It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update as I’ve been having a lot of trouble getting Jebe to jump. The first two weeks I had her she steadily dropped weight but refused to jump. Her interest in retrospect was a parabola: not interested when she was high in weight, then very interested (rowing her wings, leaning as far as she could) but refused to jump (even for a full quail on the fist), then a decrease in interest. She showed a similar decrease of interest in the dogs, with full-spread wings trying to intimidate them at first grading into sitting on the fist, seeming to not care if they were there over the course of weight drop.
I got worried she was getting to low when she hit 800g (she was trapped at 1200g), but she didn’t show any signs of being dangerously low (almond eyes, lethargic, etc). She had a razor-thin keel and after talking to Howard and Cody, we decided that I’d somehow missed the jump weight and she was too low. Cody said later he suspected she was only a few hours to a few days from being so low I’d lose her. That happened right before I had to leave for a work conference, so I started feeding her twice a day to bring her weight up and get her out of the low-weight danger zone.
I had my wife Sarah feed Jebe off the lure while I was gone (US federal and Arkansas state law allow non-falconers to care for a falconry bird for up to 45 days) and she was back up to 1000g when I got back a six days later. She was also familiar with the lure, and even though she still refused the fist would hit the lure with vigor at 30′ outside on the creance. I tried to use this familiarity to my advantage by putting a fully garnished lure in the fist, but she refused it. As soon as the lure was swinging or on the ground she rocketed off the perch.
So I started trying to get Jebe to jump again as if I hadn’t worked her at all. She didn’t show interest at 1000g, so I started dropping her slowly, feeding her enough so she shed 10-20g per night. At 960g I offered her a full quail. She jumped and beat her wings, but one foot would hang on to the perch. She’d swing towards the ground with one foot still gripping the perch and have to flap to reset. She did that four times before finally jumping to the fist.
The following day, which was Thanksgiving, I cut the turkey giblets into tidbits (so Jebe could have a Thanksgiving too) and she jumped to the fist for them with no hesitation. I don’t know why she had such a hard time breaking through the mental barrier to jump.
The day after the initial jump, I her moved outside and she came 5′ to the fist for a tidbit. I gradually increased the distance, curious about where she’d balk, and got to 30′ (the end of the creance) by the end of the session. All of the flying was upwind against a 20 mph wind. I finished training with the body of a quail (sans wings, legs, head) on the lure and she hit it hard midair. Overall her response was good, but not instant, though considering how long she took to jump I’m really happy with it.
Training proceeded quickly after that. Within four days I took her to a baseball field on the 100′ creance. She came instantly for the first tidbit at that distance and then consistently launched before I turned and whistled (see a video of her second flight).
She obviously learned the game, so I decided to free fly her. I don’t have a lot of daylight after work during the weeks, so cut her loose in our neighborhood. She immediately flew to the top of a light pole. Jebe refused to come for tidbits from that high perch, which isn’t surprising since I hadn’t free flown her before, but she did come down to the lure. I’d planned on flying her this weekend, but we had a warm spell and she didn’t lose weight as quickly as I’d thought. She’s was at 1040g this morning, which is higher than I’d be comfortable with. Hopefully she’ll lose enough weight by this afternoon that I can take her out to the woods to chase some rabbits, but if not I’ll try again tomorrow.