Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – July 02, 2018
With Independence Day just ahead, thoughts of freedom come to mind as they should. There are freedoms that are ours for the grabbing. There are freedoms denied to us through no fault of our own. And, it is so easy to take any of these freedoms for granted. An occurrence during the past weekend scrambled my thoughts of freedom…freedom lost and freedom won. That occurrence is the loss of a superstar…one many of you, I mean it….many of you have known over the past 31 years. Igor.
Let me tell you about Igor, who has finally realized his freedom. Igor, the great horned owl, came to live at Liberty Wildlife as a newly hatched baby. He was taken from the nest with his sibling. The good part of me wants to think it was benevolent, but my evil twin isn’t so sure. Nevertheless, the sibling couldn’t be saved and Igor spent the rest of his days captive with badly crippled wings. FREEDOM LOST!
If you looked in the dictionary under intrepid, his picture would be there. He survived against all odds. But, not only did he survive, he made mockery of mere survival. He figured out how to live. He was indeed a fearless adventurer as he took on his role as an educational ambassador. He stepped forward on a glove with his partner/handler and was a model of great horned owlness…never mind his badly deformed wings. His eyes told the story to everyone in his presence. He was an OWL.
His intrepidness continued to the next stage of his life, a foster dad. The time came in his little great horned owl mind that his new adventure would be parenting. And, he did it fearlessly and with a vengeance. Outliving three of his mates, he was unafraid, undaunted and powerfully successful. He guarded his “off spring” undeterred by anything but the job at hand…”Raise them babes!” We figure thousands of great horned owlets have grown up under his tutelage over the last 15 or so years. Do the math. That means there are a lot of great horned owls in this part of the world that have had lessons in owlness from Igor, the foster dad of the century. I think he has earned his freedom. He spirit has made the leap to retiree, and it is well-deserved.
The only limitation that anyone could see in Igor was his inability to spread his wings and fly with his little charges. He hasn’t really been able to soar until now…and I would guess that like everything else in his long bountiful life, his spirit is gleefully soaring not only with all of the other owls he touched, but also in spirit with all of you who have had the honor to know this intrepid soul. Take a quick look over your shoulder…he is silently there.
If he couldn’t soar on strong wings, he could surely walk with intent. I still see him goose stepping around his enclosure…fierce legs kicking one taloned foot in front of the other (those of you who cared for him know what I mean) until I can imagine one giant step freed his trapped soul and pushed him skyward on to his next big adventure.
I am pretty sure there won’t ever be another one like him…unless his soul decides to give it another shot at this crazy old world… only this time there will be some changes made.
Adios you cool little creature. I will see you in every firework on the Fourth of July. You will be the epitome of FREEDOM finally WON.
Oh there you are…just over my left shoulder…yes!
This Week @ Liberty – July 02, 2018
Historically, the peak of the intake rush occurs on or around the Memorial Day holiday and, at the risk of putting a jinx on the operation, it looks like we might have hit the plateau for this season. We are still taking in over 50 animals each day (in some cases quite a bit over 50…) but the absolute crunch may be behind us. Of course, we still have the monsoon to go through (we hope!) but perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel that isn’t a train coming towards us.
As Megan mentioned above, we are all deeply saddened by the loss of one of our longest-lived animal inhabitants of Liberty Wildlife, Igor. I included a couple of pictures in this week’s TW@L as well as a short memorial video on Igor, I hope you don’t find it too repetitious but we all loved him.
Hope everybody has a happy and SAFE 4th of July!
To kick off the summer, Discount Biker Supply (in conjunction with What The Hell Bar and Grill) made Liberty Wildlife the recipient of their “Charity Chip” event. People were encouraged to purchase charity chips, the proceeds from which went to Liberty for the month of June. Joe and Jan were presented with a check for $2700, funds that are always welcomed as our food bill skyrocket in the spring and summer!
OK, we don’t have a lot of water around here even in a non-drought year, so it’s generally a tough place for birds that require some kind of H2O to be successful. Most of the “water birds” we have are waders and don’t need a lot of deep water, but as things dry out, even the shallow water becomes scarce. These three birds, the cattle egret, the snowy egret, and the black crowned night heron are all found locally, sometimes in low numbers, but they are all considered natives. The snowy and the BCNH will hunt things that live in and around shallow water – like frogs, small fish, tad poles, etc., and then cattle egret follows cows and farm machinery that stir up insects as they move, eating as they go.
(Look for 3 photos)
On any given Tuesday, Liberty Wildlife Medical Services volunteers get together for “Vet Night” when local veterinarians come to the facility to donate their services. If you’re an injured animal, you want to come to Liberty on Tuesday! Unlike human doctors, these folks have to be skilled and familiar with LOTS of different species, each with their own physiology and anatomy when they require medical care. Sometimes a bird is just a bird, but most species have their own unique problems when they are injured.
(Look for 6 photos)
A couple of new mammals arrived last week including this little pipistrelle bat. Bats face a lot of misguided animosity in the world – almost as much as snakes. This is very distressing since they provide so much benefit to the world! Bats eat thousands of insects including mosquitos every day which help keep down the occurrences of things like West Nile virus and Malaria. It has been said that one half of all humans who have died on this planet (no time specified, just half of ALL humans who have died on Earth, have died from mosquito bites. I find that an amazing statistic…
We also received a little striped skunk that had been the victim of a dog attack. Luckily his injuries were not overwhelming and after some triage and stabilization, he was able to be transferred to SWWL for further treatment. But his essence lingers on…
(Look for 3 photos)
A new veterinarian is volunteering her services at Liberty Wildlife, Dr. Felicitas Tantiyatyanon. She brings with her some concepts that are new to Liberty such as acupuncture. Last week, Bones one of our king snakes, presented a loss of appetite and since there is very little in terms of available treatment for this symptom and this specie, Dr. Tan tried a less traditional form of treatment that was in her medical bag. Bones, a king snake that was the victim of a shovel attack, is still under observation and we’ll keep you posted on the outcome.
(Look for 3 photos)
Igor was one of the first GHOs I worked with when I began doing education with Liberty in the early 1990’s. He and worked very well together and people at the shows frequently commented “That bird LOVES you!” as he sat on my glove. It seemed true and if I wanted a show that had no chance of going awry, Igor was my bird of choice. When I had to do a photo shoot for People Magazine back in 1995, I took Harriet, a very compliant Harris’ hawk, and of course, Igor, the bullet proof owl! We all had to get into the cockpit of a 757 with Igor standing on the thrust levers just like they were a perch. He never flinched and the photo turned out pretty good, eventually seen by hundreds of thousands of people. I was a bit disappointed when he became a foster dad as I knew his attitude towards me would certainly change, but this is obviously what he was destined to do. Over the next two decades, he frequently tried to attack me through whatever enclosure wall was between me and him, but he was a protector and mentor to hundreds of orphaned GHO’s, all of whom turned out to be the fierce hunter/killers they were designed to be. I will miss his company, his stare, his grip, even that funny little asthmatic donkey sound he made when he was on my arm. I wish I could see him fly now, perhaps one day I will. Fairfarren, old friend.
(Look for 8 photos) (click here for a short video slide show)
If the video won’t play, I apologize. YouTube had issues with the music I chose…
Posted by Terry Stevens