Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – July 31, 2017
I am not particularly crazy about humidity even though a lovely, gentle summer shower does please…the operative here is lovely and gentle. However, the monsoon does bring out an interesting array of critters. Many insects find the season the cat’s meow for emerging from the ground in hopes of finding a mate and filling their bellies. If you can tolerate sitting outside in the evening the cicada’s racket means summer. The spadefoot toad that surfaces at the pitter-patter of raindrops with the intention of finding love thus insuring a continuation of the species, can also send out a racket sounding like “the bleating of a baby lamb”…While you may not see these critters, you can be very aware that they are close by doing their monsoon thing.
The others that are totally interesting to me are way more silent and not so easy to spot…but when you do, they are oh so interesting. One of my favorites it the vinegaroon. I just like saying the word. How could it be anything but cool with a name like that? Adding to its uniqueness is its appearance. This member of the whip scorpion family is sort of a scary looking cross between a spider and a scorpion. It is an arachnid (that says enough to me) with the requisite eight legs (eeeew), but it only uses six of them to walk on while the first two have morphed into feelers…big scary looking ones. It doesn’t bite humans but can spray acetic acid when threatened. That is an impressive trick. But, the very best thing about this unusual looking creature is that it feeds on bark scorpions and cockroaches –two of my least favorite of nighttime silent crawlers. Go vinegaroons!
There are many other creatures who make the most of the summer rains. The Palo Verde Root Borer, looking a little like a flying rhinoceros is formidable as it hurdles through the air at night…yikes! The feared black widows come out to mate and continue their nasty ways. The male tarantulas, fearsome looking, but basically harmless, do a walk-about during the season looking for a winsome female standing outside her domicile also looking for a mate. The male completes his short 2-year life after passing on his genes while the winsome female can live twenty years mostly underground most of the year until the rains announce that it is time to make the move to the door to snag another mate. Hmmmmmmmmm.
Arizona is a great place to be during the monsoon. Ranked number three in diversity among states affords those of us who care a terrific opportunity to see a wondrous variety of interesting animals. Some are despised like the lowly termite, but unless they are chomping on your house, they do serve a purpose of being prey for other animals and for aerating the soil. In fact, mass destruction of insects you don’t care for is the wrong way to go. This whole planet would shut down without them.
Remember everything is connected, has a role to play, and needs some respect. So, tune in and enjoy the sounds and sights of the monsoon.
This Week @ Liberty – July 31, 2017
Even as the intake rate drops noticeably – 24 today, some interesting statistics emerge. Last year on this date (the 31st of July), we had a total of 5,241 intakes. That means we are 1,273 animals ahead of this day a year ago. The truly amazing fact is that, if we take in another 69 animals we will equal ALL of 2016 in terms of the number of wild lives we have impacted. True, not all survive, but the fact that we are here, in this new facility with all its state-of-the-art equipment and manned with dedicated volunteers who come in to work in the heat, the humidity, the monsoons, and the traffic…it really gives one hope for the future of humanity, wildlife, and the planet as a whole. It also means the move to our new home was worth the effort as we now can serve more animals than ever before.
Even so, the day-to-day work goes on, the Education team, the Med Services team, the OC crew and the Daily Care staff, all doing their best to work on through to the cooler weather we all hope is coming sooner or later…
The morning Med Services volunteers show the meaning of “teamwork” as they work together on one of many great horned owls in our care.
Even as we approach the last month of Orphan Care for 2017, the work in the “Happiest place in the world outside of Disneyland” as the OC volunteers lovingly feed and care for the littlest creatures we take in. Helping the truly helpless is what they do, and they do it so well…
Our newly christened bunny habitat to the north of the “Mod building” seems to be a hit with our gathering of lagomorphs. Cotton tails and jacks all get to acclimate to the ambient conditions in a safe environment as they grow under our care. Plus, the three little raccoons are doing well in their own enclosure, learning to be what they are best at – being cute and full of mischief! Maybe one will be a future star of another sequel to “Guardians of the Galaxy”…
Working the intake window last week, I noticed another “visitor” on the sidewalk – this pretty little snake. I say little, as I am told (by Carl Price, our resident reptile guru) it is a juvenile version of a “Sonoran Whipsnake (Masticophis bilineatus). Carl writes: “Yep, that’s definitely what it was. Check your field guide – my latest lists 24 inches as the minimum length. Because of the anterior blotchiness, that is certainly a hatchling (they reach almost six feet). So you’ve had a clutch hatch in the neighborhood.”
So we have some interesting neighbors at the new facility…!
We are lucky to have as a volunteer Robin Kibler who just happens to be an expert in Riparian habitat repair. She has been braving the slippery bottom of our wetlands to the north of the main building to remove as much non-native flora as is possible. It seems cattails, salt cedar, and other alien species find their way into the local environment and quickly take over from natives – unless they are “asked” to leave by knowledgeable people like Robin. We always seem to find just the right people volunteering at just the right time…! Thank you Robin, and all those helping you!
Ahh, another successful production of “Roadkill Cafe” put on by the Liberty Wildlife Players (John, Balinda, and Claudia) last week. It’s a stirring tale of treacherous snake capture, silent flight, and, well, skunks, set against the backdrop of a desert environment. It involves elements of blood, stealth, super speed, and cunning – and that’s just the cast! Come and watch it some weekend and in addition to being entertained, you might even learn a few things… (Rumor has it that a second troupe is in training to take the show “on the road”!)
Posted by Terry Stevens