This is a story about Hope…but not exactly what you are thinking.
Thanks to a glorious weekend I was able to do some long needed hiking in two of our city parks. It felt a little like what I think being let out of jail would feel like! I might have been a bit out of shape as the long summer months make ‘in town hiking’ less than inviting for me. As I say those words I realize what a wimp I have become, and it didn’t help to hear an article on the radio related to migrating birds.
The story that caught my attention was about a bird called Hope, a whimbrel. This member of the curlew family migrates in flocks from the northern Amazon through coastal areas to its breeding ground in the Arctic tundra and back. This in itself is mind boggling to me, but many birds take extreme trips in their migration efforts that are worthy of awe in themselves.
With four particular Whimbrels, however, researchers were able to find out some pretty amazing statistics. The Center for Conservation Biology in Williamsburg, Virginia was able to study the behavior of some whimbrels that had been tagged with radio transmitters. The study hadn’t counted on the fact that hurricane Irene was going to intersect with the path of these birds as they made their ways through the Caribbean. How animals act in hurricane conditions has been looked at on shore. They hunker down, hang on to trees, move to higher ground, or find a safe warm hole to crawl into. But, since it is hard to predict when storms are going to happen in time to prepare for studies, not much has been learned as far as migrating birds and hurricanes go. This year hurricane Irene provided the opportunity.
The whimbrels were in the middle of their migration when hurricane Irene became a reality. One of them had been clocked traveling at 35-40 miles per hour nonstop for five days. When he hit hurricane headwinds, his flight slowed to 9 miles an hour for 27 straight hours. The researchers were simultaneously worried and awed…will they make it through and how can they keep up like this? When they did make it through the storm they came out with a tailwind going 90 miles an hour. When one of the birds named Hope made it to Virginia she was able to suffer Irene again more safely in a marsh, refueling for the next leg of the journey. Fueling themselves is critical to the non-stop flight to finish their Herculean journey to their breeding grounds.
This is the third year researchers have followed Hope. They are aware of the stops that she makes in small out of the way spots that afford her and many others to fuel up for their flights and to rest for their fights through unscheduled adversities. But, Hope also breeds in a small out of the way place in the arctic. Not only is the information that has been learned about their strong flights enlightening, it most definitely speaks to the importance of not disturbing those small places. It makes a great case for protecting these little bits of turf that are not necessarily so charismatic on their own but are the only salvation for Hope and her kin. Simply put, they are critical in the greater natural scheme of things.
It is all connected….this planet we live on, and as John Muir said, “When we tug at a single thing in Nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.”
This Week at Liberty
The yearly total is now at 3116.
As was posted previously, the intake window is slowing down considerably (but never EVER stops!), but this gives us time to work on other important projects at the facility. Our volunteer picnic is approaching, as is the Born 2 B Wild bike run for 2012, plus we’re training new volunteers in Education, Med Services, and Daily Care, all the while tending to the injured animals that do actually come in to our care. Here’s a look at the past week…
Lots of Eagle Scouts perform projects for Liberty and another one started last weekend. The two candidates worked with their troop leaders and Joe Miller to plan a paving project on the north side of the facility. The footers were dug and the batter boards cut and framed up as Aurora stood on her perch and watched the activity of the Eagle Scouts. The cement will be coming this week and I’ll try to have some photos of the finished project next week.
Every few weeks, Carol Suits (our Volunteer Coordinator) gives an orientation to new volunteers. They are told about the organization, provided a tour of the facility, and given their options as to what positions are available. This is their first step in the process of becoming a Liberty WIldlife volunteer. Last Saturday, the group got to see just how busy an operation this is!
In addition to the new folks coming on board, Linda Scott is also running a class for new Education volunteers. During the week, they go through a classroom type course, and on the weekends, they learn handling procedures and techniques. Our staff is highly professional on every level!
The work of the Medical Services team is never really over, and this week we got in another GHO with some head trauma causing vision problems. A little screech owl also seems to have sustained a head injury and required some help while feeding. Both are under cage rest and close observation to determine the best course of treatment at this point. One of our little roadrunners with a broken leg is still in the ICU but the cast on his leg seems to be helping him to improve. Updates to come…
Our partnership with the Verde Canyon Rail Road is ticking along wonderfully! Joe, Sonora, and some other volunteers were providing the passengers with a great educational experience again last weekend as they road the rails north from Clarkdale to Perkinsville. The people can not only see wild bald eagles from the train, but learn about the birds close up in detail as Joe explains about eagles in Arizona. The VCRR is truly a treasure for our state!