Envision Less For The Holidays

By Claudia Kirscher

Liberty Wildlife Volunteer

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s we Americans throw away approximately 25% more trash than at other times of the year.

25% more food is wasted with each person tossing an average of 20 lbs of food per month into the trash. This also wastes money, labor used to grow food, transportation, water, and land use.

During the holiday season we will use 15 million Christmas trees, 38,000 miles of ribbon, and $11 billion worth of packing material.

There are so many things we each can do to reduce household waste.

– The 2.6 billion holiday cards sold each year in the US would fill a football field 10 stories high. If we sent one less card we would save 50,000 cubic yards of paper. Recycle all but glossy, shiny or gold foil. Consider E-cards.
– Wrapping 3 presents in reused materials would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. Options include reusable/saved gift bags, last year’s wrapping, ribbons and bows;  tins, tea towels, scarves or scrap fabric.
– Consider giving a gift that requires no packaging such as a trip or outing, tickets to an event or movie; a “help certificate” for a chore or ride; a donation in someone’s name to a charity; consider opening a savings account for a child.
– When giving electronics and gadgets, make sure they are rechargeable with USB or solar. Batteries just get thrown in the trash. Recycle or donate all electronics and batteries.
– Give gifts with an environmental message: a reusable water bottle, thermos, canvas tote bag, solar powered battery recharger, plant a tree. Look for post-consumer products.
– Recycle, donate or regift unwanted or duplicate gifts.
– Shop local.
– Cancel unread, unused or unsolicited catalogs.
– Switch to LED holiday lights and put all lights on a timer.
– When buying for a holiday meal, plan ahead for less waste. Buy foods with recyclable packaging.
– Use smaller dishes to shrink servings.
– Avoid using disposable plates, utensils or cups. Plan to wash !
– Start a compost pile.
– Making small changes gradually builds up to making a big difference.

Make it personal and be part of the solution !!

Audubon’s 122nd Christmas Bird Count Carries On

By Gail Cochrane

Liberty Wildlife Volunteer

Beginning on Christmas Day, 1900, a new holiday tradition was set forth by ornithologist Frank M. Chapman. Acting as an officer in the early-era Audubon Society, Chapman proposed a count of all bird species to be a new holiday tradition. Birds would be noted and celebrated instead of being shot at. The new tradition was called the Christmas Bird Census.

Thanks to the inspiration of Chapman, 25 Christmas Bird Counts were held that very day. Most counts were in or near the population centers of northeastern North America. Around 90 species were tallied on that first census.

Volunteer birdwatchers have since performed The Christmas Bird Count census annually across the Northern-hemisphere. The National Audubon Society administers the program. The purpose is to provide population data for use in science, especially conservation biology, though many people participate for recreation. As of 2015, the CBC was the longest running citizen science survey in the world.

From December 14 through January 5 each year, tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas take part in the effort. The data collected contributes to studies of the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, the data provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed over the past hundred years. The long-term perspective is vital for conservationists. It informs strategies to protect birds and their habitat, and helps identify environmental issues with implications for people as well.

Audubon’s 122nd Christmas Bird Count will take place Tuesday, December 14, 2021 through Wednesday, January 5, 2022. See the Audubon website for information.

Barn Owls and their Hearing

By Reilly Hammond

Liberty Wildlife Intern

The Barn Owl is a unique creature that has incredible hearing abilities. Barn owls are the most accurate birds at locating prey by sound.  They are nocturnal, using their sensitive sight as well as their acute hearing to catch their prey and can locate prey hidden by vegetation or snow. They have heart shaped faces which act like a satellite dish to collect sound and direct it to their ears, which are hidden underneath the plumage on the sides of their head. Their ears are asymmetrical as the asymmetry allows them to more precisely collect sound and be able to identify where their prey is. Due to their incredible capabilities, they are a very successful species and are found on every continent except Antarctica.

The Barn Owl has specialized features within its cochlea which allows for their incredibly high range of hearing. The cochlea is a spiral tube shaped like a snail shell, forming part of the inner ear which is the essential organ of hearing. The basilar papilla is a sensory organ that is structured of sensory cells and covered by a membrane. The basilar membrane of barn owls is the longest basilar papilla of any bird studied. This is significant because the basilar membrane and papilla are the first level of frequency analysis in the cochlea, which means that the barn owl is able to more quickly and accurately identify sound. The membrane has two thickings, the vestibular dense fibrous mass and the tympanic loose fibrous mass. The tympanic loose fibrous mass is fairly common and observed in other birds. Yet, the vestibular dense fibrous mass has yet to be documented in any other birds. This specialization might be specific to the barn owl. Another specialization of barn owls is the unique hair cell arrangement within the cochlea. The distal half of the cochlea has many curved shaped hairs which are extremely rare to have within the inner ear and are helpful in high frequency reception. All these adaptations are helping to explain why barn owls have such incredible hearing and have such a large distribution throughout the world.

The findings within the research paper, “Structure of the Barn Owl’s (Tyto alba) inner ear, written by Catherine A. Smith, Masakazu Konishi, and Nancy Schuff discuss the unique variations of their specialized inner structures which are very likely to contribute to the high hearing frequency. The results are helpful in explaining how well barn owls can hear and how they have become so successful and cover virtually the whole world.

At Liberty Wildlife, we have multiple education barn owls that you can come visit at our public hours every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. All the proceeds of admission as well as our gift shop go directly to our rehabilitation, education, and conservation efforts that we provide for the community and wildlife all throughout Arizona.

Kid Stuff

Nurturing Nature

By Carol Suits

Liberty Wildlife Volunteer

Late fall and winter is a good time to think about helping wildlife. During this time of year, finding food and especially water, can be difficult. You can help! Feed the birds near you!

Make your own bird feeder. Here are some ideas of how to use plastic bottles, bowls, boxes, milk cartons, tin cans and coffee cups to hold bird seed. There’s also an idea using peanut butter on cardboard cutouts or rolls so bird seed will stick to them. Be sure your bird feeder has a place for birds to sit. Also, if you need to put a feeder near a window, be sure it’s within 3 feet of the window or further away than 10 feet because if you place your bird feeder any distance in between those two points it gives birds room enough to fly into the window by mistake and get hurt.

Bird feeders are best put where birds feel safe from predators. Very important: Stay away from open and noisy areas and place your bird feeders at adult eye level or a little above. Have fun making your own bird feeder!

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Time to get outside and discover nature by having a scavenger hunt!

Check these things off the list as you find them.

Who can find them all?

  • Something fuzzy
  • A berry or seed
  • Two pieces of man-made litter
  • An animal making a noise
  • Something a bird could eat
  • An animal track
  • Something green
  • A spider web
  • Something rough
  • Something smooth
  • A place where an animal could get water
  • A hole in a tree
  • Something you think is beautiful
  • Something you think is a treasure
  • An animal nest
  • A leaf or pine cone
  • A beautiful rock
  • Something brown
  • An insect or spider
  • A hole in the ground

Science Fun, www.sciencefun.org, has experiments and projects you will like. Here are two examples.

Marbled Gift Wrap – Science Fun Make your own gift wrap you can use for holidays, birthdays and other special days.

Make it Rain – Science Fun If you live in the desert, you know it doesn’t rain very much! Make some rain!

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” -Rachel Carson