Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – January 31, 2023
Beyond the Numbers
Our end-of-the-year stats are being compiled and reported to our permit holders as I write this blog. But don’t be afraid! These reports are not boring! As always, they are overly impressive because of the numbers—which tell an incredible story. And there are just so many of them in each permit category that it is no small task to finalize the reports. In a later blog I’ll share details of just how many species were included in the 11,111 wildlife that came into our rehabilitation program last year.
For today, I’ll focus on our Liberty Wildlife Non-Eagle Feather Repository (LWNEFR). If you are new to Liberty Wildlife, you might not know what I am referring to…a quick history!
In 2010 Liberty Wildlife collaborated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 2 to establish the LWNEFR. It is permitted to accept, hold, and distribute feathers from all migratory birds (except eagles, which are managed through a federal agency in Colorado) to Native Americans belonging to Federally recognized tribes for religious and ceremonial purposes.
Beyond Preserving Culture – Saving Lives
In addition to the main mission of supporting the culture, religious and ceremonial purposes, is to discourage the illegal harvesting (black market hunting) of protected native birds for commercial purposes. Through the NEFR, each feather and bird part is sent free of charge to Native Americans, with each one representing a bird not killed and parts not sold illegally.
We have a unique program with both cultural and conservation focus! Here are a few accomplishments for this beneficial program:
More people are using our service!
- In its 12 years of operation, it has averaged 453 orders per year.
- In 2022 LWNEFR filled a total of 533 orders representing a 30% increase from 2021 when it shipped 411 orders.
- We saw a 93% increase in first time applicant – 260 new applications compared to 135 in 2021. And, we has 572 qualified applications overall in 2022!
An Impact Across the continent!
- Since starting in 2010, LWNEFR has shipped 5,530 feather orders to Native Americans representing 247 tribes located in 46 states.
- Applicants were received from 31 different states in 2022.
- The top three Tribes to receive feathers were Navajo, Hopi and Cherokee.
- The top four states to receive feathers were Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and California are no surprise, as they are states with the largest populations of Native Americans.
- Across the country more rehabbers, zoos, and government agencies donated birds and feathers to our program. In 2022 LWNEFR received carcasses, parts, and feathers of 124 species from 52 different donors located in 25 states.
And, what isn’t stressed in this summary is that all of this is accomplished basically by two part-time staff, Robert and Mare. They work all angles of the program tirelessly and diligently from processing and organizing the inventory to assiduously and enthusiastically interfacing with donors, with those making requests by filling orders and keeping the paperwork updated (all needed), to sending the orders out. They make it work and work to the nth degree.
I am very proud of this program and its accomplishments. If you haven’t visited the Liberty Wildlife Non-Eagle Repository on our campus, you must make a point to explore it when you are here…and I encourage you to visit if you haven’t been in a while. Come on back! A lot changes daily, and it is never the same twice.
See you soon…I hope.
This Week @ Liberty – January 31, 2023
Here we are; a month in to 2023 and we’ve taken in almost 250 animals in 31 days. It’s no surprise, of course. Considering our numbers for the last few years, alongside the increase in programs and people we reached in 2022, I doubt that is going to change anytime soon.
What’s wonderful, and what I’m most excited about for this year, is getting back to ‘normal’. While this is different for us all, for me, this means getting myself back out there. It means connecting with people at events, reaching out to new friends who are excited about wildlife as I am, and hoping to make a difference in those lives that come in our doors.
There’s so many we touch throughout the year, I wish I could list them all. For this week, I’ve got a few highlights. And if I haven’t mentioned it before, thanks for taking the time to be here, to read, and take part in what we do here at Liberty Wildlife!
Great Horned Owl and the Not-So-Nice-Cactus
For anyone who’s lived in the valley long enough, you know to steer clear of certain things. Your seatbelt in the summer (or at least the metal part that’s super hot! Stay buckled, Arizona!), doing anything outside when it’s over 100 degrees, and getting too close to jumping cholla (I made this mistake once; I promise it won’t happen again!). Unfortunately, not everyone heeds this advice, though we can’t blame our new friend for that.
Intake 31 of 2023, a Great Horned Owl, appears to have had a short lived battle with some kind of cactus. A battle which resulted in said cactus spines in those gorgeous, big eyes.
While we can’t imagine that’s in any way comfortable, the good news is, the spines didn’t do nearly as much damage as we originally thought. An exam by volunteer veterinarian Doctor Zoe (ophthalmologist) confirmed no surgery was needed as the spines hadn’t punctured anything that needed immediate attention. After finishing a round of anti-inflammatory to help with some of the swelling, this Great Horned Owl has been moved outside to stretch those wings.
Don’t worry; we’re keeping a close ‘eye’ on those eyes. And hopefully, sometime soon, those spines will be pushed out (or dissolved) so intake 31 can be released back into the wild.
Coopers Hawk Wing Amputation
Disclaimer: the photos in this section are graphic. Please be advised.
When Raptors come in with injuries to their wings, there are a lot of different factors to consider: did the fracture puncture skin? Is it broken in one spot or several? Is it close to a joint or in the middle where a pin might be set?
For one of the last intakes of 2022, this Coopers Hawk had a severe fracture to the wrist, along with a minor fracture beneath at the radius/ulna. While the radius/ulna might have been fixed with a splint on its own, unfortunately, the wrist could not. Fractures at the joints can be difficult to heal, especially in the wing. These breaks tend to callus and fuse, prohibiting the bird from having full extension of the wing, making it difficult to fly (and do it well enough to survive).
Thankfully, volunteer veterinarian Dr. Reeder was able to put the hawk under for surgery to amputate the metacarpus (think fingers). It was bad enough that once feathers had been plucked, necrotic (dead) tissue was revealed at the break, and Dr. Reeder was able to pull away the dead and unusable tissue. After cleaning the wound and taking X-rays to confirm no other bones were needed to be removed, the wing was wrapped and has been continually checked to ensure the wound is granulating (new skin is generating) nicely.
Unfortunately, this means this Coopers Hawk is now a permanent resident here at Liberty Wildlife. An amputation to the wing means survival in the wild is minimal; rest assured, once he’s rested and healed, he’ll have a wonderful role here (yet to be determined) to live the rest of his life in peace and health.
Hyatt Birds of Prey
Liberty Wildlife has the honor of being invited to different locations around the valley to education people on Arizona’s native wildlife year round. In December, it’s the Desert Botanical Garden; during the spring, fall and winter, it’s the Verde Canyon Railroad. And, from October through April, every Friday from 4pm-5pm, the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa in Scottsdale has a birds of prey ‘happy hour’ to enjoy.
And yes, you’re invited, too!
Different birds grace the crowd every week, but a flight show (much like one we do here on campus) is always one to wow those who join. Of course, there’s lots of bird facts to learn; Joe Miller (known as the ‘bird guy’) is happy to deliver it with gusto, and even happier to show off the birds he’s been working with for quite a number of years.
An hour doesn’t seem like a long time in the grand scheme of things, but Sonora the Bald Eagle makes sure to leave a lasting impression. Here since 2007, she flies gracefully between Joe and Marco, happy to find her treats on hand once she reaches them. And for those who’ve never seen a Bald Eagle up close, it’s a treat in and of itself. These birds are a national symbol; it’s hard to recognize quite how large they are until you see one up close.
And you can do it every Friday from here until the end of April. Any and all are welcome; find out how here!
It’s been a busy first few weeks of 2023; there’s lots happening on site, and yet this weeks notable mentions are going to run a little short. In my defense, we did have some surgeries and eye appointments to deal with!
Without further ado, here are this weeks notable mentions:
A student coordinated a group donation from his school and dropped off lots of supplies! (1 picture)
Millie and Marble (California Condors) soak up some sun and hang in their nighthouse (1 picture)
Volunteer veterinarian Dr. Reeder pulls a pellet from a Red-Tailed Hawk currently resting in ICU (1 picture)
As always, we appreciate your time and effort and all you do for Arizona’s wildlife. Remember we’re open for Public Hours on Wednesday, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-1pm; come see us before that summer heat creeps its way in!
Until next time!
Posted by Acacia Parker
Public Outreach Coordinator