Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – May 04, 2020
During this interesting time of social distancing, we all have had to adjust. We now stand in lines that hadn’t formed before. We stock up on things that are a little new to our list like hand wipes and serious cleansers. We don’t leave the store without our paper products whether or not we actually need them…well at least some of us do.
The thing I find the most frustrating is that my friends don’t drop by much anymore so I have had to make new acquaintances for whom social distancing is the preferred way of being…wild birds. In particular one sexy little guy called a hooded oriole…oh my has he stolen my heart.
My new normal is to plant myself on my side patio, morning and evening, in hopes that he will honor me by showing up in all of his splendor. My neighbor, Susan, introduced me to him last year and now we share him as our new BFF neighbor. He is a pretty selective visitor and doesn’t always make himself known as he hides stealthily inside the depths of the trees and shrubs that line my patio. I am trying to learn his song so that when he is out of sight, I can still know that he is there.
For those of you who don’t know or haven’t been introduced to this handsome species, simply put, they are magnificent….all intense orange and black and sleek. The drab-ish wife is more olive and yellow and perfectly designed to be out of sight as she raises her babies in her self made hanging nest on the underside of a palm frond. After their clutch or if luck abounds—two clutches—they head off for Mexico until the next breeding season when they hopefully once again drop in on me and neighbor, Susan.
From what I can tell, they are happy eating bugs like ants and beetles or larvae, grasshoppers and the occasional orange slice that I have impaled on the thorns of a palo verde in my bird yard. He easily competes for attention with my otherwise different ‘shades of brown’ collection of finches, house sparrows, doves, towhees, and thrashers including my 4 or 5 year old “sticky out leg” curved bill thrasher that has raised a family in my yard for this, the 4 th year. I have an occasional cardinal that shows up and puts the male finch with his breeding bright red breast to shame, but like I said, he is only an occasional drop in.
I have grown to know my new friend in a totally social distancing way. I lure him in with food, water and a safe place to be. He brings me friendship and something to look forward to when most other camaraderie is challenged, kaput, outlawed. I am grateful for having the ability to get to know him and the others, appreciate them, and communicate with them…albeit it’s pretty one sided.
I am not happy about the Covid 19 virus with all of the grief surrounding it, but I am pleased that I am allowed to fill my down time with such a joyous experience. I encourage everyone who might have a secret spot to visit daily, to look for some social time with your wildlife neighbors.
Get to know them and their ways…at a safe distance, of course.
This Week @ Liberty – May 04, 2020
The season is finally upon us with a vengeance. For about the last 2 weeks we have been seeing around 75-80 animals arive at the intake window each day. As of 8:00am this morning, we were 731 ahead of May 4th last year. And all this with remarkably fewer volunteers, mostly due to the pandemic. The people who have remained at their posts and those new people who have joined us recently have been performing admirably. These volunteers have my profound thanks for “stepping up” and doing what needs to be done. If we can make it through May and June (historically our busiest months), we’ll put this year in the record books for a variety of reasons.
The Air Force jet fly-over last week was meant as a salute to the first responders and medical people who are getting us all through this unprecedented experience, and I can’t help but think that this covers those who help out the wildlife as well.
Although we are all excited when an eagle or a condor comes in, the vast majority of our patients are of the “LBB” (little brown bird) variety. Hundreds of doves, sparrows, grackles and other small birds arrive with a plethora of presentations. True to form, some will survive, and sadly some will not, but in any event, all will receive care that they couldn’t possibly imagine without Liberty Wildlife being on the job…
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More than one little owl came in last week. There are 14 species of owls in Arizona, most of which are small. This little Western screech owl presented an eye problem which was examined and addressed by Dr.Lapa. It wasn’t apparent what caused the injury, but the little owl is definitely in good hands now.
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Another diminutive owl that is with us for treatment is this little flammulated owl. Not a frequent visitor to us, this little bird is a long distance migrator, showing up in our area in late April. They breed in various locations in the western US and head down through Mexico to spend off-breeding time in Central America. This little guy was found in a pool and presented possible head trauma but presently is doing well in our care.
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A couple of barn owls showed up last week, with a number of different presentations. Some barns are orphans who either fall or are pushed/blown from nests (usually in palm trees). Some have been injured in the fall, some receive their injuries from the usual suspects: cats, dogs, and kids. A remarkable number come in from agricultural areas often from nest sites in bales of straw. In several instances, the bales were loaded onto trucks and driven hundreds of miles, carrying the entire clutch of baby owlets to wherever the hay was destined. As the bales are unloaded at the destination, the baby owls are discovered and if lucky, they are brought to Liberty Wildlife.
(Look for 5 photos)
Not to be outdone by their smaller cousins, we also saw the intake of a couple of great horned owls. These birds are very tough and often we find indications of old injuries that have healed on their own. In a lot of these cases, the owls have learned to adapt to any limitations that their injuries place on them, often living fairly normal lives with some new ways of dealing with what the world throws at them.
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Once each year the birds get a “spa day” which includes talon trimming, beak coping, worn jess and anklet replacement, and any other cosmetic or comfort enhancing adjustments, and vaccination for West Nile Virus. The vaccine is historically donated so the cost to us is minimal. It’s just a question of labor – and who wants to grab the birds as nobody wants to have the birds begin to dislike them because of the handling required. All of the Ed birds get the treatment from kestrels to eagles so it’s a long day for the staff and the volunteers. We’re hoping the animals like it as they are better equipped afterward for another year of being prime “Ambassadors for their species,” living in the limelight. AND, they are protected from WNV!
(Look for 9 photos)
Posted by Terry Stevens