Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – July 18, 2023
Creating a Wildlife Friendly Yard
In the summer, I switch most of my outdoor activities to the sundown hours. Change is good for the spirit. As I have mentioned before, I have strewn fountains and water features around the yard for the benefit of all the wild creatures that visit. Of late, I have had a mystical-like creature show up at just about the same time in the evening.
As the sun begins to go down, I watch the diurnal creatures visit one last time before tucking in for the night. And it’s then that the nocturnal visitors begin to rouse. About a month ago, I lingered in the yard watching my solar landscaping lights pop on and bring a different atmosphere to the yard. For a moment I glanced down the walk and away from the fountain in my yard… and when I looked back the wingspread of a little owl appeared at the fountain. It was silent. No swoosh. No splash. No audible indication at all that a new visitor was present. A western screech owl had found my water.
I was so intrigued that I sat motionless as it looked in all directions, silently checking for safety, maybe ensuring no threats were present, before it very quietly ducked its head to drink from the pooled water in the fountain. A few sips seemed to suffice, but it stayed in place…wings folded in, taloned feet and legs submerged in the cool water of the recirculating fountain. I was mesmerized.
I looked away for just a fraction of a second and then back at found the fountain…once again vacant. The screech owl was nowhere in sight. Not one hint that in that second of distraction it absolutely silently had unfolded it’s almost two-foot wings and took off, I suppose, for the more vegetated back of the yard. My neighbor has a nest box back there, and it is my greatest hope that babies were raised in that cavity this year and that the ‘hood’ was hospitable enough to make it a home again in future years.
I am all about doing what is possible to attract more of my wildlife neighbors to reside in my space. When it is eventually time to start planting again, I am going to concentrate on everything that I can do to make my yard ever more irresistible.
No pesticides. No traps. No invasive plants. I hope to let nature take the first shot at making my yard balanced and hospitable. Perhaps any semblance of a mosquito, mouse or rat will fall prey to the quick response of bats, owls, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, or snakes. All have been spotted around the neighborhood, and hereby invite all to dine at my house.
I will look to add night blooming plants like cereus, sacred datura, and tufted primrose. I intend to plant insect attracting plants like desert hackberry, desert willow and velvet mesquite. Providing food plants throughout my yard will further entice wildlife in search of appropriate habitat. Indian mallows, wolfberry, and globe mallow are not only a beauty to the yard that pleases my senses, but they are also nurturing, food-providing additions for the critters.
While I know that none of these efforts will prevent “other” non-native pests from showing up, maybe the presence of native wildlife in my yard will restore the balance that we should all seek. And with that in mind, I hope we all remember that our pets should remain inside when possible—for their safety and for the safety of wildlife. They will all live longer when there is no enticement for conflict.
So, sit in a quiet space as the sun goes down. Take in the nocturnal bliss. Watch for the magic of a silent visitor to your yard. It is something you are unlikely to forget.
Our friends at Desert Botanical Garden offer insights into adding native plants to your yard: https://dbg.org/learn/dls/. Look for our wildlife education teams at the DBG during the holiday “Noches de las Luminarias” festival. Additional landscaping classes are available from our friends at Boyce Thompson Arboretum: https://btarboretum.org/classes-and-workshops/.
This Week @ Liberty – July 18, 2023
I’m going to make this intro short and sweet and to the point; it’s hot! We are ever so thankful to all our volunteers working through this heat, day after day after day, to make sure our animals are cared for. This includes picking up leftovers from the day before, refreshing waters, giving fresh food, and a slew of other responsibilities our volunteers hold here at Liberty Wildlife. Our Rescue/Transport team battles this heat, too, trying to get to injured wildlife called into our hotline.
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for all the time, energy and effort you utilize by being here with us!
Research and Conservation
A little known side to Liberty Wildlife that I haven’t talked much about is Research and Conversation. Led by our very own biologist Laura Hackett, her and other biologists and volunteers work with companies in the area to ensure our wildlife is protected. This can include anything from monitoring Burrowing Owl nests before new builds are started to raptor nest removals and relocations due to their original placement (meaning they aren’t in the safest of places).
But one thing we see a lot of, especially right now, are eggs. Birds all over Arizona are finding their mates, nesting, and raising young. They’re all in various stages of this, too; Great Horned Owls tend to be our earliest nesters (February through March), whereas right now we tend to see a lot more Coopers Hawks. If you’re a Mourning Dove, you might be on your second clutch; if you’re a Cliff Swallow, you may be on your first or second, but either way, it’s happening.
Much like everything else we do here, there’s certainly a system behind it. For eggs that have to be moved, we bring them in and place them in a brooder right outside Orphan Care, which is checked multiple times a day for possible hatchlings. They are labeled, then rotated daily, and looked at through a process called “candling”, to see if the egg is viable. While candling is done better in a dark room, it doesn’t make for a great picture!
Of course, once these little guys hatch, they’re put into our intake system, tube fed until their old enough to eat on their own, and then released once their big enough.
It’s certainly a rewarding journey to watch!
Medical Services: A Sight to See
This time of year, we get all kinds of animals at our doorstep. Raccoons, skunks, red-tailed hawks, you name it; with each intake, our volunteers and veterinarians take the time to assess, come up with a game plan, and monitor to ensure we get the best outcome for each patient. And each one has a unique story to tell. Some come in stunned from a window strike and simply need a few days to recover before being placed outside. Others have fractures that require a simple wrap and time to heal. Other fractures may require an operation for a pin alongside a wrap, and careful monitoring of the pin while it’s healing, alongside anti-inflammatories and anti-biotics to assist with the healing process.
Either way, there’s no shortage of things you won’t see here at Liberty Wildlife. These are some of the things I’ve seen over the past few weeks:
A Pancake Tortoise was left at someone’s door step and made a pit stop in our triage before being placed somewhere safe and secure.
A shoe was done on a Mourning Dove to assist in helping set the digits of their toes for better use.
A juvenile Harris’s Hawk, covered in some kind of sticky substance, receives a dawn bath to remove it from his feathers.
A Great-Horned Owl stuck in a pool for who knows how long is moved from a brooder (where he dried off) into ICU to be monitored.
Hatchling Gila Woodpeckers fell from the cactus and were immediately brought to Liberty Wildlife.
Three Desert Tortoises left in a bin in a wash were found by a rescuer on a walk and promptly brought in.
Like I said, there’s never a shortage of stories or animals this time of year. Though some require quite a bit more help from us, it’s always nice to see some of them who need minimal assistance from us.
Closed in August and New Merchandise! Oh My!
While we love to see your wonderful and excited faces every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, August comes some of the hottest days of the year. Coupled with building maintenance and clean-up needed around campus, August is the perfect break for all of us to get some much needed work done. For us, that includes fixing enclosures, building new ones, or simply cleaning up weeds and the copious amount of trees we have on our 6-acre lot.
The good news is, we have this week and next week before we officially close for a month. That gives you all time to get in and see your favorite animal ambassadors before that happens, and even pick up some new merchandise, if you’re so inclined!
A coloring book (and paintings) are here for you to choose from. And it all goes to a great cause that we’re appreciative you’re a part of; we wouldn’t be here without all of you! Plus, we love seeing our gear around town…it certainly makes for a good conversation starter!
It’s crazy to think we’re already more than halfway through the year. Before we know it, fall will be here with all the insanity the holidays bring. Even so, and even despite the heat, I love summer and all the things it entails. That includes seeing some of our animals take to the shade and hang out just like we do.
Without further ado, here are this week’s notable mentions!
Maverick gets hosed down in the summer heat and loves it (2 pictures)
Groot wakes up from a long and luxurious nap (1 picture)
Maggie the Great Horned Owl may look grumpy, but I promise it’s just a look (1 picture – by Ceci)
Alpo decides it’s time to break-out of his part-time enclosure to walk around (and somehow find a way to get on top of one of my shelves in my office (2 pictures)
How many Western-Banded Geckos can we have in the building at one time? The answer, for now, is 7 (they were promptly released from the recycle bin outside) (1 picture)
An adorable raccoon stops by for a quick hello before being transferred to Southwest (1 picture – by Susie)
As always, thank you for taking the time to read our blog and visit us! We love seeing all the new, and old, faces here week in and week out.
Until next time!
Posted by Acacia Parker
Public Outreach Coordinator