Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – October 26, 2021
We are now in what I consider one of the “success” parts of our mission…releases! Yes, the process can be lengthy and sometimes the outcome isn’t what we are going for, but for the most part releasing an injured, orphaned or ill animal back into the wild after a period of vulnerability is the thrill of a life time. They are going home. They are back to performing the job they were designed and destined to do. They are fitting back into the fabric from which they were torn . That is what we are hoping for. That is success.
This weekend was the culmination of the 28th annual Wishes for Wildlife event. Our semi-virtual event was another wonderful success. Here’s what is so good about the format of this event. You can participate in the comfort of your home or the home of a friend or family member. You can watch the virtual program, bid on items online, and you can support the mission of Liberty Wildlife from wherever you are. I imagine, as long as you have wifi, you could participate around a campfire or on the top of a mountain, on a beach front, or the side of a river. If your phone worked and you bought in, you could be a part of the program.
This year’s event featured a very, very nice auction, raffle and libation pull. The auction produced themed baskets that were all big hits and highly sought after. There were fun trips, golfing experiences, antiques, jewelry, vintage items and one of-a-kind imported treasures. And, so it seems, many other enticing items to tempt you.
Here’s the best part. The virtual behind-the-scenes program enlightened the audience taking them places that not many people are allowed to go. The close up look at the ringtail (our state mammal), the announcement of the name for our newest education ambassador, Pluto, the western screech owl, and a close look at the Herculean efforts of our foster parents and the orphans of the season surely justified the intent of the fundraiser. The event also included a special peek at our upcoming documentary and a fantastic early look at some exciting things the future holds for Liberty Wildlife. If you weren’t able to view the program on the night of the event, you can click here to watch it!
If you were fortunate enough to be at a “party” in someone’s home, you got even more. Our education team appeared with ambassador wildlife to give an up close and personal look into the eyes of the likes of hawks, owls and eagles. The lucky ones could ask questions, get photos taken and soak in the vibes from creatures of the wild.
The surprise of the evening was the release of a rehabilitated great horned owl baby/orphan. People have written back with rave reviews of the evening. Those that were fortunate enough to get up close have professed a life changing moment.
I am pretty sure we couldn’t ask for more. But, added to that external success is the practical -success of our event…a success that allows us to help another 12 to 13,000 more animals next year. That is sincerely a success, and we thank you, each of you, for the part you have played in making what we do possible.
See you at the 29th annual Wishes for Wildlife next year…if not before!
This Week @ Liberty – October 26, 2021
Autumn has come to Arizona (well, sort of…) and signs are everywhere – highway closures are in full swing, car license plates are changing colors, and Costco has had Christmas stuff up for almost two months now! Seriously, there is a new class of Education volunteers going on, intakes have slowed to a crawl, and most of our orphans from last spring have been released or will be soon. Releases are what we live and work for and are always the best thing we do (even though they only last 4 seconds!) This is the best time of the year to come out to Rob and Melani Walton Campus of Liberty Wildlife and tour the facility. We have some new exhibits and have spruced up some old ones. There are more eagles, more hawks, more owls, and more to see and do. Meet some old friends and make some new ones while helping a good cause. We’d love to see you!
As has been previously mentioned, on Tuesday we have several veterinarians and vet students present for “Vet Night” (although now we also have vets in attendance on Saturday mornings.) Since several of the vet students are at a place in their training that they can’t come here on Tuesdays, the bulk of the work has befallen Jan, Dr. Wyman and Dr. Salhuana. What gives them a chance to keep up with all the intakes is the fact that we are getting a lot fewer patients arriving right now.
Recent admissions include a barn owl with a leg injury that was reviewed by Dr. Wyman last week.
Another bird that was checked by Dr. Wyman was a sharp-shinned hawk with a fractured wing (see the x-ray). The good news is that despite the ulna being broken in two places, the radius remained intact. With an expert wrap, the bird’s prognosis is fairly good.
We also had a little screech owl up for treatment. He presented what appeared to be some sort of abscess on his head that was cleaned and irrigated by Dr. Salhuana.
(Look for 11 pictures.)
Golden Eagle comes in
A game official from AZGFD contacted us last week about an adult golden eagle they had found near Kingman. A Rescue/Transport volunteer was sent to meet the bird near Flagstaff and bring him to Liberty for treatment. The patient presented signs of neurological distress as well as being quite undernourished. Possible causes for the issues are ingestion of poison complicated by aspergillosis. We’re awaiting the results of blood tests to confirm the presence of toxins and/or asper. In the meantime, he is receiving cage rest, fluids, and a healthy diet. Hopefully, updates will follow…
(Look for 5 pictures.)
A variety of intakes
A wide variety of species arrived for care in the last two weeks. An adult great blue heron was admitted last Tuesday and is currently residing in the ICU. I very nearly ended my airline pilot career on my first great blue heron rescue years ago. I always thought that they grabbed their prey with their beak, not realizing that they stab the fish and then flip it up to swallow it. Holding the large bird around the body and grasping the neck below the head, the bird turned and thrust his beak at me, hitting me about ¾ of an inch to the side of my eye! Another inch to my left and I’d have been the first professional pilot since Wiley Post to wear an eye-patch.
Another arrival of note was this common poorwill. We see quite a few members of the Caprimulgid family, but most of them are lesser night-hawks. Poorwills look very similar and both are likely to be found on the ground, using their natural camouflage to avoid predators. This ground-hugging practice leads a lot of them to be “rescued” by well-meaning people who want to help a bird they found on the ground.
A beautiful young Swainson’s hawk arrived presenting behavior that is generally the result of human imprinting. The bird came in from another facility and shows other evidence that it had been in the possession of a falconer prior to arriving at Liberty. Besides the behavioral anomalies, the bird is largely intact but may have been fed a diet conducive to bone malformation which is unfortunately not uncommon with birds raised in captivity.
Two tortoises not of the desert variety also came to the window. One was an African Sulcata that weighed close to 85 lbs. The other was this little guy, a Hermann’s tortoise. Both are non-native and usually start as someone’s pet. The Hermann’s are sold by exotic pet dealers and come from the area around the Mediterranean. This guy was found on walkabout and is most likely an escaped pet.
(Look for 6 pictures)
As mentioned above, we took in two sulcata tortoises last week, including this big guy and this tiny baby. They are very cute when they hatch and people love to watch them grow. The problem is that they keep growing…and growing…and growing! Not only do they become very large and require lots of food, but they love digging and can be very destructive, damaging yards, fences and even houses. They have been known to structurally undermine the foundations of buildings. Add to that a very long lifespan (70 years or more) and you might want to rethink acquiring one of these cute little guys as a pet.
(Look for 3 pictures.)
This week, the catch-all feature displays the new signage for our Education birds on the west side of the facility. Hopefully, this will enhance the experience for our visitors who tour the grounds to meet our collection of non-releasable birds and animals.
Junior, our resident black-crowned night heron, has a new home! This exciting pavilion which includes his own water feature, will allow him to be displayed while still allowing access to the aviary outside of the west classroom.
(Look for 2 pictures.)
The Way We Were
Our mission hasn’t changed much over the last 40 years, but certain things have improved with time. The California condors still come in, but a bit less frequently now. Our ability to treat them successfully has improved in the new facility, along with the access to our own equipment such as our X-ray machine.
As we just completed another “Wishes for Wildlife”, I thought it’d be a good time to remind everyone what we used to think was a “big event” in terms of fundraising: the Tempe Festival of the Arts, or “Mill Avenue” as we called it. This was a major event for us back in the nineties, not only raising some much-needed funds, but also providing a great way to season the Education volunteers as they fielded questions for three days straight, twice each year.
(Look for 4 pictures.)