Animatronic Hawk for research

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Presented By:
Jonny Poole
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Tell us briefly about your project. Is it a work of art or does it serve another function?

A lot of research with raptors require to capture individuals to put on identifying leg bands, and may radio transmitters. Raptors can be very difficult to trap. One of the most efficient tools is to find an active nest. The adults raptors will usually be protective of their nestlings, and especially aggressive toward large birds, such as the hawk or owl. They use this behavior to facilitate capturing other hawks. Essentially, they will set up a net near the nest and place a lure in front of it. The hawks will swoop at the lure to try to chase it from the nest area and get captured in the net. It is a very effective trapping method, but there are several problems that a good animatronic lure would overcome.

When did you start working on this project and how long did it take you to complete?

I started work on the hawk lure prototype towards the end of 2010. New developments and ideas have been integrated into a new design for the future of which i have started working on. The project took about 4-5 months to finish. with in this time i had to sculpt the head and body using a polymer clay. the process then ment i have to mould the sculpture and make a hollow cast using a fast curing liquid plastic. once the mech was put inside and the feathers were added, the rest was history. HERE IS THE PRODUCTION PROCESS VIDEO:

What was your goal in building this project?

Some researcher have made stuffed lure with heads that can be rotated with radio control. They do not work well, but I believe my animatronic hawk, would be a substantial leap in terms of trapping lures. The cocking of the head, opening of the beak, and for the future development i will make it spread its wings, then it would make it, I suspect, incredibly efficient in trapping raptors. I am certain that, if it was confirmed to work well, numerous researchers would be interested in forgoing the headaches of live lures and stuffed decoys by getting an animatronic. My goal is to successfully field test this idea.

Does your project help to solve a problem? If so what problem?

There are several problems that a good animatronic lure would overcome. First, we have to have federal and state permits to use a live lure for this purpose. The lures are usually non-releasable rehabilitated birds with some injury (e.g., broken wing). Getting these permits is a very onerous task due to federal and state legal requirements. Second, because the lure is alive, we have to provide food and care for it, and protect it from environmental conditions such as cold, heat, direct sunlight, etc. Third, Animal Welfare Legislation in the United States (which is even more restrictive in the UK) has led to many institutions not allowing the use of a live lures for this purpose without substantial justification and oversight. This has led many researchers to use plastic scarecrow lures. However, these do not work well for trapping.

What makes your idea unique?

Life-like movements are critical for getting an aggressive response from hawks. I know the current hawk has a long way to go but as far as im aware there is nothing like this currently out there? The use of scarecrows or stuffed owls also may induce greater disturbance to the nesting hawks due to low aggression response but repeated disturbance due to the researcher trying to capture them repeatedly. This is also problematic when trapping in remote locations; you want the trap to work the first time after hauling all the equipment in to the site.

In what capacity are you using bearings and what type of bearings?

The hawk used two different types of bearings. 4mm flanged ID 3mm OD 8mm bearing and a larger ball bearing 7.5mm (direct surface mounting) OD23.5mm hub from lynxmotion.

What is the most important thing you want people to know about your project?

with all the information you have just read above regarding the costs to maintain a live lure, an animatronic lure can save nearly £1000 per year.

How will you use the $5,000 prize?

I would love to afford to fabricate more of these and other projects that i have in mind. unfortunately i do not have the feasibility to buy the equipment i need to make the parts i require. a CNC mill or 3D printer would allow me to fore fill my desire to create other ideas. i love this hobby and who wouldn't want to push it further hay. :)

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