Watching Like A Hawk

It’s Michigan in December, and our sub-tropical Harris’ hawk, Rusty, can’t spend all her time in the outdoor mews. We have an indoor mews, and Rusty has used it quite a bit. She usually prefers the outdoor mews by a wide margin.

In past years, we’ve observed Rusty interact with a television indoors, either watching and vocalizing, or actually trying to capture something shown onscreen. So I was thinking about enrichment, and came up with an idea. There’s a laptop I got from MSU Surplus for $10, a monitor I got there for $20, and a VGA cable (there’s plenty of those in my computer parts collection). Tim Schmidt contributed a hard disk for the laptop. I have Ubuntu installed on it. Then I collected video of predator chases and created a playlist of them. Pass that to VLC, set ‘shuffle’ and ‘repeat’ and full-screen, and Harris Hawk TV is now a thing.

The indoor mews is around the corner from my work area. From time to time, I’ve heard begging noises, calls, and sometimes a bate as Rusty tries to catch something displayed. I think the enrichment is working.

But it may be working too well. I often put Rusty outdoors for at least an hour or two in the warmest part of the day, even in Michigan winter. She usually jumps right to the glove for going outside. Yesterday, though, she pretty clearly refused to leave her perch on the indoor mews. That’s different. Well, at least there’s no fox video on the playlist.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

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