Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – December 19, 2023
Humans Cause Most Injuries to Wildlife; Good News is — That’s Fixable!
A recent Washington Post featured information from an article found in the Journal of Biological Conservation. The article focused on a broad study of wildlife rehabilitation groups in the U.S. and Canada relative to the reasons animals were brought in for care. The study covered information on over 1000 species from 674,320 different records from 94 different wildlife centers between 1975 and 2019. It comes as no surprise to me that over 40% of these cases were determined to be caused by negative impact with human interactions. Vehicle collisions, fishing related, building collision, predation, poisons and human caused climate change issues like heat stress die-offs and weather extremes topped the list.
These are similar to our own experience. The causes for intake are very similar, but results diverge from there. The main difference that we see from that in the study, is in the rate of animals returned to the wild rate. In the study around 32.5% of animals were later released back into the wild. Our return rate at Liberty Wildlife varies from 45 to 57% each year.
The take-aways here start with basics. At Liberty Wildlife our many years of experience seems to count. Our veterinary care is beyond the pale. Our founding veterinarian, Dr. Kathy Orr, was a pioneer in the world of rehabilitation. Our current lead veterinarian, Dr. Stephanie Lamb is a board certified avian veterinarian with a plethora of experience and the remarkable ability to bring it into the practice all of the time. Building on this professionalism, we have recently partnered with Midwestern University Veterinary School, adding Dr. Alex Goe and Intern Dr. Jesse Bautista, who bring their vast experience with exotic animals and their fourth-year students from Midwestern to assist in the case load which is plentiful and diverse. Not only are these students getting a great education, they are also getting unusually practiced in dealing with wildlife. That means that in the future, more veterinarians in regular practices will be able to help the public until an experienced rehabber can take over. And that time period is precious… it’s time to “fix-up” an injured or ill animal in need….precious time that could mean the difference from ultimately being released into the wild….or not.
When I read articles like this one, I automatically start comparing and pondering. In my regular blog, I am basically writing to an audience, you, who clearly cares about nature and the natural world. So, when I read about the negative impacts that humans have on wildlife, I have to stop and realize that you are not the people who are causing these problems. And if inadvertently you do, you rectify it as best you can.
You are the people who care, enough to bring animals in need to us or to alert us of problems that you might not be able to handle alone. You are the people who make donations, to insure that we will always be there to help. You are the audience who support our events, who tell other people about our work, who put your money and your energy where it helps the mission of Liberty Wildlife.
If I haven’t told you often or emphatically enough how much we appreciate you….please hear it now. You are the human interaction that isn’t counted in the statistics from the Journal of Biological Conservation article. And you make a difference. We greatly appreciate your support, your interest, your caring.
Happy holidays to all of YOU from all of US….a great big THANK YOU.
This Week @ Liberty – December 19, 2023
I can’t believe it’s here and we’re about to say goodbye to another year and hello to a new one. To say there’s been a lot of highs and lows for 2023 is an understatement, but it’s a universal truth not just for us here at Liberty Wildlife, but life in general.
A whole lot of new birds have come through our doors with injuries that make it impossible for them to be released; they’re currently (and diligently) being trained to work on a glove and become new animal ambassadors for our education programs. From several Harris’s Hawks to Great Horned Owls to Barn Owls, we’re happy to give these animals another chance at living.
For as many as we’ve welcomed this year, we’ve lost some, too. Spaz the Abert’s Squirrel and Poppy the Opossum both saw declines in their health, and we had a tough decision to make; ultimately, we had to say goodbye to them both. Willow the Zone-Tailed Hawk, Skye the Red Tailed Hawk…older birds who were given another chance at life succumbed to their age and passed that bridge, too.
It’s never easy to say goodbye; we are, however, happy to know we provided them all with a second chance. Free meals, a nice place to stay…there’s something to be said about being an Animal Ambassador here at Liberty Wildlife.
So cheers, to all those we’ve gained and all those we’ve lost. And Happy Holidays to you and yours and to 2024. See you all next year!
For all us who volunteer to do education here at Liberty Wildlife, we all find our own vibe with what works for us. Some of us like going to elementary schools to present to kids; others prefer formal presentations with questions afterward. Personally, I prefer booths—especially the busy ones. They give me an opportunity to work on my technique (and by technique I mean my tidbits of information I get to give out), as well as talk to a lot of different people in one sitting.
For those who haven’t been to the Desert Botanical Garden, it’s a wonder to behold. Las Noches de la Luminarias is a yearly event, filled with lights in the desert to music and festivities abound. It starts at the end of November and rolls clear to the end of December. Of course, Liberty Wildlife has a booth, where volunteers hang with owls (and snakes!) to present to an always awed crowd.
What I love about this type of environment is the energy and vibe. People are already excited for the holiday; add in the gorgeous setting of the garden and a close-up encounter with animals most don’t get to see close-up, it makes for an amazing night.
I know I’ve said it before, but if you’ve never been before, I highly recommend taking a trip to Papago to spend an evening seeing what you’ve been missing. Tickets are still available here; it’s a great date night idea, or even just a fun family outing!
If you’ve been outside at dawn and dusk and happened to hear some ‘hoots’ in the distance, you may have figured out you’ve got a Great Horned Owl in your neighborhood. You may have even noticed there are what seems to be a few of them, calling back and forth. Maybe there’s a higher hoot than the other one; maybe they’re real chatty for a bit before disappearing into the night to go hunting. Well, if you’ve wondered what they’re talking about, I can tell you.
They’re getting ready to mate!
Great Horned Owls, much like most raptors, are monogamous. They will try to find their mate every year, and only look to find a new one if their chosen one does not appear. These hoots are them trying to find each other, and in the all sense of the word, you guessed it…flirting. Even though the female will tend to be larger, her hoot will be higher; the male, sometimes up to thirty percent smaller, will have a lower call.
If you’re asking why they’re getting to it so early, the reason is because these tigers of the sky (as they’re so aptly named) don’t make their own nests. They’re second cavity nesters, meaning they’re going to steal nests from other birds (like Red-Tailed Hawks) or, if they’re not being picky, a nice cliff edge or even a mound of dirt with some safe cover around them. Much like their diet, these birds of prey are opportunistic, and will find whatever is available in their territory and make do with it.
So the next time you’re outside, and you’re hearing those hoots, just know they might be some flirtatious calls to get those babies made for next year!
December is, notably, one of our slower months in the hospital. It also means pictures are, unfortunately, a little less, too. Still, this has been one of my favorite sections since I started the blog in September 2022. As we bring 2023 to a close, here are a few new ones I’ve taken to close out the year, and here are some of my favorites for the year.
Without further ado, here are this weeks (and some of 2023’s) notable mentions:
- Sirius the Chihuauan Raven in a sun trance (1 picture)
- A Western Screech Owl gets examined by volunteer veterinarian Dr. Reeder (1 picture)
- Duncan the Red-Tailed Hawk looks regal with the sun behind him (1 picture)
- Cardi B. (a female Cardinal) hangs in our aviaires and poses for a quick picture (1 picture) (February 28)
- Orphaned hummingbirds all hang on a berry basket before feeding (1 picture) (March 28)
- Volunteer Ceci hangs with Venus the Barn Owl an an off-site program (1 picture) (October 19)
- A twenty year old Bald Eagle makes his way to Liberty Wildlife with a broken wing…and those talons are something else! (1 picture) (September 26)
- “Kits” are brought to us where Alex does a quick assessment before they’re transported to another rehabilitation facility (1 picture) (August 15)
- Liberty Wildlife is graced with a gorgeous rainbow after a storm (1 picture) (January 3)
See you all in the New Year! Cheers!
Posted by Acacia Parker
Public Outreach Coordinator