Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – March 16, 2021
Spring is springing…I always know that because my phone, my car, and my computer have varying degrees of smartness when it comes to daylight savings time (Something we don’t participate in, across most of Arizona). For those of you who do go on daylight savings time…the most of you…this may be no big deal. For those of us who don’t, we often briefly operate on two different times until we figure out that our phone doesn’t jibe with the computer and/or the car until we are late or early for an important meeting. Yikes, it is sort of crazy!
Of course, another way to notice the change to spring, if you are at Liberty Wildlife, is the onslaught of orphans. This year it seems early, but they are indeed arriving. Wind and rain are often the culprits when it comes to promoting a rescue. We like to encourage would be saviors to pause and make sure a rescue is necessary, which is the best course for everyone…But, our orphan care volunteers are ready at work as we speak.
If a naked little bird is on the ground, no nest is in sight or is unreachable, it is a sure thing that the little guy will need help. Remember, birds have no sense of smell so if you can put it back in the nest, the parents will be thrilled. Our web site, libertywildlife.org, has a number of helpful hints to guide you to the necessity of a rescue and our Hotline Message line, 480-998-5550 is eager to help you. Please leave a message as they WILL get back to you!
Another way to recognize the arrival of spring is the growth in the number of visitors we get during Open Hours. This year has been particularly fun. I think people are looking for an outdoor opportunity to spring free of our year-long quarantine and visit an outdoor space. It makes me happy to look out at the folks arriving and realize what a treat they have in store for them. It sort of feels like a new day a coming.
As I walk around the grounds at Liberty Wildlife, I am also reminded of the seasonal changes in the landscape. Nests are appearing in trees, leaves are budding out, and the plants are popping forth blooms in the pollinator and butterfly gardens. The subtlety of desert landscape makes the awareness of it so much more important to me. This is one of my favorite times of the year. Everywhere I look I see signs of new hope, positive change and a feeling of awakening from a dark sleep.
This year is no exception, and if anything it seems that the positive changes we are seeing are so for the better. The fog we have been living through feels like it is lifting and not to rush things…but I still can’t wait for business as usual.
I want to invite everyone of you to consider a trip to Liberty Wildlife. Come visit our campus; see the wildlife we work with; and breathe the fresh air. And, consider signing up for a bird walk or nature walk. We are constantly exploring different areas of the Valley with trained naturalists and birders that provide a peek at wildlife just waiting to be noticed. Let’s all embrace nature and give thanks for the respite she provided for us as we worked our way through the past year of confinement.
This Week @ Liberty – March 16, 2021
It’s hard to believe that given the level of activity at the Intake Window last year, we are already around 60 ahead for this date. I think were all kind of hoping that 2021 would produce somewhat fewer injured/orphaned birds and animals, but it doesn’t appear that this is the case. Still, it’s early in the year so maybe things will change. The ominous thing is, we’re not even into the busiest time for us as historically our peak is in the period around the end of May and the beginning of June. In any case, Liberty stands ready for whatever comes our way!
The Education team is gearing upper another season of teaching the public about the animals in the world around them. One of our favorite programs taking place on a regular basis is the Verde Canyon Rail Road. Twice each month we set up a booth at the station in Clarkdale. Prior to boarding the train for the gorgeous three and a half hour ride along the Verde River, we show some of the birds they are likely to see on the trip and explain Liberty’s role in helping the fauna native to Arizona. On the alternate weeks each month, one of four bald eagles actually rides the train and gives passengers an up-close and personal look at this magnificent bird against the backdrop of its natural environment. As far as we know, these are the only train-riding eagles in the world. If you’re in Arizona and you haven’t gone for a ride on the Verde Canyon Rail Road, you are missing a marvelous opportunity to enjoy nature at its best!
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I think I mentioned before that some of the earliest arrivals at Liberty each year are hummingbirds and cottontail rabbits. Hummingbirds are notoriously sensitive to thermal changes and when the mercury drops below a certain threshold, they become immobile in a temperature induced torpor. Birds in this condition are frequently judged to be either injured (or dead) by the public and are subsequently brought to Liberty for help. Fortunately in many cases all they need is a little food and a chance to warm up and if they are old enough, they can be released in quick order.
***Along those lines, we’d like to remind everyone bringing anything to the intake window that the three critical words to remember are “Warm, Dark, and Quiet.” Too often animals come in that are cold to the touch. This can be deadly to an injured bird or small mammal. Most small creatures will do better in an ambient temperature of at least 90 degrees. A small Tupperware container or a butter tub filled with warm water and wrapped in a towel in the carrier with them can make all the difference.
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Wild cottontails are pretty much breeding all year long, but the greatest influx takes place in the spring. I worked the window recently for one shift and took in almost exclusively hummingbirds and bunnies. Sadly, a lot of tiny baby cottontails are mistakenly taken from their parents by people who think they have been abandoned. Wild baby bunnies are fed by mom twice a day and between feedings, they are left alone to prevent the nest from being discovered by predators. A sniffing dog or coyote is more apt to smell an adult cottontail than it is to catch the scent of even several babies, so the parents cover them carefully and remain at a distance to keep them safe. If you find a nest of baby bunnies, unless its in imminent danger of disturbance or destruction, replace the covering and leave it alone.
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There are around 25 different species of ducks in North America and we see many of them during the course of a year. Recently we took in young Indian runner duck from someone who had him as a pet but could no longer keep him. Indian runner ducks stand erect like penguins and rather than waddling, they run. They are prolific egg layers and as they run or walk, they often drop their eggs wherever they happen to be. This little guy is in good health and was placed in a good home with a friend of Dr. Lamb. Maybe you’ve seen the “Cheese and Quackers” show put on at Liberty events by John Glitsos and his team. We highly recommend this entertaining program!
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Another species that is sometimes “rescued” while not needing assistance at all is the bat. This red bat came in recently because he was hanging on a tree. Actually, red bats don’t live in caves and will roost in the foliage of deciduous trees, hanging by one foot and looking like a dead leaf or pine cone. They have more colorful bodies than their cave dwelling cousins, and are covered with fur including their tail membrane. They are astonishingly beneficial animals, pollinating over 500 species of valuable plants and consuming vast quantities of agricultural pest insects.
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Another orphan baby great horned owl was brought to us last week. He was mostly healthy and will join some others we have placed with foster parents on the east side rehab area. We take in several hundred of these “teddy bear” owls each year and in a few months after living with foster parents, they are released as fully functioning predators.
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A couple more birds came in from Luke Air Force Base last week. These are more of the birds trapped by the government under a depredation permit to protect the fighter jets operating out of Luke. This week’s victims were this red tailed hawk, a sharp shinned, and a kestrel. Fortunately, these birds were not injured severely and should be back in shape to be released in the near future.
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A large number of what we take in have been the victims of negative interaction with humans. Many have been shot, poisoned, hit by cars, or electrocuted. Another sizable portion have been impacted by fishing equipment which I’ve presented in this blog many time in the past. Last week a duck was brought in with a multi-hook fishing lure stuck in his leg. We were able to remove it but the duck very nearly bled to death before the procedure was over. Luckily, the Med Services team worked furiously to save him and now he is recovering. Then a couple of baby pigeons were brought in after a tree trimmer cut though their nest. Unfortunately one of the babies had a serious laceration across his throat area. Looking like he had attended the “Red Wedding” in Game of Thrones, he was brought to Triage where Amyra was on duty. With quick thinking and skillful work, she used some medical grade cyanoacrylate (“Krazy Glue”) to glue the wound shut and saved the poor little guy.
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Posted by Terry Stevens
Liberty Wildlife Volunteer