Part 1: Settling Young Birds
Settling rollers is an important step in the process of flying a good kit. There are different techniques and methods to doing it based on if you are flying the birds from out of a loft or using a kit box. My approach is to use a wire cage or pen and place it on top of the box or loft they are flying out of. I will usually settle my birds for about 10 to 15 days before they are released the first time.
Place the wire pen holding the birds on top of the loft or kit box in the morning. Be sure that you also place a water container in with the birds. Do not place food in with them. They don’t need it and anyway, it will interfere with the training process.
Unless of bad weather or I plan to be gone for several hours, I will keep the birds out like this all day. You can do it for 3 to 4 hours if that is all the time you have, but the longer you can leave them out the sooner you can begin releasing them.
While in the wire pen, be aware of cats, dogs or even hawks or falcons attempting to get at your birds. Scare off anything that wants to eat your birds. (Do not under any circumstances trap or shoot or destroy a bird of prey. It is an expensive fine to the tune of about $10,000 and up to 6 months in jail. For more information, read up on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act).
During this period, I will only feed the birds when I put them back into the kit box. The reason for this is that I want them to associate food with entering the box. This will help them to trap faster once they are released and it is time to go into the box.
Before placing the birds back into the kit box, I will place the feed tray in there with a full ration of feed. I will then remove one bird at a time from the settling pen and carefully positioning him in front of the wire bobs and gently poking him through them so as to feel the bobs on his wings and chest and allow him to drop into the kit box.
As I do this, I am both whistling and shaking a tin can filled with some seeds so that they can associate the eating with the whistle and rattle of the can. Later, they will enter the bobs on their own and rush the process when they hear you whistling and shaking the feed can.
Repeat this process everyday for about 10 to 15 days. This will ensure a proper imprint of the habit and the bird will know what to do when they hear your commands. Whistling and hearing the feed can means to come in right now to eat.