Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – June 7, 2022
As you walk down the hall of the hospital, it becomes louder and louder…a familiar yet unclear sound wafts towards you…a cacophony of audibles in a lot of different “languages”, but they all say the same thing….feed me, feed me, feed me and is recognized as the universal language of begging. It is baby bird season at Liberty Wildlife.
You may have heard the sound outside your window from the nest of finches by the door. One, two, or three baby finches are compelling….200 babies hollering, pleading is staggering…and that is what you hear in our hospital at this time of year.
This is an endearing yet crazy time of year for us at Liberty Wildlife. When the winds blow, and they invariably blow this time of year, babies are sent hurtling from nests way too early to survive on their own, and when parents are unable to feed them or care for them, compassionate people like you bring them to us to finish the job. In our orphan care department, there are ideally 100 volunteers, who fill three shifts a day seven days a week, assuming the role of mom and pop bird.
There are many of those volunteers, who like swallows to Capistrano return every year to assume the role of foster parents to babies in distress. They are heroes. And, every year newbies show up enthusiastically and dedicated to take part in the efforts. We appreciatively welcome them with open hands and hearts. These people jump to assist a great number of different species, different ages, different needs and do it with aplomb.
They get to handle tiny little packages of hope. They get to watch the development of a life sometimes from an egg to time for release back into the wild. They learn the nuances of different species and their needs from the earliest of times until freedom. They get a new awareness of the backyard birds that they have appreciated from afar. It is a greatly rewarding volunteer experience, which is guided by two very talented coordinators….Kathleen and Mel!
Supporting the Orphan Care team is an even bigger group behind the scenes. Our Medical Services Team and its Coordinator, Jan. And the Daily Care Coordinator, Alex, and her team. Someone has to ensure that medical supplies are on hand and that the correct foods are available…worms, crumble, Exact (specialized hand feed diet), etc. We get a true appreciation of the work the mom and pop do in the wild and realize that they can’t order the food that they need to care for hungry begging babies…they forage.
And as the orphans grow they move to intermediary enclosures, and then ever larger flight enclosures. And this would not be possible without the support of yet another team, our Facilities Construction and Maintenance Team, led by Rick and Brooke. They have just completed a new outdoor intermediary care enclosure adjacent to our Modular building where meals are prepped. And they are always working on maintaining and rebuilding, as necessary, the flight enclosures that constitute the final stages of the rehabilitation process.
So, all of these people at Liberty Wildlife do their parts to fledge the babies that you bring to us. But, you have another part, too. Without your generous donations, we couldn’t do the rest of the work we do… There’s always a catch….right? This year you can help by sponsoring the Orphan Care Department through a gift for your father for Father’s Day. How great for good ‘ole Dad to know that someone is helping his counterpart in nature. This is a feel-good gift, and you can help at any level that feels right to you. Know that you are honoring your dad by helping thousands of “dadless” orphaned animals in the wild.
But you don’t need to wait just for an occasion like Father’s Day… we gladly accept your support throughout the year. This is especially important, as “orphan care season” has grown in the last few years to become a more year-round activity. Last year we were still receiving in new baby animals late into the fall. Your support for Orphan Care is really welcome at any time.
This Week @ Liberty – June 7, 2022
Every year we have a pair of mallards that arrive in the spring, stay in our wetlands for breeding season, and disappear with their babies as soon as the eggs hatch. The first year they arrived, they had their nest right outside of the Non-Eagle Feather Repository Room. The week after she laid her eggs, we had our on-site Sippin’ event and had to cordon off the area! As soon as the eggs hatched, momma mallard walked them down to the river and we didn’t see them again until the next year. The next two years she learned from her mistake, and we would see them around the wetlands until the mom laid her nest in a more secluded spot.
As I was walking into the lobby last week, I was met with quite a surprise. The mother mallard and nine of her babies were waiting by the front door! This year, she must have had her nest in the front of the facility rather than the back. She couldn’t get back to the wetlands, or the river, as the building and gabion wall were in the way. For those of you who haven’t been to our new facility, the front doors open to the lobby, which leads to the wetlands on the other side. So I asked another volunteer to come help usher them through, and we got them back to the wetlands. They stayed there for a few days, until eventually moving on to the river. The male mallard is still hanging around the wetlands, but I expect this will be the last we see of the mom and babies until next year!
To see footage of the duck family’s adventure through the lobby, see the video below.
So far this year, of the 5,903 animals we have taken in, nearly 500 have been mallard ducks. It may seem odd that we get so many ducks in the desert, but the temperate winters and man-made water features that dot the Valley are perfect breeding grounds. This past week, we had someone bring us a group of ducklings that found themselves in a bad situation. They had fallen down a storm drain and got separated from their mother. Two intrepid members of the public moved the grate, put a ladder down the drain, and rescued the little ducklings. They looked high and low for the mother, but were unable to locate her and reunite the family. So they did a little searching and brought them to us to be raised and released back into the wild.
Due to the number of ducks we take in, we now ask that the public bring ducks to us when they are orphaned, ill, or injured. In the past, we had the resources to send out rescue and transport volunteers, but due to the volume of ducks and a limited number of volunteers, we can no longer send people out. If you’ve found a duck (or any wildlife) in trouble and need advice on what to do, be sure to call our hotline at (480) 998-5550.
Animal Ambassador of the Week
Is he an anteater? Is he a raccoon? Is he adorable? Meet Groot – our education Coati! Coati are medium-sized mammals native to North, Central, and South America. In the United States, they are only found in the Southwest. They eat fruit, invertebrates, small rodents, lizards, small birds, and eggs. Their long snout helps them investigate holes and crevices, and they have strong claws for digging.
Groot was born in Texas at a breeding facility. He was sold to someone in Indianapolis, where it is illegal to have them as pets. The Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife caught wind and confiscated him. A local animal rescue took Groot in, but Indianapolis is not within his native range, so they reached out to us. We booked a ticket on Southwest airlines for Groot to come down, and he has been with us ever since! Groot is a South American coati, not the white-nosed coati that is native to Arizona. As such, the ones you see in the wild around Arizona will look a bit different than Groot.
In this year’s edition of our annual magazine, WingBeats, we will be sharing a few stories of why our volunteers do what they do. We had way too many submissions to include in the article, but one stood out to me that I would like to share here.
“I’ve always been career-focused, driven toward ‘success’, and spending most of my life working towards recognition as a strong working woman. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, I worked extremely hard, clocking in over 70 hours a week, only to see people around me get laid off, burned out, and unhappy. I started getting daily headaches, high blood pressure, fatigue, irritability, and lack of any care for anything. It was burnout. I had hit burnout in my career twice before but I had been able to recover in a month or so, but this was different, I was burned more than I had ever been and I was a shell of myself.
While still in the midst of the Pandemic and early in my burnout recovery I was sitting outside one Saturday just lost in thought staring off into the distance, and an owl flew into my peripheral view, parked himself in a tree, and stared at me. He and I sat there for a while as I stared at such a majestic creature and felt honored he showed himself to me. I didn’t think much of it other than to take a picture, thinking, ‘wow that’s cool.’ The next day I checked if he was there and he was, this time in a different tree. I puttered around the yard doing some work outside as he napped and occasionally opened one eye to watch me. The next day I checked if he was there again and he was but this time, sitting on the floor of my cement patio napping. The next morning, he was still there but moved into another, slightly more protected spot and something seemed very wrong. I went to Google where I found Liberty Wildlife. I called, confirmed my suspicion, got a rescuer out, and watched as they took the sick bird away. I felt empty at the loss of my new friend and I felt bad that I didn’t recognize the animal was looking for help.
One evening, a week after the owl was rescued, I was deep in thought surfing the web and found myself on Liberty’s website looking for ways I could have done more. Then I realized, can I donate? Why don’t I volunteer? I quickly read everything on the site and applied. It didn’t take long but soon I received a response, went through the process, and started my first Hotline shift. I was doing something to help. I felt better and began to enjoy the communication with others who just wanted to help the animals. I started to feel more like myself and started to be proud of the work I was doing for me, not for others, not for a promotion, not for recognition.
Why do I volunteer? I volunteer because I can. I volunteer because while I battle my own struggles, I have to remember that so do others; some are not able to help themselves. It’s been several months since that morning when I first met my owl friend, and I know that he entered my life to help me find another purpose and help me understand a different way to measure success.”
Posted by Nathan Thrash
Public Outreach Coordinator