Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – October 09, 2017
Today I want to honor four unsung heroes.
Let me start first with Sam Jones, our steadfast ASU intern who has worked tirelessly all summer and continuing this fall….and we hope forever…to initiate and complete a very important project, the vegetating and “decorating” of our walk through aviary. There are gabion planters, made by Sam. There are raised bed planters, made by Sam. And, there are beautiful native plants, picked, purchased and planted by Sam. It has taken on the feeling of Sam’s Place, and it is lovely. All it needs now are the non-releasable animals to populate it. Thanks Sam for all of your hard and creative work.
Then there is Ford Doran who came to us with a desire to help. How perfect that he happened to be a landscape architect and was willing to design the badly needed lighting for the trees around the wetland. By himself, he cased the area, researched the best options for what we needed, priced all of the hardware and then made a plan. That in itself would have been off the charts, but he took it a step farther. In the hot sun, and when he could squeeze in the time, he dug the trenches, assembled the hardware, trimmed offensive tree limbs and installed the system. It is lovely. Thank you, Ford, for going beyond the call of duty.
So not to be missed, is Robert Mesta. Realizing that 6 ½ acres of land from a newly disturbed parcel would spawn a gazillion weeds, he took on the job of attacking the offending flora. Also forging through sun and heat, he has singlehandedly removed from the ground, bagged and discarded bags and bags of non-native plants….back breaking, sweaty, and thorny work. Now the place looks spit shined and as beautiful as it was meant to be. This is hard, unpleasant work. It is easy to slack off. But not Mr. Mesta. No weed is safe in his path. No invasive stands a chance. With an eye for what makes a piece of land right, he slaves in the desert landscape. And, oh boy, are we grateful! It is lovely. Thank you, thank you!
And, there is one more fella that needs to be honored. That would be Igor, one of our foster parent great horned owls. A little background will help explain his heroism. He was snatched from a nest with his sibling. Both were horribly malnourished (the sibling died) and as a result of this early mistreatment his folding fractures from a calcium deficiency have left him with horribly droopy wings…clearly non-releasable. He became an educational ambassador and was a huge hit on the circuit for about 16 years. Then he turned. He began to hate all male handlers and because of this aggressive behavior, it was thought that a job change to foster parent was in order. What a successful move. He has been a foster parent for the last 15 years and has raised 30 to 40 great horned owl babies a year since then. You do the math. I need to mention that he has also outlived 3 wives. I am honoring him for his protective behavior and his teaching expertise. If you could see him with his military gait as he patrols the grounds of his territory, you would applaud and respect him too. I must add that the world would be a lesser place if he had cavalierly been put to sleep because of his deformities…just sayin’.
So thanks to each of you, Sam, Ford, Robert, and Igor for being who you are and for being generous of your time and spirit! You are each hugely appreciated.
This Week @ Liberty – October 09, 2017
It’s that time of the year again when A), the air conditioning comments change from “It’s sooo hot!” to “It’s freezing in here!” and B), a lot of the volunteers have to find something to do to stay busy. It’s tough trying to keep up with the changing seasons, but at least we can re-channel our efforts towards other projects and clean/repair equipment that we didn’t have time to maintain during the spring and summer. We are still trying to figure out how best to operate in our new home which isn’t as easy as one might think. And, as always, the animals keep arriving, although thankfully in smaller numbers. Life at Liberty Wildlife is, like life everywhere, a learning experience… But although many aspects of the operation are new and exciting, some remain the same – people still shoot birds, fishing gear still threatens aquatic creatures, and eagles still have to be banded prior to release, Here’s what we saw recently:
When the three brown pelicans we took in were finally ready to go back to the ocean, Jan and Joe Miller offered to drive them part way to meet some people from SeaWorld San Diego near Yuma. (I guess having a minivan has it’s drawbacks!) In any case, there is an educational TV show called Sea Rescue that covers events involving marine animal rescue, rehabilitation and return to the wild and they came up last week to recreate the launch of the trip to release the big birds. Jan was kind enough to be interviewed about the part she and Joe played in returning the birds to their Pacific habitat.
From kestrels to red tails, and from coots to wigeons, no matter what the species, the volunteer vets and Medical Services people are ready to offer the best possible medical treatment for all intakes. Although all arrivals don’t survive their injuries, our release rate is still remarkably better than the average for rehabilitation groups.
A couple of VERY young desert tortoises came in recently. These tiny little animals have very little chance of survival on their own so we give them a helping hand in their first year of life. Unable to hibernate successfully as babies, we will keep them safe and fed until they can be transferred to AZGFD next year for ultimate placement.
The red eared slider came in after ingesting two fish hooks in a local lake. One was removed externally, while then other required surgery to be extracted. Sliders are not native and will be placed in a safe environment apart from the wild populations.
Last week Carl brought in a spotted bat. Larger than most of the bats we take in, this guy is quite impressive. They can reach a length of 12 cm and a wingspan of 35 cm. with a weight of about 15 g. and has three distinctive white spots on its black back. With ears that can grow up to 4 cm, it is said to have the largest ears of any bat species in North America.
The golden eagle we took in from near Kingman not long ago is nearing release. Tuk, from AZGFD, came down last week to record measurements and install an identification band on the big girl. In the past only bald eagles were handled this way, but recently, it was decided to keep better track of the golden eagles in the state to determine their status and population numbers. Measurements of beak dimensions, leg and talon size, and weight are made and recorded at the time of the identification banding. Our new 180 ft. flight enclosure is a very useful rehabilitation tool for these large raptors. Not only does it allow them to fly farther than in our old facility, it has a curve that forces the bids to bank and turn which aids in their flight development prior to release. The bird is doing well at this point and should be taken back north for release very soon.
Posted by Terry Stevens