and so it can't struggle, then it accepts this situation. As a Center owner I cast more birds than most people have hot dinners and find that for instance while jesses are being changed or coping once finished the bird is put back on the glove and released they seldom even bate often just rousing to readjust their feathers. I don't think its because they are used to being cast its just because its done correctly


I tend to agree with you Griff.

Kat67
25-11-2008, 02:20 PM
Ahh the joys of creche reared hawks:heart: I sit one on my knee or on a perch and either cope, trim, fit furniture, tailmount whilst we have a little chat and the odd song or two and alls calm and no baiting or panicking:supz: With Tula she lays on my lap like a chicken & I can do whatever with her, she has cream rubbed into her feet and a general check. Havent done it with anything parent reared here but im sure they'd get used to a certain level of extra handling.