Free flight without weight management: Taking on tradition

Barbara Heidenreich
Presentation given at the 2018 Conference

Training birds for free flight shows presents a challenge for trainers. The trainer must make sure that the bird will be motivated to do the behaviors without flying away. Traditionally, most trainers have believed that a bird’s weight must be maintained within a certain range in order for food to be an effective reinforcer during free flight performance. This is accomplished by carefully weighing the birds and their food each day. In Weight Management in Animal Training: Pitfalls, Ethical Considerations and Alternative Options (2014), Barbara questioned this approach. She noted potential welfare concerns and discussed whether weight can be used as a measure of motivation.

But, would it be possible to train birds for shows without the use of weight management? Barbara will present the results from the first season of the first free flight bird show created show without the use of weight management. She will discuss how motivation was created and maintained for the various bird species involved.

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