Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – March 12, 2019
Saturday at Liberty Wildlife was the scene of our annual “wild ones” baby shower, designed to feather our nests to care for the incoming orphans this year…and there are more and more of them each year. The assembled crowd donated money and goods from our wish list, interacted with our educational ambassadors, played games, won raffles, etc.…good humans doing good deeds for the welfare of our wildlife neighbors in need of our help. There are many orphans in need, and we are here to be a safety net to help in the interim while they grow up and are readied for release. Of course, it would be better if we didn’t have to intervene, but…..
We understand and are saddened when babies blow out of nests, when extreme heat forces them to leap from the nest to escape the ravages of the sun, or when other natural events disturb the normal nesting routines. Yes, we can deal with that.
What we find unacceptable, depressing, outrageous is the human caused mean spirited interruption of a breeding situation like what occurred this past week. A great horned owl was brought in to us. It presented with a head wound. Closer examination results from the x ray showed a track through the head. A b.b. was the culprit. Damage to the facial disc was secondary and probably occurred when she hit the ground.
The story gets sadder and meaner. She, the mother owl, has a brood patch, which indicates that she is sitting on eggs or babies. And, now she is absent from the nest leaving babies vulnerable to the elements, to prey and to starvation. Papa Great Horned Owl will try valiantly to take over, but it is a lot to do. Her eventual release is uncertain, but it will be no time soon.
We have since found that she did indeed have three babies in the nest. Game and Fish is studying the situation from a law enforcement point of view, and the babies are being monitored. We will intercede if it is deemed necessary and put these babies in with one of our foster parents to finish the raising as we supply food.
There is so much wrong with this story, and I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings. But, this owl couple invested everything into this nesting event. It is what they are hard wired to do. It is very sad to have to take the babies, but if it is a matter of life or death, I suppose it is best.
If being the bearer of sad tidings gets you outraged, perhaps our communal voices will speak to the evil doers and change the behavior and thought process that says it is okay to shoot a mother great horned owl (or any helpless creature for that matter) as she cares for this year’s precious cargo.
Speak up everyone. Let’s see if our chorus of outrage can make a difference…if not for these owls, for future ones.
This Week @ Liberty – March 12, 2019
Intakes are slowly increasing, and Orphan Care will be opening shortly. The annual Baby Bird Shower went off last Saturday under cool but mostly clear skies and seemed to be enjoyed by all who attended. All of the groups within the organization are gearing up for the busy season which will be upon us before we know it. New shelving and caging is being constructed and installed, and procedures and protocols are being refined and updated to make the operation run at an optimal level. The one thing we can’t control is the human/wildlife interface that generates most of our intakes. The human capacity for damaging nature is always disappointing, underlining the need for additional education as to how we, as a species, might modify our behavior to mitigate our impact on the planet.
Hummingbirds are some of our first intakes each year. Some are merely inactive due to torpor induced by cold temperatures. Others are the victims of tree and plant trimming done at an inopportune time of the year. Sometimes in these cases, a whole nest shows up having been snipped from a tree along with the branch that was supporting it. Eventually, the tiny birds will go into a special hummingbird enclosure designed for their unique requirements.
(Look for 2 photos)
Tuesday afternoon “Vet Night” saw Jan along with the volunteer techs and veterinarians treating the various recent intakes including these injured red tails. One normally plumed bird presented some wing issues. The other, a beautiful dark morph, appeared to have suffered a catastrophic collision with some immoveable object and had lost most of it’s upper beak. The extent of the damage gave little hope for successful treatment, and before the bird could be euthanized, it died quietly on its own. Jan recounted that we have seen this before when a bird comes in critically thin and very close to the end after some extreme trauma. They are fighting to stay alive just long enough to reach a quiet place of safety where they can release their grasp on life and die in peace. Sometimes, that’s the only thing we can provide for them…
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Sometimes, you just want to shake your head and sigh. It was reported that a great horned owl was brooding her baby owlets in a palm tree recently until some one decided to shoot her with a pellet/BB gun. The projectile hit her head and she fell from the tree where she was rescued and brought to Liberty. Dr. Tan removed the pellet but it’s not known if she suffered any lasting brain damage. She is recovering from the GSW and other trauma she sustained in her fall. Currently, the incident is being investigated by AZGFD enforcement personnel.
(Look for 3 photos)
Tim was sent up towards Payson last week to transport another bald eagle that had been found foraging at a landfill and was displaying behavior consistent with a toxic reaction. Upon testing, it was confirmed he had been exposed to pesticide (organo-phosphate) and had an elevated lead level as well. He was also x-rayed to rule out any residual contaminants in his digestive tract. Treatment began almost immediately and he has responded well. Though still in treatment, he is now in an outside enclosure and his progress is encouraging.
(Look for 4 photos)
A barn owl was admitted after being extracted from a chimney. He was totally coated with soot and grime requiring a thorough washing with detergent. The main danger from foreign substances covering feathers is that the bird will ingest toxic particles while preening so a gentle, non-toxic bath with Dawn Detergent is usually the prescribed treatment.
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Our annual Baby Bird Shower took place last Sunday and seemed to be a success. The weather was nearly perfect and between the games, the instructional activities, and the food, everyone reported a good time! On top of this, people brought in over $625 in donated goods from our wish list which topped last year by 25%.
(Look for 8 photos)
Posted by Terry Stevens