Hoots, Howls, and Hollers – September 12, 2023
Gratitude for Cooler Temps and so much more…
I don’t want to repeat what we have heard over and over for the last month; however, it is so true that this has been the hottest summer ever for us at Liberty Wildlife and our environs—hottest and the driest and that is such an ugly combination. But there have been solutions.
I am making a big leap here, hoping against all hope, that indeed the fever has broken. Not only have all of the people suffered, but all of the animals and plants have too. A quick look around the place clearly spotlights the visible stress it has had on not only the fauna, but also the flora. Dry and crusty is the color of the season. You can almost see the gratitude in the desert plants that see the liquid end of the hose as a stopgap means to survival. Unfortunately, our cisterns have been depleted (we harvest rainwater here on our campus), and the hope of refilling any time soon is gloomy.
It is only appropriate to thank all of you who have taken the time to help by bringing in a critter in need. You took the time to recognize and act to bring comfort to wildlife in need of a little hand up. And there have been thousands of you – over 9,000 animals so far this year! So, thank you!
A huge thank you to Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust for stepping up, unsolicited, and recognizing the need for heat relief through a generous donation to Liberty Wildlife even though we don’t directly fit their priorities…they stepped up…kudos to them for their kindness and proactivity. They supported heat relief not directly related to the plants on our campus, nor the animals or human caregivers. This summer the strains were even felt by our equipment – including the giant walk-in freezer that holds much of the food for our resident wildlife. Repairs of that extent are not in the normal budget – so the aid came at just the right time.
And accolades go to Richard Goettl at Goettl AC & Plumbing who dropped by personally to see what our needs were after media coverage about our struggles with the heat…and he arrived with solutions! The next day the truck arrived with evaporative coolers. This is a great addition to our existing coolers, many of which have also been donated — like those grant funded by Avangrid Renewables. The sight of Sazi, the golden eagle, hunkered up to the evaporative cooler to the degree that her neck feathers were directed upward by the wafting breezes was enough to show the benefits…and the solutions. In the wild, the animals are allowed to deal with heat in more natural ways, but compromised animals confined to the safety of an enclosure have fewer options. These coolers were a God-send! So thank you!
There were also hundreds of you who pitched in with donations that helped address the additional demands for food, electricity, water, and medicines required to respond to the increase in needs. There were so many generous and thoughtful people who helped us through a “season” for the record books.
And let’s also acknowledge and thank the staff and volunteers who have suffered through the record summer. Despite the relentless sun exposure, high temperatures, flies, ants, mosquitoes, and other unpleasantries, this dedicated team still managed to feed, clean and hose down the hot and panting critters several more times a day than normal.
Turn off the heat, turn on the water from the skies…enough is enough. Our cisterns are thirsty and our desert plants need some color and the critters needs some moisture. But a huge thanks goes out to all of you who have made survival possible. I am not sure what we would have done without your thoughtful assistance. And, through all of this we have still been off the charts with positive accolades, highlights with our documentary film, and national and international recognition for the outstanding care we provide to wildlife.
So, to ALL OF YOU, thank you!
This Week @ Liberty – September 12, 2023
It’s hard to believe that a full year has passed since I transitioned from volunteer to staff. There are days it feels like no time has passed at all, and others where it feels like it’s been even longer. To think about all the blogs I wrote, all the pictures I’ve taken, all the stories I’ve heard (and all the stories I’ve yet to hear)…well, it’s been an incredible year. And I know I’ve said how grateful I am to all of you for taking the time read This Week @ Liberty and the feedback I’ve gotten, but I want you to know what an incredible feeling it is to have you here with us every other week.
So, cheers to the past year; to all the words written and all those to come. I hope I can continue to deliver a blog worthwhile of your time and all that Liberty Wildlife entails.
Nocturnal Creatures: Lesser Long-Nosed Bat
Lesser Long-Nosed Bats are one of those creatures you hear about but don’t see often. Bats in general, I believe, are an animal that unless you’re out looking for them—or in an area where they are prevalent—you’re unlikely to see them.
That’s partly because they’re nocturnal; they’ll be out after sunset to feed on plants from the saguaro cactus when they open. Not only are those flowers light in color, their strong scent helps the bat to find them. Accompanied with their long, slender nose, their long tongue helps them to reach inside the flower for its sweet nectar.
In fact, these bats feed exclusively on fruit and nectar from night-blooming cacti (saguaro and organ pipe). Which means they’re only found in southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, western Mexico, Baja California and parts of Central America. These habitats also allow them to roost in caves and mines, and provide the right temperature for them to thrive.
And, believe it or not, these bats can live up to twenty years! That’s a long time for such a little creature.
Still, it’s nice to know they can survive for so long, knowing many of these animals are threatened or endangered. So if you’re ever out in the Arizona desert looking at the stars, keep an eye out…you might just see one of these little flying mammals drinking nectar on a saguaro.
Greater Roadrunners in the Arizona Desert
Usually, the first thing I think of when I hear the word ‘roadrunner’ is Wile E. Coyote and his infamous escapade in trying to catch said roadrunner. That cartoon was a Saturday morning ritual, among a few others, and I grew up thinking roadrunners were insanely fast and could outrun anything.
As we all know, real life is quite different. Roadrunners are fast—about twenty-six miles—whereas coyotes can run almost forty-three miles per hour. And yes, roadrunners run just like their namesake. In fact, they’re about two feet long from bill to tail feathers, and when they do run, they do so low to the ground with their distinctive X-shaped feet. It’s one reason why they hold such a special place in Native American and Mexican legends. Known for their courage, speed and strength, they’re known as symbols to many tribes to ward off evil.
It’s one of many reasons these birds are so incredible, and who’ve adapted to the desert heat in remarkable ways. Their prey, which includes mammals and reptiles (including venomous lizards and scorpions) supply them with a moisture rich diet that alleviates their need to find water consistently. Like other birds of prey, they too have a gular flutter to help dissipate heat; they do this by fluttering the unfeathered area beneath their chin.
Their biggest flex, though, is their use of a highly concentrated salt they secrete through a gland just in front of their eye. Doing this helps to use less water than excreting it through their kidneys or their urinary tract.
If you’ve lived in Arizona for any length of time, there’s a large chance you’ve seen one in your neighborhood. Their distinctive markings make them hard to miss. Their range has been expanding, though, towards southwest Missouri and even western Arkansas, where they hang in scrubby woods or pine forests.
Either way, these birds are remarkable all on their own. Make sure to keep an eye out for them the next time you’re driving through your neighborhood!
Barn Owl Release @ Lake Pleasant
One of the most rewarding experiences of being in wildlife rehab is releasing those same animals who come through our doors. It doesn’t matter if they simply came in as orphans or with fractured bones that needed mending, watching these animals realize they’re free—and make quick work of doing so—is an indescribable feeling.
Two weekends ago, a hundred different raptors were released by staff and volunteers alike all over Arizona. Those raptors were Barn Owls, Coopers Hawks and Red-Tailed Hawks, to name a few. And while I can’t speak for all of them, I can speak from my own incredible experience. Accompanied with a friend, we made the trek to Lake Pleasant National Park at sunset. With two Barn Owls in tow, we wanted to keep in mind that not only are they nocturnal (hence the release at sunset), but they’re also second cavity nesters, meaning they don’t build their own nests, they find them in the cacti and caves and ledges—available in multitudes—at Lake Pleasant. It’s one of many things we consider when releasing raptors.
Plus, there’s plenty of food and water to go around. Case in point: we passed a kettle (a group of birds wheeling and circling in the air) of Turkey Vultures, Black Vultures and Ravens (one can assume there was carrion in the valley…what kind, we didn’t see).
Once we found that perfect spot overlooking the lake, we released our two Barn Owl friends into their new life. We wished them luck on this new adventure of wildness and life, watched them fly away, and left with happy hearts and smiles, knowing we gave them the best chance we could at this new venture.
Notable Mention: If you haven’t been to Lake Pleasant National Park, I highly recommend you do so. Not only will you get an opportunity to see raptors of all kinds, we also have donkeys (called burros) who roam there, too. This adorable foal was on the side of the main road (so be careful while you drive!) and struck a quick pose for me while we made our way home.
While this blog is taking place after our first official day back to Public Hours, I am, of course, still going to mention you can come visit our animal ambassadors again on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9am-11pm. That’ll change soon too, once the weather cools off. Still, we’re happy August was a productive month of projects and cleaning. We’re happy with the facility and for you to join us once again in learning about Arizona’s native wildlife.
Without further ado, here are this week’s notable mentions:
Laura attempts to give Marshmellow some medicine and all the goats want in on the action (and Kahlua has an adorable photobomb to boot) (1 picture)
Lizzie the Great-Horned Owl can’t quite seem to get all her food down… (1 picture)
Millie the California Condor is eager to say hello! (2 pictures)
Our Long-Nosed Snake and Coachwhip Snake have shed their skin and are healing well in our ICU (3 pictures)
A Turkey Vulture with a pin gets physical therapy (2 pictures)
An Elf Owl is brought into Triage (2 pictures)
A Garter Snake had a close encounter with a weed whacker, but all is good as new with some stitches (2 pictures)
Alpo takes a snooze beneath a chair (1 picture)
Until next time!
Posted by Acacia Parker
Public Outreach Coordinator