By: Carol Suits
Liberty Wildlife Volunteer
To: All Superheroes! (All kids who help nature)
To be the best helper to nature, you need to look at nature closely. Our Kid Stuff logo shows a girl looking closely at a grasshopper using a magnifying glass. I guess he likes looking at her, too!
Binoculars help us see things by either making them bigger or closer.
Binoculars are great for finding wildlife, especially birds.
Magnifying glasses help us see small animals or bugs or plants up close.
You can make your own fun binoculars here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uuoF-uRI6Q Making binoculars really easy way
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqJEFM7A_88 Cool binoculars
The Superhero Club kids will be learning how to use real binoculars safely when they meet in November.
Watch for wildlife
Practice looking for wildlife all around you. Take time to write what you see in your nature journal.
Go on a leaf patrol. See how many different kinds of leaves you can find. Draw what you see in your nature journal.
To make a nature journal go here: https://thegreenhour.org/nature-notebook/fall-nature-notebook/
Listen to nature’s wildlife
Can you guess what kind of owl this is? What sound does it make? Do other owls sound like this one? Check it out!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKv5qJfYkGM Why do owls say “hoo”?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezaBqCf0hv0 Great owl sounds
https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=261c18a36b65 (an easy one)
Pygmy Owl Could Gain Protection Once Again
By Aranza Blanca
Liberty Wildlife Contributor
The ferruginous pygmy owl can be found in south-central Arizona and southern Texas in the U.S but can be found south through Mexico and Central America to South America into countries like Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina. It resides in mesquite thickets, desert riverine woods, and saguaros. Its diet includes insects, birds, rodents, and lizards. It lays 3 to 4, sometimes 5 eggs and incubation is about 28 days, the young first learn to fly at about 27-30 days old.
The ferruginous pygmy owl was initially listed as an endangered species in 1997. In 2006, a lawsuit by the National Association of Home Builders claimed that the actual population in Arizona might be uncertain due to larger populations in Mexico. Following the lawsuit, the owl became de-listed and is now no longer protected.
However, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service submitted a proposal in December of 2021 to classify the ferruginous pygmy owl as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Population range and size in Arizona is less than half of what it was in the 1920s or 30s due to climate change and habitat loss. The bird’s habitat will become hotter and drier therefore affecting prey availability and vegetation cover that the owl needs for nesting, hiding from predators, and keeping itself cool. The clearing of its habitat for city expansion, agriculture, and wood production will significantly increase habitat loss,leaving them with no home as these owls do not migrate and stick to small home ranges.
In order to push for re-enlistment, a Species Status Assessment has to be submitted. This looks at the current status and outlook for the birds. Three factors that include representation, resiliency, and redundancy gauge the overall health of the populations and the likelihood that a species will survive far into the future. These 3R’s determine if there are enough individuals and connected groups across the range that a species is unlikely to go extinct even if random, unwanted events were to occur. They then analyze and evaluate several different outlooks for the bird’s population and well-being over the next 30 years. Outlooks such as if threats continue but don’t increase, if threats increase, and if threats are reduced. Unfortunately, in the majority of different outlooks the future for the birds looks dull except for in western Mexico. The likelihood of the birds successfully surviving is low or moderate if no further extensive intervention is applied.
With this information in hand, it is hopeful that the ferruginous pygmy owl will be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act by the end of this year. If listed once again, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service will pursue action towards possibly designating a critical habitat, as there is more flexibility with a threatened species vs an endangered one. Other strategies to increase the population of the ferruginous pygmy owl include captive breeding.
*Previously published April 2022
By Gail Cochrane
Liberty Wildlife Volunteer
Imagine seeing a triple rainbow, or coming upon a solar eclipse and discovering you have the special glasses in your pocket. What if you came out of your tent after a night camping and found the sun glinting on a lump of gold.
Seeming equally improbable is people and raptors meeting eye to eye, a few feet apart. At a recent Wishes for Wildlife event for Liberty Wildlife, I marvel at the glowing yellow eyes of Maggie the great horned owl. I feast on the glorious hues of her feathers, her mighty talons. My brain can barely contain the majesty of this creature, so near to me. This is a master predator, capable of squeezing the life out of a rabbit or a skunk with a simple flex of talons. But I am in no danger, and Maggie is calm on the glove of her handler.
Like a kid in a candy store, I move on to behold Aurora the bald eagle. On command she lifts her immense wings, where intricate patterns of feathers are held within the broad span. Her sharp eye pierces, and the curved beak, designed to rip through animal skin, to pulverize bones, verifies the power of this massive bird.
I will always thrill to a red-tailed hawk circling overhead, to the sound of the scream. Yet, here and now, a magnificent red-tailed hawk stares me in the eye, standing proud on her handler’s leather glove. Her ultra-white chest feathers gleam in evening’s dim light. The handler turns Aria to show off her radiant chestnut tail feathers. Overwhelmed, I babble on about her beauty.
This is the magic of Liberty Wildlife education programs, and the impact of the animal ambassadors we are blessed to have as part of our community.
I’m always overwhelmed in the presence of Liberty Wildlife’s education birds, even though I’ve seen them many times. I wonder what goes through the minds of birds, so superbly designed to soar high above us, sitting now on the gloved fists of their handlers and staring back at our fascination. Surely their brains have made adaptations to allow this transformation from hunters to teachers.
My responses to so much of life feel pre-decided, already sorted and labeled. But standing before a red-tailed hawk named Aria or a great horned owl named Maggie, I don’t find the proper brain muscles to process this proximity to wild nature. I’m struck dumb, I struggle to name the feelings I have. The spirits of these animals are not something my mind can gets its arms around. Yet they cannot be ignored. The solution for me is to keep making space for the mystery of wild birds in my mind and spirit. I look at the long-time volunteers and staff of Liberty Wildlife and see they have done just that. I’ll keep working on it.