Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – November 21, 2023
So Much to Learn from a Feather
If you follow our calendar and events, you will recognize that we have been very busy. One of the fun happenings this past week was a visit from the ASU Biomimicry class.
I have written in the past about my fascination for the study of biomimicry because it adds so much “juice” to the importance of our work at Liberty Wildlife related to conserving the natural world. Those who study this science have found so many solutions to worldly problems…solutions that already were working in nature as a result of Mother Nature’s clever efforts. A very familiar example of biomimicry is the invention of Velcro by a ‘biomimic-er’ who had burrs stick to his socks as he hiked. Brilliant observation and successful employment of mimicking nature to produce the practical and useful Velcro products.
When the ASU class visited this past week, they made a stop in the Non-Eagle Feather Repository. There, they were introduced to an eagle down feather. As the feather was placed on a student’s palm, the increase of warmth accompanying it was obvious. The conclusion was that the down feathers of birds, particularly geese and ducks, was a natural insulation for these animals in the wild. Now, coats, vests, gloves and other outer-wear were and are traditionally filled with down feathers as were comforters and bed clothing in cold climates.
Then along came the inventor who said, I can make some improvements here that eliminate the issue of water soaking the clothing and flattening the insulation properties of down. The result now is, voila…synthetic down! This synthetic down is made to mimic the qualities of goose or duck down by copying closely the structure of the down feather. While the natural down is less effective by a lot when it gets wet, the synthetic down has been designed to be only moderately impacted when wet. In nature this is less of an issue, since a bird’s outer feathers protect it from massive amounts of moisture it encounters, so its natural down does a dandy job of protection. The synthetic down just had to get around that protective quality of outer feathers. And, it has.
Hats off to human ingenuity! While study and use indicate that natural down has a better “warmth to weight ratio,” and it is said to “pack down smaller and loft up bigger”, science and technology will have a little work ahead of them to totally master the overall insulation capacity of the natural down feather.
But, the terrific upside to this invention is longevity of the fiber and best yet, no animals are harmed as a result. That has to be the win-win here!
Biomimicry studies nature’s solutions to everyday needs. “Biomimicry encourages conservation for ecosystems and its inhabitants, because they hold much of the knowledge we need to survive and thrive.” These students from ASU were engaged by what they saw and learned at Liberty Wildlife, and hopefully they will take this passion forward for the good of all.
This was just one visit to our campus this past week. Each one can reap the same kind of learning and enthusiasm. We encourage you to visit whenever possible as nothing really stays the same for long on our campus.
This Week @ Liberty – November 21, 2023
Is it really Thanksgiving on Thursday?! I’m not sure where the time went, but it has flown by me at a speed far faster than I’ve been able to keep up with. It feels like yesterday that I told myself I’d start Christmas shopping…would you like to take a guess on whether I’ve actually done that or not? The answer, my friends, is a very hard NO. Because one day has bled into the next and into the next, and the other day was actually the beginning of November, and now we’re here, and I’m already late to the party.
It doesn’t mean we’ve been late to any of our own parties, though! We’ve had a slew of on-site events these past few weeks, including field trips, biomimicry classes, different volunteer projects, a Cocktails and Condors event and our first annual Native American Culture and Wildlife Festival.
It all went off without a hitch, which means we’re super excited to get to have more of them next year.
Bald Eagle: Continued Care
On September 26, I wrote about one of our newest (at the time) intakes of the year. As a twenty year old Bald Eagle who was banded by AZ Game and Fish in 2003—who has nested and produced chicks near Saguaro Lake since 2009—he’s experienced a whirlwind of care to ensure he gets back out into the wild.
As always, with wildlife and life in general, there’s been a few changes. The original plan our staff and volunteer veterinarians decided on was to pin the radius and ulna fractures; with help from an external fixator (stabilizing frame to help keep the bones in position), we hoped that would be enough to heal the fracture, and in turn, the open wound at the site. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The wound became infected (which is not unusual), and the pin had to be taken out. Alongside another surgery, Dr. Lamb was able to get the bone in place, and readjust the external fixator.
It quickly became obvious this process wasn’t working either, and once again, the plan had to change. Dr. Lamb and Dr. Goe opted for a bone graft—a process where a transplanted bone is used to replace the damaged bone. It’s been a few weeks since the newest surgery, and while things are looking good, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Having been bandaged for several weeks, our not so small friend needs physical therapy to help extend the muscles of his right wing. He also requires continued medications, like antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, to assist with his healing.
We have a few more weeks before we know if the bone graft took, and the bone shows if it’s healing the way we’d like.
Like most things in life, good things come to those who wait. And we’re hopeful that giving him the time he needs to heal, alongside this new procedure, that he’ll be in a flight cage to test those things soon enough.
New Builds Around Campus
I know I told you all ages ago that we closed for August to build things around campus and to repair what we needed. Well, as it turns out, we are a constant stream of fixing things and building things (guess it goes with being a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center). Though we’ll always have some fixer upper projects, we do have a few exciting ones we’re stoked to talk about.
The first is a brand new one-hundred foot flight cage currently being built next to our one-hundred-and-eighty food flight cage. This is a wonderful addition to our rehabilitation side; flight cages are the last step before our raptors are released. In these mews (as they are usually called), raptors are able to fly back and forth to build their flight muscles, and ensure they’re capable hunters. While we do currently have ten flight cages, this large addition is immensely helpful as it allows us to put more birds in one location, and utilize others for different species.
The next exciting build is a new Orphan Care ‘building’ located on our rehabilitation side. As with most years we’ve been at this location, it seems we see more and more orphans coming to our doorstep. What was once adequate space for these growing birds—and our volunteers—is no longer the case. Even after trying a different location already available on site, it became obvious something newer, and a little bigger, is needed. Concrete has been poured, and water lines as well as electrical, are getting installed shortly.
We’ve got some time before both are done, so stay tuned for their final reveals!
As always, I appreciate you making it here and hanging with us at Liberty Wildlife. We’ve had a few on-site events some of you have joined us for, to which we are eternally grateful. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for your continued eye out there, and your support here on-site.
Without further ado, here are this week’s notable mentions:
- Quannah the Turkey Vulture says hi to guests at ANDAZ in Scottsdale (1 picture)
- Several raptors are dropped off and it’s all hands on deck by our medical service volunteers (2 pictures)
- ICU has slowed down considerably these past few months; rest assured, we’re hot on the job no matter how big or small (3 pictures)
- Millie the California Condor has decided lounging on a teeny tiny tree is better than the sturdy perches we have for her (1 picture)
Once again, thanks so much for taking the time to read. Remember to come say hi to us and your favorite animal ambassadors Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday’s from 10am-1pm.
Until next time!
Posted by Acacia Parker
Public Outreach Coordinator