Ice is a female snowy owl, born in June 2008. Ice came to Norfolk falconry at about 2 months old and has gone from strength to strength with her training.
Now Snowy owls are tough owls, with a naturally aggressive attitude. Ice seems to think my fingers are there for her to practise her bite on and my legs are for her target practise.
What is going on in the training of Ice?
I started training Ice to the fist, as with most captive birds of prey it is vital that they learn the recall command. Ice was always quick to learn, though very stubborn.
Building the Snowy owls fitness up was the next issue, this was done by demanding the Snowy owl flew further and further distances. Starting on an open field, I walked further and further away from Ice, over many days getting her confident in her flying.
What must be remembered with owls is the first and most important lesson, but often the first forgotten. Owls need daily flying and practise to master a new skill. It is not beneficial to start training then have a day off for any reason. Ice, being a snowy owl, was and still is encouraged to fly in very strong winds, rain and cold weather, though at this moment in time she does struggle in the hotter days, so I am quite grateful for the winter months rapidly approaching.
Now when I let Ice off, she flies with speed and confidence towards the middle of her home field. It is amazing that Ice fears nothing. Crows try mobbing her, but do not phase her, seagulls have half hearted attempts at mobbing her, but they dare not try too hard. One dog wanted to pick a fight but Ice gave the dog a fly by warning and the Golden retriever ran for its life.
I have extended the snowy owls training even further, as you will see on the video that will be uploaded to youtube in the next few days. Right now you can watch the snowy owl in her early training days, though please remember, this video was shot for my personal diary, so I can see how far the snowy owl has progressed, especially as some times there seems to be a rather long plateau, where no improvements are apparent.
This is my favourite picture of my Snowy owl to date.
Coming very soon to the Norfolk falconry blog is how I trained my Bengal eagle owl, you can see all six videos at http://youtube.com/user/Norfolkfalconry