Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – May 10, 2022
Good News / Bad News
I am sure that I am not alone, when I say that awareness of the news today is not an uplifting experience. Everything seems bad and nothing seems to have a solution. That can create a scenario rampant with depression. But, hold on….I started looking around and have been able to turn a few of the stories on their heads and establish the good, the silver lining, the “Oh thank God for that” moment.
The bad news especially from the standpoint of a nature lover, birder, wildlife enthusiast, is to read about the onset of another disaster for the avian world. The arrival of the avian flu, yet again, is pretty devastating. There is no cure. It is rampant all over the world and contagious. It is causing the devastation of flocks of species of both domestic and wild birds. Recently large numbers of vultures fell prey to it on the east coast of the U.S. But, the good news for us in Arizona (that might sound a little selfish) is that this “bug” hates hot and dry, and that is what we have here in abundance. I give you this information to reduce any fear you may have of helping a wild bird in need. Fear of this flu spreading doesn’t serve anyone…especially the bird in need. We will, however, take every precaution if it is diagnosed in any animals in our area. We have plans to set in motion at the first inkling of a need. Drastic means are being taken in other parts of the country to deal with the hardships facing our avian neighbors. We are hoping that isn’t the case for us here…but we are prepared!
Another bad news, good news story concerns the California Condors in the northwestern part of the country. Condors were extirpated for years from the area of the Yurok Tribal Community. This Native American tribe has mourned the loss of the species for decades. A tribe that cherishes the “balance” that the presence of the condor ensures has worked since the early 2000’s to rectify the loss by orchestrating the return of condors to the area. As part of a restoration effort, which included language revitalization, removal of dams from the Kalamath River, and erasing the issues causing the demise of the species, DDT and lead, the tribe in cooperation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service has just released two California condors back into the tribal lands. So, from non-existence and through a Herculean effort, the skies now provide a backdrop for the return of the two California Condors to Yurok tribal lands. Very good news!!!
If you live in Arizona, and the Valley in particular, you will be very aware of the ghastly winds that have blown through the area recently and relentlessly. This is a really bad time for winds…brush fires are fed by them, allergies are enhanced by them….and many, many babies are wafted way too early from nests designed to protect them until they fledge and are ready for prime time. The good news of this story is that people all over the Valley have found a solution by bringing the helpless animals they find blown from nests to our Intake Window. We have very experienced staff and volunteers lined up in teams to help these babies, orphaned, broken, or forced out too soon due to no fault of their own…the big culprit is the wind. And, while we can’t stop the winds, we can provide a service to help. Our sponsorships for the Orphan Care program were big hits for Mother’s Day and will remain an option for your consideration all season.
I suppose if you look, it isn’t that hard to find something good to focus on. Let me know if you have other good news to inspire me and to investigate!
This Week @ Liberty – May 10, 2022
After 20 years of creating and sharing ‘This Week at Liberty”, Terry Stevens has retired from the blog. Thank you Terry for your many years of sharing such wonderful stories and photos! I’ve certainly got some big shoes to fill taking over.
A little about me, I started with Liberty in the Spring of 2019 as an intern through the school of Sustainability. I was hooked immediately. I’ve always considered myself a lover of the outdoors, but it wasn’t until I started at Liberty that I really started to recognize what was around me in nature. The hummingbirds that seem to be everywhere in the spring. The oh-wait-that-isn’t-a-pigeon sitting on a telephone wire. The osprey sitting off the highway on my way to work. These little marvels of creation are everywhere, if you know where to look.
My official title at Liberty Wildlife is Public Outreach Coordinator. I am the volunteer coordinator, event coordinator, and membership coordinator. I also do administration work for our Hotline and Rescue & Transport departments.
So without further ado, let’s get into what has happened this week at Liberty.
Animal Ambassador of the Week
Every week I’m going to highlight one (or in this case multiple) of the animal ambassadors you can meet at our facility during open hours. All of our animal ambassadors are non-releasable, for one reason or another.
Pictured above are Emmitt (red-tailed hawk), Kelvin (great horned owl), Nyx (barn owl), and Lobo (Harris’s hawk). Three out of the four came to us imprinted. To put it simply, when raptors are young they don’t know what species they are. At some point in their youth, they look at the species feeding them and identify with that species. A raptor raised in human care, without the proper precautions, will become imprinted on people and not know how to be a wild bird.
If you were to release an imprinted bird, they would keep coming back to people for food and social interaction, and don’t know how to hunt in the wild. I’ll explain later in the blog some of our tactics for preventing imprinting. But the lesson is, if you find an orphaned wild animal always bring it to a licensed wildlife rehabber!
Emmitt, Nyx, and Lobo were featured in our flighted bird programming this spring. Kelvin is still in training but will hopefully be ready to join the program in the fall. They get a break from doing their public performances during the summer, but you can see them in action come October 2022!
May and June are two of our busiest months, with sometimes as many as 100+ intakes every day. The two barn owls pictured above were rescued from a mining site when they bailed from their nest too early. They were in imminent danger from heavy machinery and getting them back into their nest wasn’t an option. Upon transferring them to their temporary triage cage, the bigger one (in the front) immediately started defending the smaller one (in the back). That’s a good sibling!
When we receive an orphaned raptor that doesn’t have any injuries, we put them in with foster parents of the same species to raise them. Foster parents are how we vastly reduce the chance of imprinting orphaned raptors. The foster parents will raise their brood to be wild birds and equip them with the skills needed to be successful in the wild. After being assessed and given a clean bill of health, these two were moved outside with foster parents “Tommy & Tess”.
Being the volunteer coordinator, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a plug for volunteering. Throughout their journey with Liberty Wildlife, these two orphans went through 4 of our volunteer departments. It started when someone called our hotline to report the owls are in imminent danger. Then, a rescue volunteer picked up the owls and brought them back to the facility. From there, one of our medical services volunteers assessed them and moved them outside to their foster parents. Now they are taken care of every day by our Daily Care team! If you’d like to get involved, fill out an application on our website here: https://libertywildlife.org/volunteer/apply-today/
Not Your Every-Day Spa
On May 4th, we received a fledgling male bald eagle from the Arizona Game & Fish Department. He had left the nest too early and was found on the ground. AZG&F put it back in the nest, but he bailed out of it again almost immediately. He was brought to us where we could assess, hydrate, and bulk him up before he goes back to his parents. AZG&F will pick him up early next week (after he’s had the best fine dining Liberty offers), and reunite him with his parents, where he will learn to be a wild eagle.
These past two weeks we’ve also held our bi-annual ‘Spa Day’. Twice a year, we go in and trim the beaks and talons of our animal ambassadors, since they don’t naturally wear down in captivity like they would in the wild. Pictured above is one of our bald eagles, Aurora, getting a beak & talon trim, as well as a dose of the West Nile vaccine (which they get once a year). Our beauticians wear jumpsuits and masks and don’t talk during spa day, so they aren’t recognizable and don’t ruin their relationship with the animals.
Posted by Nathan Thrash
Public Outreach Coordinator