Chuck's Falconry Home Page

Build a Coroplast Hawk Box For a Redtail or Harris' Hawk


Questions?
chuck.redding@gmail.com

6/16/2006
In 2004 I built a hawk box for my kestrel in based on the plans from the original Coulson box shown here. Original Hawk Box It was made of wood. Then, using plans from this same web site, Randy Kocurek and I built two more boxes for our redtails. They weighed about 18 pounds each. They were OK, but very heavy. I used mine last season, but it aggravated my already injured back.  Because of the weight I usually took the bird to the field hooded on a bow perch, rather than in the box.

In March of 2005, I saw Matt Mullenix's coroplast box, one that he used to transport his Harris' hawk, and didn't realize how handy it was. I now use and recommend a coroplast box using the design from this site, put together by Charlie Kaiser. Click the link.
Charlie Kaiser's Coroplast Hawk Box After the box was complete, I put it on the scale and it weighs about 4 lbs, or less than 25% of the wooden box! Click on the link and read what Mr. Kaiser has to say. I claim nothing original here.  My instructions are just an interpretation of his plans, although I did one or two things things slightly differently, such as the carrying handle, and I added reinforcing corners.  Incidentally, I had a brief correspondence with Ron Kumetz, who came up with the one piece fold feature of this box.  Bravo, Ron.  The folded box design is very clever and robust, but there are at least two viable alternatives.

Alternatives are:

1) An all-taped box using the following pattern. Click this link: 
Plans  This makes a lighter box, but less robust.  The large box dimensions are the same as the all-folded box, and is suitable for birds up to the size of a large female red-tail, or ferruginous hawk.  The middle size is appropriate for a bird up to the size of a male red-tail, or female Harris'.  The small size will fit a male Harris.  The only advantage to making smaller boxes is space considerations.  The large box is fine for any smaller hawk.  For my male red-tail, I recently (April, 2009) built the middle size, using white duct tape, white coroplast, a shovel handle for a perch, and a drawer handle.  Use strips of Velcro for closing.   Picture of taped box, below left.  The door is a third panel placed over the frame, which is the front of the box.  The front is cut out, leaving an inch of material all around and the frame is taped over it.  For the perch, use a screw and fender washers (small holes, large diameter) to relieve the stress on the single thickness coroplast.  Perch position as follows:  Small, 6" in, 6" up.  Medium, 6.5" in, 6.5" up, and large, 7" in, 7" up.  These are referenced from lower front corner, and you can see the fender washer where perch is attached.  An important point is this: when you position the sides of the box prior to taping, be sure that they are placed outside the bottom and top panels.  Understand this point before you begin.  You want the end panels to cover the sides, bottom and top.  If not, your end panels will not fit properly.  Also the more accurate your cutting and dimensions are to the plans, the better your box will be.  If the hawk will not tolerate the light coming through the white translucent coroplast, paint the outside black, then white again with a separate coat.  Unless you are willing to wait weeks for the smell to leave, do not paint the inside of the box.  I am not sure that hawks do well with toluene.  Cut plenty of 1/2 inch slots for air on the side, and on the back, about 3/4 of the way up, cut a 1/2" X 3" slot.   Cut more slots than are shown in pictures, maybe twice the number.  That will aid natural convection.  Another feature that I like is putting a 12V CPU fan over the slot in back.  Use white mounting tape at corners of fan.  Run it with a power supply, but use a 6V to 9V supply, not 12V.  If you use a 12V power supply the fan will be very loud, possibly causing hearing damage to the hawk. 
 

Taped Box

Folded box with view of fan - same picture is repeated below

2) A heavy walled coroplast box designed by Toby Bradshaw:
Toby Bradshaw Hawk Box


From Toby Bradshaw's web site - a tiercel Harris's in a heavy wall coroplast box.


Note: A small box for a kestrel or merlin should be weighted, with maybe two pounds at the bottom of box.  Perhaps a series of fishing weights taped in place inside.  Otherwise the resulting box would may so light that if you set it by your car, the wind could blow it away with your hawk in it. If not weighted, I would stick to the Coulson's original wood plans. The box is heavy enough to be solid and not blow away, but easily carried to the field. A wooden box should last forever, and is less susceptible to impact damage. Finally wood is opaque. My two kestrels would not tolerate the tiniest amount of light. Even wood, with the seams sealed, the box placed in a dark closet with a blanket over it (but ventilated) was too much light for any extended time. When I took a bird hunting I would throw a blanket over the box, which would help for the few minutes drive.


Folded Box Instructions:

Before starting, click on this link and print. Charlie Kaiser's Plans
Also, here are more detailed plans based on the dimensions of the original Coulson boxes. Detailed box plans
The two sizes are for a very large female red-tail, and a box for Harris's and average sized red-tails.  The only downside to the large box is bulkiness, a consideration in a vehicle.   The instructions below refer to the very large box, so adjust if you are making a box for smaller hawk.

Materials:
8' X 4' Sheet of Coroplast -
3/16" Thick
Light Weight Utility Knife or Xacto Knife
Contact or Barge's Cement
Felt Marker
Measuring Tape
Straight Edge
Good Scissors
Package Wrapping Tape
Long Strips of Velcro
1" Wooden Dowel Cut 12" Long, and wrapped with sisal rope or astroturf (this is the perch)
1/4" X 3/4" Long Round Head Wood Screw
1/4" Fender Washers (have small hole, but large washer)

Before You Start:
White Coroplast is translucent, so if your bird will not tolerate the light, then you may have to paint the box. Whatever color paint you use, it needs to be opaque, and a finish coat of white will keep the box cooler. According to Toby Bradshaw, Harris' hawks do not mind the light coming in. So far my redtail has no problem at all with the light. You can do the painting after.  Always paint outside of box, so hawk is not exposed to fumes.

From Coroplast's web site:
Q: Is it possible to paint on Coroplast®?

A: Krylon Fusion® Spray Paint for Plastics will provide a thin durable layer. Follow the manufactures directions for application of the spray paint. Brushes and rollers are not recommended for direct application of paints to Coroplast® because the paint layer is too thick and can easily peel and delaminate. For art projects you may use brushed application of compatible paints on top of the "primer"/ base layer of the Krylon Fusion® Spray Paint for Plastics.


Instructions:

Cut 1' off the end of the Coroplast sheet to make it 7' X 4'. Keep this as it might come in handy especially if you have a bird smaller than a female RT. Look at the plans.
Mark your large Coroplast sheet with marker, preferably washable, not permanent. The big squares are 2' X 2'. The small squares are 1' X 1'. The tabs are 3" and the frame aroung the door can be 2". The dotted lines are to be cut just halfway through with your utility knife. Practice on a scrap piece. The solid lines will be cut completely through with scissors. Then cut solid lines with scissors, and the dotted lines carefully with utility knife just halfway through. These are the fold lines.

Fold into a box, which will be 2' X 2' X 1'.
Use the tape to hold into place. Use the cement to glue panels together from inside of box. You can use extra material to reinforce edges.

The previous dimensions result in a box which is ample for a big female RT or gos, but I keep a tiercel RT in mine.

Use at least two strips of Velcro to keep door closed. Four wouldn't hurt.

For a perch, mount the 12" dowel pin 6.5" back from the door and 6.5" from bottom of box.  7" and 7" for a very large female RT.  Use fender washers on both inside and outside of the wall so that the washers are squeezing the wall rather than having the perch and hawk hang from the screw. This means that the the screws must be fairly tight.

Cut a slot 3" X 3/4" wide in upper part of the back panel. I put a 12V CPU fan over this to exhaust the air. To mount a CPU fan, put mounting tape on the corners of the fan, and center it on the slot. You will need a power supply, or a 12V socket for your car. If you want to know what I did, send me an email.

Cut some other slots, low on the side for ventilation.

Install some kind of handle on top to carry the box. I use a drawer handle that is comfortable for my hand. Since the top is single layer, you might want to cement in a square of coroplast under the handle. Or you can use rope handles like Charlie Kaiser does.

Toby Bradshaw puts a bungee cord all the way around his box to keep the door secured, in addition to his door closers.

Note: This should be common sense, but be very careful about leaving a box in the sun, or anyplace where CO fumes can collect. I have read that Harris's hawks are particularly vulnerable.  Also, the CPU fan keeps air fresh and should help remove body heat, but is in no way a real cooling system. Keep hawk and box in cool, shaded environment at all times.

Finished box. Front view displaying velcro latches, perch, handle, and at corners, bumpers made of coroplast.

Back view of box showing 12V CPU fan installed for ventilation and removal of body heat.

Email with questions.
cisco@virtualvideo.cc