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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hide boxes for owls and other raptors

I provide my owls with a hide box during the day for presentations.  The owls are visible to the public, yet they are comfortable, because they can hide and look out.  The comments from the public for this has always been positive.  They can see the owls, yet the owls are not stressed by being in view.

The hide boxes are two plastic flower pots, a PVC perch covered with astroturf.  I cut an arch in each flower pot with game shears.   I then sand the rough edges.  I put the PVC perch in the middle (with caps on the end) for the owls to perch on.  I then paint the exterior with plastic paint in camo colors.  I use local leaves and ferns as stencils to make the boxes appear more 'woodsy'.   I also put a heavy rock or brick at the base to stop the boxes from tipping easily.

Materials list:  Pair of matched plastic flower pots,  PVC pipe, (I use 1 inch inside diamter).  Flat caps for end of PVC.  Camo plastic paint, screws, astroturf.



Friday, September 9, 2011

Soft lure vs hard lure





Here are photos of the lure system I use for all of the birds I fly. Note the 'sliding' system for fastening the meat to the lure line. It consists of two cable ties (I chose red) and the food fastens on the cord.  In June of 2011. I have just started training a male wild                                                                                   peregrine that is am educational  bird.  He definately likes the lure.   I left him by himself one afternoon with one of the lures next to him. He started playing with an picking at the red part of the tuna tails.  So, I'm convinced (as the late Jack Postlewaite noted) that lure color DOES make a difference in interest and response.  

Friday, January 28, 2011

Presley Tall Perches

I've put together some photos on the Presley style tall perches.  I have used these perches for about 30 years.  I NEVER leave the hawk's un-attended on them.  But, the 'jump up' effect of these perches really help keep hawks fit.  Red-tails and Harris' hawks take to them readily and learn very quickly on them.

Presley  ‘Tall’ Rotating  Perch dimensions: 

Overall length  9 Feet, seven feet above ground 2 feet inserted into ground.  (one length of 1/2 inch round rolled steel). 

Diameter of top ring (inside)  14 inches, one piece of bent steel, welded to pipe at top
Ball bearing is inserted between the welded pipe and top at ring. 

Length of 3/4/ inch pipe on ring.  7” on top pipe, 8” on bottom 

IMPORTANT:   Ball Bearing at top of inside pipe on perch, packed with axle grease. 

Width of  welded locking washer on ring.  1 inch

Height of perch from ground with prongs inside ring:  7 feet. 

Length of tines in ground:  Center 24 inches,    sides   12 inches. 

Height of half moon from cross piece on ground,   7 inches, 

Width of Half moon at bottom  (1 piece that goes into the ground.   13-1/2/ inches. 

Length of bent half moon for prongs in ground.:  3 feet. 

Materials:   ½ inch rolled steel,  ball bearing, ¾ inch pipe.   Welded rings (2)  








Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Making Paracord leashes









I make paracord leashes and jesses. I have included photos of how I make the leashes. Jesses are just a shorter version of the same materials and tools. But, when I make the paracord jesses. I make the loop either of two sizes. 1/3 inch for field jesses, 10-2 inches for mews jesses that take a traditional swivel. I now use field jesses all of the time, rather than mews jesses. For the swivel, I use a number eight Sampo coastlock swivel. Which I change each year. I also use a steel trigger snap for fastening the hawk to the perch. I put a hair elastic on the trigger snap as extra strength. I change the hair elastic about once a month. When I tie off and melt the jesses. I leave at least 3/4 inch of extra para cord to melt OVER the knot. I hold the jess with forceps or hemostats to keep the hot liquid melted nylon from burning my fingers (have a couple of scars from that). With leashes, I make sure again that both the inner and outer loop are melted together to make sure they do not come apart. With the jesses, I coat the knot with NOBITE nail polish, to prevent picking by the raptor. Helps reduce the picking greatly. If the bird likes to pick at all of the jess, I coat the entire jesses with NOBITE. Helps a lot with picking. Some birds I need to remove the jess all entirely when in their mews. I just use a bronze trigger snap to hook directly to the grommet to take them from the mews. I secure the jess then thread the para cord cord and attach the Sampo coastlock swivel.

Materials needed: Upholstry needles, 10 inch minimum is the best. File to round the point of the needle. Candle and lighter for burning the ends. Paracord (550 is the best). Knitting needles to stretch the hole where the loop feeds through.


How I draw the loops is this. I use an upholstry needle about 10 inch long minimum. I dull the point with a crystal nail file (see photos) to a rounded point. I take the inner cords out of the material and save some for my drawstring.

For the leashes, I make them about 30-36 inches long. So, that means I need about 60-70 inches of material. I fold the leash in half. I fold the cord in half, leaving about one side six inches longer than the other. I then leave some for the loop, about 3 inches for a leash. Stretch the entry hole with the knitting needle. DO NOT EVER CUT OR MELT the entry hole. The stretching of the opening keeps the strength and integrity of the cord intact. I then thread the SHORTER part through the longer part of the leash. The leash expands when one is being threaded inside the other. I 'massage' the entry hole with my hands at the entry hole, starting with the needle, knot then the rest of the inner leash. You will have to practice with this part to get the right 'feel'. Some people wear leather gloves, to keep the wear and tear on the hand. I step on the extra threaded cord (NOT THE NEEDLE) to get extra leverage when starting the inner loop. I made 20 leashes in a 3 hour period, while watching TV one afternoon. I then slide the inner loop through, knot the leash about 6 inches down to hole the loops in place until I melt and burn them.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Creance for training

There are two types of creance used for training raptors. One is a weighted drag line, the other is a 'zip line' or 'slider'. I personally prefer the control of the 'slider' type for training. It is paracord, very strong and lightweight. It is on a notched piece of wood, with a slider ring attached to an 8 foot piece of paracord. I have two lengths and weights on the slider cord. one is lightweight for small raptors, such as kestrels and up to 500 grams. That ring is a simple split ring used for key rings. The larger is a metal welded for the red-tail and Harris hawks. The main slider cord is attached to two different T posts in my yard. Where the bird can fly back and forth during sessions. I have a ring on each end of the main slider cord to prevent it from sliding off. I've used this system since I began in falconry in 1974. I like the control it has over where a hawk flies, and how lightweight and portable it is for training.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lightweight equipment for kestrels


I have 3 kestrels, two AK's and a EK, male, yes, it is really hard to keep a tail on those guys. I've found the best way to preserve the tail is blocking them out with a 2nd perch to hop to.

My equipment is this: Size 00 grommet, thin kangaroo anklets, the jesses are a single piece of knotted, melted, para cord, about 4 inches long. The end of the jess where the swivel attaches is a melted hole (made with a large, heated blanket pin) where a Coastlock Sampo, size 5 or 6 attaches the clip through the hole. Kestrels are equipment pickers, so I paint all of their equipment with NOBITE nail polish. Really keeps the picking down. I use a size 00 vice grip pliers setter I got from Northwoods a long time ago. They also wear a tiny merlin bell and small ID tag on one leg, attached with a cable tie. The cable tie is inserted into a piece of plastic tubing to keep the cable tie from being pulled tight, again painted with NOBITE nail polish.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Talon Salon Coping Block Perch


Materials needed: Flower Pots (either plastic (for traveling) or ceramic/terracotta). Make sure flower pots selected do not have a ‘rolled under’ edge. This edge snags on swivels.

4-5 inch for small raptors

7-9 inches for medium raptors.

12 14 for large raptors (eagles and eagle owls).

Quick Set Mortar,

Vermiculite (soil conditioner).

3/4 inch PVC pipe, cut to height of perches.

Garden trowel, Garden ‘rake’ for mixing and handling mortar

Coffee filters

Sturdy long rubber gloves.

Astroturf (long leaf type)

Hot glue gun.

2 gallon bucket

rags

Instructions:

Take flower plot, drill or enlarge hole sufficient in size for PVC pipe to fit snugly through the hole, and be parallel with the surface underneath. Tape top of pipe to prevent mortar mixture from filling pipe. If the flower pot has more than one drain hole, use a piece of coffee filter to prevent mortar mixture from draining out of bottom drainage holes.

Dry ingredients: Mix mortar and vermiculite thoroughly with garden rake. Add water to make the mixture the consistency of oatmeal. Mix water small amounts at a time. The mixture should be moldable, but not runny. With garden trowel, scoop mixture into prepared pots, small amounts at a time to insure that there are no air holes left. When filled, use gloved hands to shape the top of the pot to a dome shape about 1 inch above pot with a ‘flat spot: about in the center for the hot glued Astroturf pad. Wipe excess off sides with rag rinsed in bucket of water.

Let set for 24-48 hours in a dry location, facing the south or west.

Cur a piece of Astroturf in a circle, undersized for the pot. Leave about a 2 inch rim of mortar for talons to scrape. Then use hot glue gun, glue Astroturf to pot.