This Week (or thereabouts) at Liberty July 9, 2012

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Lately I have been noticing some changes in my neighborhood…changes that appear to be connected.  One has to do with house cats lying in yards, sitting on walls or lolling atop the family car.  (I’ll come back to outside cats at another time.) For many years I never saw any house cats outside of the house….but I did see coyotes. Then I began to notice for the first time in years, black-tailed jackrabbits (actually hares and not rabbits at all) catching air as they bounced away from me and my dogs as we walked in the morning…once again does this have to do with coyotes?  The third thing I have noticed is that I no longer hear the yips and yowls of the coyotes or see them stalking us from a distance….no more coyotes….thus house cats and jack rabbits are surviving predation…..connections?

I have watched the change in population of jack rabbits for years.  Some years the abundance is quite obvious….other years the absence is palpable.  While they are solitary in general, when they find abundant food it is easy to see small “herds” of them feeding on cactus, sagebrush and native grasses.  For the last few years, I have seen none….but I did see coyotes…connections?

Just the other day we received a baby jack rabbit in need of a little rehabbing…..the first one in some time, and it is pretty darned cute!  The babies are precocial, dependent on their parents for a much shorter time than their cousins, the cotton tail rabbits.  Hares are not born in burrows like the cotton tail but in a depression/scrape in the ground called a form.  The baby’s coat is darker than the adults but changes to the lighter tan as it grows older.  It will end up with very large black tipped ears which are designed to dissipate heat, a tail that is black on top and white on the bottom and a pair of impressive back legs that carry it great distances when it feels threatened and allows it to thump the ground to sound an alarm…just like Thumper!

Their population waxes and wanes based on things like diseases such as tularemia, the availability of food, numbers of varmint hunters…and, the presence of predators like foxes, bobcats, and coyotes. Some years the predators are in force…and some years they are gone….connections?

I am not sure if he coyotes are moving because food is limited, because people are keeping their cats inside, or the jackrabbits are starving or dying from disease…the chicken or the egg, but it makes me aware of the interconnectedness of everything.  For now the coyotes are gone, and the house cats and jack rabbits reign…for now….connections?

Oh and by the way, if you love your kitties, keep them in the house…the coyotes will be back….remember the connections.  John Muir said it best: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” Connections!

This Week (or so…) at Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total for the year is now 2336

(If you noticed that the update is a bit late this week, you’re correct! We had some internet issues which have now – hopefully – been solved. Thanks for your patience!)

This week we passed the big 4th of July holiday and as always, Liberty participated in the neighborhood parade. Our Education volunteers and birds always shine, even when the skies are cloudy. Throughout the week, the usual work continued with the wonderful Orphan Care team feeding and caring for hundreds of baby birds and the Med Services people doing their normal stellar job of tending to new arrivals and longer-term patients as the summer progresses…

Jan checks an RTH foot as Carol holds

This young RTH presented some foot problems which at first seemed as though they might have been caused by an electrical burn. Upon closer examination, Jan noticed small puncture wounds and now thinks it might have been a snake bite which causes similar swelling and subsequent tissue damage and loss. We may never know the real story, but the treatment continues.

Sharon wraps a tiny leg

Foot and leg problems are especially acute in raptors as they depend on their feet to kill and hold their food.  At the same time, even the smallest passerine (perching bird) can run into problems if tiny leg bones break. The treatment usually involves immobilizing the leg and the techniques for doing this may vary from species to species but often involves aligning the bones and wrapping them in place.


Joanie holds a peregrine for Jan

Scobee, one of our Education peregrines, is missing the end of his wing, much the same type of injury as Lady Liberty, our senior bald eagle. And, like Libby, as new blood feathers grow in on the amputated end, they are unprotected by other feathers and pose continual problems as they brush against things and break. The end of the wing is wrapped to protect fragile new feathers until they grow in and lose their blood supply.


A GHO moment for Joanie

Who knew baby owls sucked their thumbs (talons)?

Could I BE any scrawnier?

This series is just a few pictures that presented themselves during the vet-night activities this week. The stories are the same: bird gets injured/orphaned, bird gets treated, bird gets released – and sometimes there is an interesting picture somewhere in the process.


“Can I come in too, please?”

There is a small shelf on the sill at the intake window to allow people to fill out some paperwork as they bring animals to us. This pigeon showed up at the intake window last week, looking like he wanted to come in and join the rest of the birds getting free food in the OC area.


Scout meets Annabelle

Joe and Aurora lead the parade

She knows she’s the star

Surveying her kingdom

Lots of Eagles on parade

Falcons and hawks are a hit too

John and Salsa present a photo op

Photo ops for the kids too

Large crowds for the 4th

Around 830 on the morning of the 4th, the neighborhood parade passed by the facility with Joe and Aurora riding on the lead golf cart. A fairly large crowd of paraders came by this year, possibly because of the relatively cool conditions. Kids with bikes each decorated in red, white, and blue ribbons, dogs in costumes, horses in patriotic garb, all stopping for a short educational look at our staff od hawks, owls and eagles which were stationed along the front of Dr. Orr’s property. It was a chance for lots of photo ops and lots of appreciation for the work we do right here in the neighborhood.


Now that’s a tongue!

This shot of a gila woodpecker using his phenominal tongue to taste an orange slice was one I couldn’t pass up. People rarely get to see this “tool” in use when the birds are in the wild.


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4 Responses to This Week (or thereabouts) at Liberty July 9, 2012

  1. Charles Staples says:

    I was reading your article that was posted this week on Jackrabbits. I was wondering if the Jackrabbits are around and cats around why are coyotes still not around? Is there anyone looking into finding out why coyotes not around?
    I am asking cause I am used to seeing a coyote around were i work but have not seen him in months. Also noticed we are recieving alot of stray cats lately, could the stray cats scare off the coyotes?

  2. Megan Mosby says:

    No, and I am not an authority, but my thinking is that the coyotes clean out the food supply and leave the area until it builds up again. I think disease takes it toll on jackrabbits and possibly on outside pet and feral cats. Indoor cats seem to survive a whole lot longer. Feral cat’s prolific reproduction probably feeds the coyote population in an area and when it slows due to attrition the coyotes move on to another area. I suspect I will see them again in my neighborhood in the future as I am seeing more feral and house cats and now jackrabbits…time will tell.

  3. Gail says:

    Nice write up on the “jacks” and I love the parade pictures. What a terrific chance for Liberty to show the neighbors what goes on in there!

  4. Ruth says:

    I live in a rural part of Pinal County and have also noticed fewer coyotes. What I have seen is an increase in properties being fenced off to contain and protect horses and pets. I feel this has “forced” the coyotes to move out. I do notice very healthy looking coyotes and jackrabbits when I ride horseback just a half mile away from my property.

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