This blog goes under the heading of “with a little help from our friends”.
Over the past three years we have related stories, most of them sad, about baby eagles inflicted with tick paralysis from the Orme nest at the confluence of the Salt and Verde River at the Ft. McDowell Indian Community. For three consecutive years the solid pair of eagles laid and hatched three eggs…bountiful to say the least. Sadly all nine of those babies found their ways to Liberty Wildlife and only the last one last year survived. They were discovered to be infested with tiny ticks and most of them bailed out of the nest before fledging and died due to the paralysis caused by the ticks and difficulties suffered when they fell long distances.
The eagle experts at Game and Fish were finally able to get permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take down the nest….something that only is allowed after a good case can be shown for continued failures. Despite all efforts to rid the nest of the ticks, removal was the only good choice.
Joe Miller was asked to help in this endeavor and began building two triangular shaped platforms 7ft X 7 ft. X 7 ft. In the meantime, Tuk Jacobson of Game and Fish climbed the tree and with assistance of two truck jacks and other biologists was able to lift the infested nest out of the tree and shove it to a waiting 20 X 20 ft. tarp, pretty much filling it up. They gathered all of the other pieces strewn by the fall and loaded in trucks to take out to be burned…hopefully removing all ticks from the area for good.
The next step was to find two suitable new locations for the nest platforms. One of the selected trees was 50 ft. from the original nest and the other one was about 100 ft. from the tick infested one. The platforms were stabilized in the best part of the trees and bundles of sticks that had been gathered from the Millers’ home and the area surrounding the new nests became the beginnings of a potential home for the pair and their offspring. Grass and leaves were packed into the holes and a decent looking abode resulted, but the finishing touches had to be supplied by the lovely couple…..and only time would tell if they liked the real estate or not….what do we know about curb appeal?
On Christmas Day, Liberty Wildlife volunteer, Claudia and a friend decided to see what progress if any had been made. Using scopes they were pretty sure that they could see the selected nests and that it appeared some work had been done. No sign of eagles that day, but hopes were high. The following week…just one week…Joe and Jan went to check on them and voila, the tree 100 ft. from the downed nest had been enhanced by a full three ft. Someone had been very busy. The eagles were back and had chosen the artificial nest closest to the Verde River and all signs are good that the nest will be occupied this year.
So keep your fingers crossed that in the next few weeks the biologists will report to us that the pair is down on the nest and with a little help from their friends, the solid pair will fledge three babies….tick free, happy and healthy and with no need to visit us this year.
This Week at Liberty
The intake total for the year now stands at 65.
Believe it or not, things are kind of slow right now, which is a good thing as we take on projects for the upcoming busy season. Training is going ahead in most areas and soon we’ll begin adding volunteers for the Orphan Care area (Liberty’s “neonatal care” wing…) Repairs and modifications are being made to some of the structures and the ED team is practicing up a storm. And although it’s not terribly busy at the intake window, animals still come in at a slow but steady pace. Plus, some of our volunteers make personal progress that encourages us all… ————–
Cottontails don’t seem to have (or require!) a season for breeding and we have gotten in several baby bunnies lately. A couple came in last week, and one very thoughtful lady, Maggie Freund, brought in one today, along with the super-plush and well equipped basket/carrier she made for him to stay in. I wish all people carried for wildlife so much!
A pretty sharp-shinned hawk arrived yesterday and was assessed and treated by Diane and Karen. Presenting some wing damage, she received some fluids and a wing wrap and is now in a brooder for cage rest and observation. The color of her eyes indicate a young bird and this might be a help in the healing process.
This pretty snowy egret came in recently with injuries from an unknown source. However the nature of the wounds (small punctures) could be indicative of an attack by a hawk from which he somehow escaped. His condition is good and at this writing, he is doing well!
OK, this is NOT the result of a tornado hitting Scottsdale, nor is it a replica of the Beirut Holiday Inn. This is one of the oldest flight enclosures at Liberty in the process of being rebuilt. Art Smith is heading up the project which should be done in time for the expected rush of raptor orphans in a few weeks.
One of the innovative tools our Education group uses to train new volunteers is called “Practice Partners” in which veteran experienced Ed presenters team up with people new to the Ed group to help and mentor them as they add birds to their list of “sign-offs” – that is, birds they are qualified to handle at presentations. They get to spend time with each bird and rehearse their presentations with their Practice Partners before going live at a public event. These volunteers were out in the front area with Linda and Wendy on Sunday afternoon. (note the flock of watchful feral lovebirds behind the peregrine falcon!)
Most volunteers might remember John Spencer (Wendy Bozzi’s son) as that little kid who has been hanging around Liberty since he was a youngster, helping his mom (and all the other volunteers) and learning what was involved in being a Liberty volunteer. He has helped in several areas from Daily Care to Education and has done a great job for years. A few months ago he joined the National Guard and has just finished basic training. John plans to return to Liberty as soon as his obligation to the military is over. A dedicated young man, we are lucky to have him as a volunteer! (As soon as he gets a new address, I’ll get it from Wendy and post it. He loves getting mail from Liberty!)