Animals come into Liberty in many ways. A few weeks ago the arrival of a mourning dove was particularly interesting. The practice partners were working with educational birds and new education volunteers when a large “working” truck rumbled into the driveway…filled with diversity…two older gentlemen with thick Jamaican accents stepped out of the front seats. The back emptied revealing a young Hispanic man, a young Caucasian lady and a very young Hispanic girl holding a small bird in her hands. The first thing they saw when they stepped into the parking lot was a volunteer with a great horned owl. The little girl was beside herself with excitement at the sight of the wonderful bird so close. They asked where they could get help for the bird that they had picked up injured in the road coming home from work. They were told to go to the window and check it in…so the young girl and the other young woman carefully carried it to the window.
The young man moved in closer to the trainers and trainees and began to rattle off facts about the great horned owl to the two other men….”Did you know their bones are hollow as an adaptation to help them fly? Their feathers are soft and the leading feather is specifically designed to muffle the sound of the air passing over it as an adaptation for quiet flight? And, that their eyes are stationary in their head and their ears are located slightly differently on each side of the head and are slits instead of holes? He was quite impressive in his information….and right on.
Jan told him how impressed she was at his knowledge. He related to her that he was really into birds….he read about them all of the time and loved to know everything he could about them…that he had been doing this since he was in school and someone brought some birds to his classroom.
Jan, interest piqued, quizzed him farther. Did Liberty Wildlife ever come to your school when you were younger? He said he wasn’t sure who it was but a group of folks came in with a bunch of birds and reptiles including a great horned owl and a bald eagle. He thought it was so cool!
It had to have been Liberty Wildlife who lit his bird loving fire. When she told him that it was most certainly Liberty Wildlife who had visited his south Phoenix school, he looked at her with a squint in his eye and said, “You know, you look sort of familiar to me.”
This isn’t the first time we have encountered people who have seen us in the past. They usually ask about a favorite star of the day and remind us about the visit…everyone remembers Bailey the turkey vulture because his story is so graphic for a kid…but the great reassurance with this occurrence was the change it made in this young man’s life and hopefully in the life of the little girl who came with him.
He took the time to stop after a hard day of roofing to pick up a mourning dove injured in the street who would surely have met with an untimely death had he not had the compassion to rescue it…compassion! He also took the time to search around for someone to take care of it and give it a second chance…compassion and action. He remembered what he had heard…he listened…he followed a new found passion for at least ten years. He was positively impacted by an hour experience in a classroom in south Phoenix, provided for free by volunteers who share their passion with others.
It doesn’t get much better than that for new volunteers to get a first-hand view of the potential of what they can do, for old volunteers to get reaffirmation that their time has been well spent, for Liberty Wildlife to enjoy a moment of success that we don’t often get to hear about first hand!
This Week at Liberty
The intake total for the year is now 3301.
T’was the week before Christmas and all through the place,
The intakes kept coming, volunteers running apace!
An eagle got ready to take to the sky,
A red tail went outside to show she could fly!
A HaHa, a merlin, an owl with a “Hoot!”,
A young gallinule that looked like a coot!
The new tortoise’s house got a fresh coat of paint,
Now having no name is her only complaint!
We finally thank Whole Foods for the chili we had,
(I forgot this last week – can I just say “My bad?”)
And watching us all from in front of the trailer,
Our own little Beau sits (good thing he’s no bailer!)
On his perch set right next to his own little tree,
Wishing Merry Christmas to all from This Week at Liberty!
The bald eagle that came in a few months ago is now flying well enough that it will be released later this month. Though it is missing some primary feathers, the bird has compensated well enough to be deemed releasable and wil;l be returned to the wild by the people at AZGFD. We hope to get some photos/video of the event when it occurs.
The electrically burned RTH has improved enough to get transferred to an outside enclosure last week, the last step before final evaluation and eventual release.
Last week we got a call from a lady in Morenci who said she had an injured hawk. A fellow US Airways pilot, Marci Martin, is our contact in Safford and she was available for transporting that day so she took the merlin from there to Globe where Tim met her and completed the trip to Liberty. The bird is doing well and should be a good candidate for release. Thanks to Marci and Tim for “going the extra mile!”
A pretty GHO was examined this week and with the help of X-rays taken with Dr. Sorum’s portable machine, it was discovered that there were several pellets in the bird’s wing. Usually we get this sort of gunshot wound after Christmas but it just shows that we need to keep up our educational efforts to minimize this sort of activity.
A not-so-common visitor to Liberty showed up last week. This juvenile gallinule came to us with an injured leg. These shore birds look like a cross between a coot and a rail, using their long, skinny toes to walk across water foliage and hunt creatures in the shallows near the shore. Since they depend on walking for their survival, a leg injury is a serious problem them.
One of the projects that we’ve been working on is improving the habitats for our desert tortoises. Since Grandpa and Alpo have their own plastic igloos, our female DT (who has no name!) got a wooden house constructed just for her and one of our wonderful volunteers, Ethan, painted it this week.
I was a bit remiss last week in not mentioning the wonderful addition the local Whole Foods store makes to our volunteer picnic every year. They always donate enough chili to warm the attendees in even the coolest weather and we didn’t want to let their contribution go unnoticed! Thank you, folks, for all you do! (And thank you, Naomi for procuring this donation!)
Alex took this great shot of Beau, sitting on his perch next to our “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” on the table outside of the Education trailer. He really seems to enjoy the proximity to the action of the hand-feed team and all of the other birds coming and going down the walkway.