Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – August 15, 2023
Silver Lining: Compassion and Collaboration Lead to Hope
Bear with me… today’s blog is more optimistic that it may first appear.
Today I take time to ponder, among many other things, how difficult recent times have been for birds across the country. First, they were slammed with avian flu. This spring became the direst of times for the California condor…a huge bird, easier to spot in trouble and to a certain degree, somewhat treatable if found in time. But we don’t really know how many other bird species were impacted from the ravages of this nasty virus. We are seeing a decline in many species that were probably too small and quickly affected to be noticed in time to be treated. Sadly, those individuals died anonymously in unseen places. And their numbers are just not known.
Then once the high temperatures limited the impact of that virus, birds and many other species, including humans, were impacted by the likes of the West Nile virus. Once again, unless the creature was in the right place at the right time and someone very astute could notice the changes in behavior the animal was gone before help could be rendered…and we have no idea how many animals have been impacted by this insidious virus.
In my efforts to look for silver linings or at least not be overwhelmed by the ‘badness’ of it all, I could see many people, institutions, organizations, foundations, etc. that have come together in myriad ways. Their partnerships/sponsorships make situations better for wildlife in general and birds specifically in this instance.
We are so very lucky to have partnerships in our mission with groups like Midwestern University whose veterinarians, interns and fourth year veterinary students have joined our hospital to supply skill, eagerness, and caring to facilitate the care that our hospital staff and volunteers so valiantly attend to 365 days a year. We have volunteer veterinarians throughout the Valley who donate a day each week to attend to our patient load, and we have clinics throughout the area who provide specialty procedures when necessary. This makes our care for the wildlife, that you care enough to bring us, some of the best care in the nation.
We are fortunate to have corporate sponsors like SRP who brings us injured animals and gives cash and in-kind services, or Goettl Air who after hearing of the plight to keep animals cool donated several coolers to the cause. Foundations like the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust who donated an unsolicited Heat Relief grant to help with emergency expenses related to the unrelenting heat. And, it goes without saying that we are lucky to have so many caring people in the area, who didn’t have on their agenda a trip to Liberty Wildlife to help the creature they found in their yards, but they made the trip anyway. And often they donated for the care of these animals in need. Caring and unselfish people are all coming together to make a difficult situation bearable.
The struggles are so prevalent and it is easy to see the strife that exists, and seems to overwhelm our world. Much of the media keep these images in our faces at all times with the mentality that… “if it bleeds, it leads.”
But I would like to challenge each of us remember a different philosophy… that ‘it takes a village’ mentality which sees beyond the strife. We may not be able to do everything… but we can each do a small piece. We can do what it takes to recognize the splendid moments…the moments where compassion turns into beauty, where coming to the rescue becomes the norm, where calling attention to the good outweighs the bombastic blasting of negatives…
And where at last the splendid moments rule. That is where I want to be. Will you join me and find a place to express your good? When we work together, amazing things are possible. I see its evidence every day.
This Week @ Liberty – August 15, 2023
Every other week, I try and find something else to write about in the intro that’s not dealing with the weather. Admittedly, it’s hard to do—it’s all I think about! I look forward to heat all winter long, and then once it’s here, I can’t wait for it to leave. Still, there’s so much I love about Arizona in the summer. It’s a different kind of pretty than what I grew up with; and having lived all over, I’ve seen my fair share of snow and rain and everything in between.
What I continue to love the most about the sunshine state is the diverseness—not just in plants, but in animals, too. We have such an array of wildlife you don’t see anywhere else in the world, and many you’ll find all over North America. But the most amazing thing about them is, they find a way…despite the rising temperatures and our own growth into their territory and whatever else comes their way, they make it happen.
Migration: What to expect in the coming months
We’re heading in to the time of year where birds have had their clutch(es) and are looking to be ‘single’ for the winter (not everyone, but a lot of raptors only get together to have babies and then are well on their way to being on their own again). For some birds, there’s not much more to be done. There are permanent residents who don’t venture anywhere but here. Others might find themselves short distance migrators, where they might head down into a lower elevation for the cooler, winter months.
The ones I’m thinking of, though, are those long distance migrators; those birds who are only here for a short time before making their way elsewhere.
Swainson’s Hawks are always the raptors I think of first. Every autumn, almost the entire breeding population makes their way to Argentina (and they eat a ton of grasshoppers on their way down). And believe it or not, those starting their journey from Canada fly almost 6200 miles, making it one of the longest migrations of any bird of prey.
Peregrine Falcons are usually the next on my list. As one of the most widespread birds in the entire world—they can be found on every continent except Antarctica—the northern population migrate to Argentina and Chili during the winter. These residents travel 15,000 miles, round trip, which makes their migration the longest of any North American bird.
One I don’t think of often, but think they should make this list, are Zone-Tailed Hawks. They aren’t a widely distributed raptor; in fact, they’re only found in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas here in the states. As riparian habituates, these birds of prey like the tropical climates of Central and South America. They tend to come here in March and head back down in September/October, and you usually won’t see them unless you’re somewhere near cliffs or water.
Regardless of how far or how close our bird friends venture into the world, it’s nice to know they’ll be back for us to watch!
Foster Parents (who aren’t owls!)
Despite the fact we have slowed down quite a bit with those babies fledging too early or falling from nests, there’s still much to be done. Not necessarily for us humans, either—our foster parents are still hard at work raising those kids that were brought to us months ago. And while our Great-Horned Owls and Barn Owls are the most notable (because of the sheer number of babies we get in every year), that doesn’t mean we don’t have others on our rehabilitation side doing just as good of a job.
Cholla and Flash are two of our Harris’s Hawk parents we count on to do the job. They both even came in with similar injuries; Flash came in 2007 from electric shock, and Cholla came a few years later in 2010 with electric shock, too. Unfortunately, their injuries prevented them from being released, and being an animal ambassador didn’t fit either of their personalities. They do, however, a fantastic job in raising nestlings and fledgings who are in need of a parent to teach them what it means to be a Harris’s Hawk.
Which leads to one of my favorites; Tukee, a Coopers Hawk with a severe left wing injury which prohibited her release into the wild. Like other Coopers Hawks, these guys tend to be a little, well, spazzy might be a good word—in a good way, of course. Which makes them a little more on the difficult side to be animal ambassadors, but great candidates for fostering. In fact, she’s our go-to mom for Coopers Hawk kids when their ready to be fostered.
Either way, we love them all, and appreciate the hard work it takes in taking in five, six, seven, and sometimes more, kids as they come in.
Projects Around Campus
We’re almost halfway through August, and projects on-site have been underway since the beginning of the month. Like everything else at Liberty Wildlife, there’s always something to be done. Sure, there are the obvious ones like the daily care of our rehabilitation animals and our permanent residents. There is the constant flow of intakes people bring to our door and our rescue/transport volunteers going out in to the field to bring injured animals back. Even hand feeding many of our animal ambassadors is a daily task done by volunteers and staff alike, yet none of those things deter those random tidbits needing dealt with.
In a fun way, it’s like owning your own home. You find a project, complete it, and more often than not, there’s another that pops up before you’re even done with the first.
Right now, those tasks include weed control (which also works as fire control), working on irrigation and making sure lines are all working properly, as well as ensuring we are conserving water during these dry summer months. We’re also working on building a new flight enclosure on our rehabilitation side (more to come on that!), and, of course, being prepared for any possible disasters that may arise (just in case!).
I’m sure there’s more on this list than I can add, but for now, this’ll do. I’m sure there will be plenty more to pop up before the month is over!
As always, thanks for hanging with us for another blog post. We love having you here, and we’ll love to see you in September when we open back up to the public (our intake window is always open for injured wildlife, rain or shine!).
Without further ado, here are this week’s notable mentions:
Henry hangs at ANDAZ in Scottsdale to teach people about Barn Owls (1 picture)
Emmitt (Red-Tailed Hawk) appears ‘headless’ as he preens himself (1 picture)
A 50-pound sulcate wandering the streets is brought in by the Tempe Police (1 picture)
A nestling Nighthawk makes a quick stop in triage (1 picture)
The almost fledged Turkey Vulture gets moved outside with a friend (1 picture – by Jake)
A “kettle” of Turkey Vultures outside Liberty Wildlife (1 picture)
Baby skunks are brought in and given fluids for dehydration before getting transferred to Southwest Wildlife (2 pictures)
Until next time!
Posted by Acacia Parker
Public Outreach Coordinator