Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – July 20, 2021
The winds of change are a’coming…stay tuned. As always, for the month of August, we are going to close our Public Hours, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 to 11. We all know that it is just too hot for the visitors, the volunteers and the wildlife ambassadors. There is no escaping the heat at that point. As it turns out this is also the time we make changes, improvements, clean-ups, additions and deletions around the campus. In short, it is time for change. We are excited about improving the guest experience whenever we can. Now is the time to add more things that wow you, entertain you, educate you.
As some of you may have noticed, we have added a safety measure by completing the fencing and gates around the front of the campus. It is nicely crafted and doesn’t give the feeling of being closed in…and we like that! In our efforts to preserve our beautiful landscaping, the fence does some zig zags to maintain harmony with nature…nature that doesn’t really celebrate straight lines.
In addition to that fencing, we are adding a spiffed up security fence around the educational enclosures protecting the guests and the animals. The fencing will be topped with a strip of wood to protect from the heat build-up, and it will blend in with the rest of the facility. It will be a lovely addition and very practical for everyone’s safety and enjoyment.
New signage is on the agenda with updated QR codes that allow a guest to tour the Interpretive Trail providing the information on each animal…there at their fingertips, to be consumed at each visitor’s own pace. It will be possible to linger, photograph and observe to your heart’s desire. And, if you happen to be more comfortable speaking Spanish, the QR code information will be translated for your convenience.
An additional stop to enjoy, as you tour the campus during our resumed Open Hours in the fall, will be our new training enclosure. This new venue enables guests to observe trainers working with the wildlife to facilitate the introduction of the visitor to animal ambassadors. These non-releasable animals will be reinforced for exhibiting some of their natural behaviors. Scheduled times for these practice sessions will be announced either before or after our regular amphitheater programs.
And, we will continue to have eagle feedings, birds in flight, runner ducks, pop ups (animal handlers and ambassadors)…all to introduce you to some of the non-releasable wildlife we work with. This will allow our guests to have an “up close” experience with some of our resident wildlife ambassadors and learn about the roles they play in our environment. Looking eye to eye with a golden eagle is an experience you won’t soon forget…something to be permanently seared into your soul.
A few new enclosures are on the agenda also. It is not determined yet when they will be completed but included among them are mammal enclosures, a new waterfowl enclosure and one surprise addition…you’ll have to wait to see!
Our Feather Repository is always changing, growing, displaying and that will continue. Our Interactive Room is also a mutable display designed to educate and thrill. Development on the other parts of the grounds include a continual display with bird feeders attracting both resident and migrating birds. The occasional bobcat, fox or coyote makes its way through the campus to the Rio Salado below providing a quick glimpse to what lies beyond in the city’s own riparian way.
Let’s not forget our beautiful wetland with its ever changing display of plants and animals. Tadpoles to frogs, turtles to snakes, dragonflies to butterflies, and let’s not forget to feed the fish. This attraction also affords a way station to wildlife passersby…in for a short visit to eat, swim, wade, or drink. This makes the wetlands a truly transitional display. I love it.
Stay tuned for announcements regarding our opening after our August chores are completed. Join us to see what we’ve marked off our ‘to do’ list and what we’ve been up to in your absence. Trust me…we won’t have been idle. And, it will be worth the wait.
For us it is all about the guest/visitor experience!
This Week @ Liberty – July 20, 2021
Returning after the mid-summer break for July 4th (The Liberty “All-Star” break?), I computed that last week we were 527 ahead of last year on the same date and time. As we now approach our August public hours break, we are well into what appears to be a more normal monsoon period. At least we are getting a bit of rain to break up the 110-115 degree days of July and August. This coincides with the arrival of hundreds of white wing doves at the intake window. The good news is, this usually heralds a tapering off of activity which will give us all a moment to catch our breath after another long, hot summer. Fingers crossed for better times to come.
One of the concessions to opening the new facility when we did was forgoing a perimeter fence at the front of the campus. Thanks to the anonymous donation from a beloved friend of Liberty Wildlife, we now have a solar powered gates and fence to protect the parking lot and the areas from the street to the gabion wall and the main building. This will offer greater safety and security for the volunteers who donate their free time and skills to maintaining the wildlife of Arizona. Safety is our primary goal.
(Look for 3 pictures.)
Even though it’s fairly late in the season, Orphan Care is still busy with caring for a myriad of orphan baby birds. From the hundreds of baby doves of all species, to the less common flickers and woodpeckers, to the mockingbirds and the ducklings, Kathleen & Lisa’s team faithfully feeds and nurtures the littlest peepers and quackers until they are old enough to be released. Some require special feeding techniques of hand feeding, some just stand and gape until the food is deposited in their mouths. Some get insects, some get seeds, some are born free feeding, but all get the benefit of the knowledge and experience of the Liberty Orphan Care volunteers.
(Look for 10 pictures.)
Lesser Night hawk
Nighthawks and poorwills, both in the caprimulgid family, are most often seen flying at dawn and dusk. Lesser nighthawks fly low and like bats, eat insects on the wing. They spend a lot of their “off hours” sitting on the ground, protected by their incredible camouflage. We sometimes get these birds brought in by people who find one and assume it’s injured because it’s motionless and on the ground. This year, we took in a couple of baby lesser nighthawks and our Oprhna Care staff hand fed them until they were old enough to self feed after release.
(Look for 4 pictures)
“The Usual Suspects”
A week wouldn’t be complete without several red tails and kestrels coming in. In Triage, each one is fully examined and assessed, weighed, and given fluids. On Tuesdays, an exam which may include X-Rays or inspection with an ophthalmoscope by a veterinarian or Certified Veterinary Technician is provided. Immediate issues like these cactus spines are addressed and long-term treatment is then planned after which food is often provided, followed by de-stressing cage rest. Such care would cost hundreds of dollars if given in the commercial veterinary field.
(Look for 9 pictures.)
While we almost always have a full complement of red-tailed hawks, kestrels, great horned wwls, and various doves, we do get the uncommon visitor now and then. One such rarity recently was this juvenile pied bill grebe. Often the grebes we do see have just made an unfortunate choice of landing spots, picking an expanse of asphalt or other dry land area which prevents them from regaining flight. As we’ve explained in the past, due to their anatomical arrangement, they have an exceedingly forward center of gravity which keeps them from moving on foot when not in water. Usually, like this little kid, there is nothing physically wrong with them, they just need to get back to a good sized pond or river to be able to once again take-off.
Another infrequent arrival was this young white-throated swift. This is another bird that has evolved to require a specific topography for survival. They will eat on the fly and hang on the side of a cliff (or screen enclosure!)when not aviating.
A baby Western banded gecko was brought in recently, once again the victim of a glue trap. These little guys are great to have around as they eat lots of baby scorpions. And at the risk of repeating myself yet again, there are three rules for glue traps.
Rule 1: Don’t use them. Rule 2: Don’t ever use them. Rule 3: Don’t NEVER ever use them! (Bad grammar, but it should get the point across!)
An adult yellow bellied slider turtle came to the window a couple weeks ago. These guys are native to North America, but generally found back east. This guy was coated in moss and of such a size to indicate he’s been around for several years.
A young striped skunk was brought to the window last week. Nothing was wrong with the animal, it was just unlucky enough to get trapped in a window well and be caught.
Another young (they are always young) brown pelican is in our care. As soon as practicable, he will be taken to Sea World San Diego for final rehabbing and release.
A juvenile jackrabbit spent the last few days in the bunny room. Normally we get a ton of cotton tail rabbits each year (as seen later on in this blog), but every once in a while a jack rabbit shows up. Requiring different care and special handling, the bunny volunteers are ready to provide what he needs until he is released.
Finally, the rarest animal seen this year is this tiny sugar glider. There were actually two, a mother and her offspring, found on the ground locally. This marsupial is native to Australia and, unfortunately, is sold in exotic pet stores and do require special handling and care.
(Look for 9 pictures.)
Cottontails are very common visitors to Liberty no matter what time of year. These bunnies are a member of the lagomorph family and are an important link in the food chain. A doe (female cottontail) will usually have three or four litters in a summer, but can have as many as six which is probably why we never seem to run out of bunnies at Liberty! We have specially trained volunteers who command the “Bunny Room” across the hall from Orphan Care and give the little bundles of cuteness the care they require as they grow from blind, furless babies into autonomous rabbits in just a few weeks. Like a lot animals that are brought to us from well-meaning individuals, many have been “bunny napped” – that is taken from their nest which was probably being watched by their parents from seclusion. The mother was most likely foraging for food and standing by to keep predators away but could not stop humans from stealing her young ones.
We try to give them a varied diet so they are as healthy as possible prior to release.
(Look for 5 pictures.)