Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – September 14, 2021
Things are abuzz at Liberty Wildlife….yep, it seems like something is always abuzz. The current something is preparing for this year’s Wishes for Wildlife, which wings its way to you on October 23rd. Again, this year we are totally virtual, making it possible for all of our out-of-staters to “attend” via the internet. YAY!
The invitation will be arriving electronically soon, and we hope you are as excited as we are about the program. You, for a mere $25 single ticket, will be able to access the videos that are being prepared just for you….videos that allow you to peek into the “behind the scenes” happenings on our campus. You get to see how training happens with our educational ambassadors, you will see the reveal of our newest education screech owl’s name…the cuteness will undo you. There will be a “sneak peak” about the documentary being currently filmed about Liberty Wildlife’s work, and many other surprises will be at your fingertips…Let’s not forget that you will get to participate in our one-of-a-kind silent auction, libation pull, and raffle.
Ideally, you could plan a party at your home with your nearest and dearest. If you are a local attendee you might opt for a guest appearance of Liberty Wildlife educators and their wildlife ambassadors to wow your guests in the comfort of your home or office…and one never knows what other surprises could happen. Secrets abound.
The incredible auction will be live a week ahead of time giving you plenty of time to peruse the items and create a bidding strategy for the many one-of-a-kind items. There will be trips and travel opportunities and real exciting experiences that we have all been yearning for over the past year. The auction also includes artwork, collectibles, garden items, and unique treasures and themed baskets galore. The libation pull allows you, for a pittance and 21 years of age, to vie for some genuinely good bottles of alcoholic beverages. Then there is the raffle…stay tuned for the details on this action packed part of the evening.
If you have an item to donate to the auction, please go to our website to fill out a donor form. It is not too late! Also, follow this link if you would like to get tickets or sponsorship information.
We look forward to sharing our annual fundraising event with each of you. This is our main fundraiser of the year and allows us to do what we do to nurture the nature of Arizona. We can’t do it without you…so please join us on October 23rd for a fun filled virtual event and include your friends and family.
This Week @ Liberty – September 14, 2021
The activity at the Intake Window has slowed considerably as the number of intakes per day has dropped. There has been a corresponding easing of stress in Triage and the ICU as well. Orphan Care will be winding down soon and things will become quite calm during the slow period of Fall and Winter, but this is when we regroup and push full speed into the Education season as the temperatures begin to drop to livable ranges. Of course, the intakes never really stop, and there is always a requirement for some activity in Med Services, but it’s great to be able to take a breath and see what else needs to be done in preparation for next year. A big thanks to all the volunteers and coordinators who helped get us through another record-breaking “Baby Bird Season”. Classes for Education volunteers begin soon, and not long thereafter, Jan will begin training new Medical Services volunteers. As Megan pointed out above, plans for this year’s Wishes for Wildlife are coming together. Now is the time for everyone interested to step up to the plate and swing for the fences.
Ok, pigeons may not be your favorite bird, but they can’t help what next they were laid in. They are good fliers and helped us win WWII, so calling them “winged rats” is not really fair. Recently we took in a pigeon that had been impaled with what appears to be a “big bore” blow dart. This is not the first bird we have seen that was shot in this manner. Personally, I think this is really cruel but the good news is the actual projectile is quite thin so if it doesn’t penetrate a major organ or artery, the bird might survive the attack. This guy looks to be one of the lucky ones and even better, he made it to Liberty where the Med Services staff was able to remove the dart and treat the wound.
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Quite a few of the bats we take in are youngsters which are not totally adept at self-feeding. On top of this, bats usually eat “on the wing”, swallowing insects as they fly through lights at night. One little pipistrelle that arrived recently was very malnourished and since we don’t have mosquitos or moths on hand, Kathleen was feeding it mealworms. The difficulty of this procedure is compounded because bats are on top of the rabies vector species list and anyone handling them is required to have had the rabies vaccine and wear gloves.
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Acorn Woodpeckers live in large groups in western oak woodlands storing thousands of acorns each year by jamming them into specially made holes in trees. Acorns typically are stored in holes drilled into a single tree, called a granary tree. One granary tree may have up to 50,000 holes in it, each of which is filled with an acorn in autumn. They will use human-made structures to store acorns, drilling holes in fence posts, utility poles, buildings, and even automobile radiators. Acorn woodpeckers in our state put 485 lbs. of acorns into a wooden water tank.
Multiple males and females will combine efforts to raise young in a single nest. In groups with more than one breeding female, the females put their eggs into a single nest cavity.
This little guy came to us as an orphan and will be released in a few weeks.
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Most birds have four toes on each foot. However, just as is several other species (including humans!), a genetic mutation sometimes occurs causing the formation of an extra digit to grow. This condition is known as “polydactyly” which comes from the Greek meaning “many fingers”.
Recently we took in a dove with this mutation, giving the bird five toes. The occurrence of supernumerary digits is fairly rare, usually seen in some barnyard birds like chickens.
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Several days ago, a Rescue/Transport volunteer brought in an adult red-tailed hawk. The bird was very thin and presented some difficulty with his left wing. Sarah performed the initial exam and assessment of his general condition. During this initial examination, she noticed something that lead her to the conclusion that the bird might have been shot. After weighing the bird and giving it fluids, it was taken to the radiology room where it was X-rayed. The resulting radiographs confirmed that he had in fact been shot with a .177 caliber pellet damaging his left ulna at the elbow. The pellet was subsequently surgically removed and was retained pending further investigation. It’s illegal to shoot hawks and all raptors.
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Turkey vultures are fascinating birds. Many people say they are ugly, but I like to remind them that the ancient Greeks defined the word beauty as “Fitness for function.” By this definition, turkey vultures are drop-dead gorgeous. From their heads, which have evolved without feathers to prevent offal from a carcass from causing infection, to their feet that are disinfected by the bird’s mutes used to aid in cooling, no part of the vulture is without a purpose.
Last week, a small adult turkey vulture was brought in with a seriously fractured wing. Unlike many other birds of prey, TVs don’t depend on speed or the ability to maneuver intricately to survive. They instead are among the only birds that rely on an extremely acute sense of smell to locate their food. In fact, once a turkey vulture has lifted off, it will extend its wings in a dihedral position and might not have to flap again for hours, soaring on rising columns of air called thermals while sniffing for the scent of a dead animal.
An X-ray of this vulture showed an old fracture of his left humerus that has already substantially healed. This might indicate an automobile collision, an occupational hazard to turkey vultures as well as other scavengers. They are prone to eating roadkill while it is still on the highway, unaware that another vehicle is approaching.
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Vet night birds
It appears mourning doves are learning from cottontails that the appropriate time for breeding is…ANYTIME! A little nestling mourning dove was brought to our window last week and everyone seems to agree, it’s very late in the season to have pre-fledgling doves falling from nests. But we can possibly chalk this up to another effect of climate change, causing not only circadian disruptions, but breeding cycle deviations as well. It’s long been established that various wildlife activity cues on the photoperiod, and it’s possible rising global temperatures are altering the entire life cycles of certain species. In any case, we are hoping this is an outlier and we don’t get many more late arrival baby birds!
Another patient that showed up for Vet Night was this little roadrunner that came in from the far northwest corner of Arizona. This little guy was brought down from the Havasu City area presenting certain behavioral abnormalities that are possibly neurological in nature. Otherwise intact, he is being treated for this and is under continuous observation. It’s unusual to see a roadrunner without a leg injury.
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Finally, for this week’s catch-all, I had four shots that aren’t in any group, but just informative and hopefully interesting.
Trying to capture the feeling that things are slowing down, the pictures of the enclosures (and brooder) in Triage, showing the difference between last week and two months ago. No bins stacking up near the brooder, and only one tag on one door on the wall of cages. When Vet Night was due to start, Susie announced that there were only seven birds to look at, a good sign that the intakes are dropping off.
In spite of the slower intake traffic, there are still a few remaining orphans that are getting taken care of by volunteers in Orphan Care, like the cage of orphan mockingbirds being fed at the end of the hospital wing hall. Orphan Care will be shutting down in a couple of weeks when Kathleen and her team will clean everything and shrink wrap it all until next spring.
And, I finally got a shot of the turtle that is living in our wetlands pond. I see him sunning himself on the fountain float on many afternoons, but every time I point the camera at him, he dives in. So I opted for a distant view and some photoshop magic to get him in the blog!
BTW, the 2021 issue of Wing Beats is now out! You can pick up a hard copy or view it online on the website (as soon as I post it, that is…)
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Posted by Terry Stevens
Liberty Wildlife Volunteer