Hawk boxes (aka 'giant hoods')

Contact: Toby Bradshaw <baywingdb@comcast.net>

I like to transport my Harris's hawks in boxes, sometimes known as 'giant hoods.'  Boxes keep the hawks separated from each other, out of sight of curious onlookers, and prevent slices from decorating the inside of my vehicle.

Hawk box, openHawk boxes can be made of many different materials.  At one time I made cherry-framed birch-paneled wooden boxes (left), but now I make my hawk boxes from 10mm Coroplast (below).  The 10mm Coroplast is light (half the weight of wood), strong enough for my dogs to stand on, and can be hosed out when it comes time to clean the box.  The ease of sanitation alone is reason enough to use Coroplast.  A 4'x8' sheet of 10mm Coroplast costs about $30, and is enough to make a couple of boxes.

After squaring one corner of the Coroplast sheet (the factory corners are not square by a long shot!), I cut the sides, top, and bottom to dimension on a table saw, then join the edges with a 2.25" strip of 4mm Coroplast (yellow in the photos) kerfed (1/4" wide kerf with 1" of 4mm Coroplast on either side) halfway through lengthwise to make it easy to bend around the corners.  The 4mm Coroplast is held to the 10mm Coroplast with Goop glue, a waterproof contact cement.  Tiercel HH in Coroplast boxShort sheet metal screws are used to hold the 4mm Coroplast while the Goop dries.  Outside dimensions of the box are 11.75" wide, 23.5" tall, and 23.5" deep.  This is big enough for either sex of Harris's hawk (the photo on the right shows a female HH in the box).  The 2" diameter PVC perch, covered with textured rubber floormat, is set into holes cut into the sides of the box and secured with a bead of Goop on the inside of the box.  The center of the perch should be 7.5" above the floor and 8" from the front of the box.  These dimensions allow the Harris's hawk plenty of head and tail room, space to lift its tail to slice without touching the back of the box, and fit a sheet of newspaper to catch the slices.  These boxes are narrow enough for me to carry three across the width of the bed on my Ford Ranger.  A tiercel Harris's hawk can turn around in a box this narrow, but in general I back the birds into the box.  I drill 15 1/4" holes on the top and bottom of each side of the box for ventilation.  The PVC perch has 1/2" holes drilled in the bottom of the pipe to allow for additional air circulation.  VENTILATION IS CRITICAL TO PREVENT CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING!

Three Coroplast hawk boxes side by sideThe door is held with brass cabinet hinges and stainless steel screws.  Two magnetic catches provide a door stop and hold the door closed, but I use a 1/8" bungee cord wrapped through the PVC perch and fastened with a carabiner as a fail-safe against unwanted door opening.  A door pull is made from a 5/16"x1" clevis pin and a split ring.

The 10mm Coroplast is available in white, which is perfect for keeping the box cool.  However, white is fairly translucent.  If you need a completely dark box (not necessary for Harris's hawks), you may wish to paint the outside black (for opacity) with a white topcoat (to prevent heat buildup).  Coroplast takes paint well since it is intended to be used as sign material.  You can also use black Coroplast, which is slightly more expensive than white.

My hawks spend a lot of time in their boxes, so I have gone out of my way to construct them well.  They still look good after years of very hard use.  The bloodstains on them do not detract from their appearance; they are badges of honor!


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Last revised: 8-Jan-2005