Thursday, May 30, 2013

Flight Cam PTZ Installation

Today was a good day.  Hein woke up and after breakfast said "It would be great if Ace called today and could put the ends on the cables at 9 AM."  A few minutes later Mike from Ace Communications called and said he wanted to come out and put the ends on the CAT 5 wires!  Hein said he's put on his pants and be ready by the time he got here.

Ace donated alllll the wiring we've used for the cams in the Great Horned Owl breeding project.  Hein runs the wire, then someone from Ace comes out to put the ends on, since that job requires tools and some skill.

Right after Hein got off the phone with Mike I called Alan Stankevitz, our tech guru who installs all of the technology for the project.  He was willing and able to come over shortly after Mike was done, so we were in business for installing the new pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cam for the flight pen, and for hooking up the new wire for the cam who's wire got chopped when the PTZ wires were run.

When Alan arrived he went to work doing some soldering to put the correct jack on the microphone.

Then we unpacked what looks like R2D2 here--the PTZ cam.  We took out the packing materials and put in the moisture absorbing strips.

We freaked out the owls by shooing them into the breeding pen and shutting the door to the flight pen.  Alan then put a new end on the extension cord that Hein had strung into the flight pen for the PTZ cam.

Then I went up into the ceiling of the pen after Hein removed a few boards and we bolted the cam into place.

Then it was Alan's turn on the ladder to work his magic with wires and install the box for all of the connections.  I went inside to verify that things worked.  We had video, but no audio.  Then Alan remembered we needed a stereo jack instead of a mono jack for the mike.  Thankfully we had a stereo jack so he just did a little more cutting and soldering and we were in business.  Woo-hoo!

Hein spent the rest of the day finishing up the rat-proofing so we can release live prey into the flight pen.  He removed the ladder to the hatch door and installed a fold up ladder that the rodents can't reach but us humans can.  Then he put metal over the entry door, the last bit of metal needed to keep mice and rats from climbing up and out.

So enjoy the new views of the flight pen, and seeing the owls up close!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Owlet Enrichment

The owlets, at about 10 weeks of age, are at a stage similar to human toddlers...they're into everything, exploring every aspect of their environment.  They are working on depth perception, eye-foot coordination, flying, carrying things, and more.

To help with their development, I've added a variety of toys for their enrichment, and they have been using ALL of them!  In the first part of this video an owlet drags a stuffed bear onto the floor and drags it a bit.  The Patrick (I think) makes a big haul: he got the large piece of purple fabric untied from the hatch perch in the flight pen and hauled it over to the nest!

Not to be so easily satisfied, after a rest he went and got the giggle ball from the floor and hauled it up to the nest platform too.

I have now added an empty box to the breeding pen, so I'm curious to see what they'll do with it.  Alice loves to check out boxes and tight spaces.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Remodeling and Updating

Back in 1996 we built a mew (facility to house a raptor) for a Red-tailed Hawk I intended to get for falconry.  Turns out I got an American Kestrel instead, and it was much easier to do the weight control necessary for falconry having the kestrel live in the house.  Alice lived in the mew for one year before moving into the house, so the mew really hasn't been used much.  Time, however, has taken its toll.

I am hoping to get a non-releasable Barn Owl from Wisconsin as an education bird, but we need to have a place for it to live before I can get the bird added to my permit and then get the owl.  Hein and I spent the day yesterday dismantling the old mew down to the posts so we can rebuild it.  The existing wood was rotting on it (much of it was untreated because at the time treated lumber had arsenic in it.)  We'll be ordering materials soon, and Badger Corrugating in La Crosse, WI always gives us great prices for our owl projects.

We now have a new pan/tilt/zoom cam to add to the flight pen so we can watch Pandora, Patrick, and Patience much better.  Before the cam goes in, there's a lot of wiring to be strung.  We started in the entryway to the breeding pen, where all the electrical stuff is housed.  Hein pulled off a board so he could string the wires and found the mice had rebuilt their home again.  It's made almost entirely of fluffy owl feathers.  Must be snug in the winter!

Hein carefully threads the wires (both a power cable and CAT5 wiring for the cam) through the slats and chain link so it won't flop in the breeze and the owls can't mess with it.  

He had to drill a hole through the wall of the breeding pen into the flight pen so the power cord could go through.  Here he is doing the splits while drilling.  All was going well until the drill started jumping around in his hand.  He had hit a wire for the cam that views the far end of the flight pen.  Oops.

So we went into the flight pen (all but one owlet promptly left as soon as we got near) and Hein drilled from that side so he wouldn't hit any more wires.

In the meantime I was cleaning the pens while Hein was working.  Again, this owlet didn't leave when I was cleaning the flight.  It was definitely giving me the pop-eyed look of fear, but it wouldn't leave for anything.  Not sure which one it is...can you see if it has a band on the right leg (a female) or on the left leg (Patrick)????  Not with those bloomers!!!

Hein will work more on wiring tomorrow and we'll get going on the mew after we get the materials.  Always something to do!!

Cute Close Up of Two of the Owlets :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Owlets Playing

The owlets seem to be at an age where they are primed to play...especially together.  They were running around on the floor, seemingly looking for trouble, so I put some toys into their aviary.  They include a fake lemming, a fake mouse wrapped with colored rope, a little stuffed moose, a big stuffed bear/dog thing, a giggle ball that laughs when jarred, a leather glove, and maybe one or two other things.

The owlets seem to like to play at dawn and dusk, and this is a lengthy video that shows you some of their play behavior.  They are learning to pounce and drag things, and probably even caching.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pandora and Patrick Take a Shower

The roof is solid over the aviaries where Rusty, Iris and kids live, other than one section in the breeding pen and one section in the flight pen.  The owls can choose to sit on a perch in the rain or out of the rain this way and the roof is easily able to bear the load of snow in the winter.

Here Pandora and Patrick discover rain and showering for the first time.  As you can see, they're really getting into it!  They went on and on and on, getting themselves soaked down to the skin.  Patience was still back at the nest, busy being the baby of the family.