At this time of year it seems like we are all about teams, stars of the game, big names crossing the goal line, points scored, games won. As I watched some of the football games this weekend while locked inside in response to the brrrrrrrrrrr cold weather, (Ok, I am a wimp and not used to these temperatures…and yes, I will remember this in August…) I realized that what we do for wildlife and nurturing nature is also about team work.
There are the obvious big stars crossing the goal line by fixing up a battered buteo or a rescuing an endangered raptor from harm’s way, or by presenting a charismatic owl to educate eager minds about the beauty and benefits of our wildlife neighbors. But just as you can see the myriad of support entities on the side line of the football field, there are a myriad of support people and their efforts, not so obvious, in their nurturing but every bit as critical to the support of our more well-viewed wildlife players.
For example, you may have seen a sign along Eastwood Lane between Scottsdale Road and Doubletree Ranch Road in Scottsdale. This visual reminder was suggested and supported by two folks, Gorgonia and Dennis Beard, who go about their own ways of supporting wildlife…..part of the greater team who knows the importance of some way crossing the goal line to help score points for our native wildlife…..theirs is a powerful and to the point message some see every day.
Another less than obvious support for wildlife came as the result of an educational program that Max Bessler and John Glitsos provided at Anasazi Elementary School in Scottsdale. In John’s words, “The teacher there, Amy Coleman, has had us over every year for the last 4 years to talk to the entire 3rd grade class. This year was quite exceptional. Liberty’s visit has become one of the most anticipated events of the school year, and the 4th graders tell their 3rd grade friends and family about it, growing the hype every single year. (remember last year we had the family come in with the rescue after the program?) Anyway, this year they absolutely outdid themselves with donations. The 127 kids brought in $430 in donations, plus two cars full of medical supplies.”
Max and John also noticed how prepared the students were for the program. They already had learned about owl pellets and the food chain. Combine that with great listening skills, and insightful questions, and you have an educational program that is meaningful for everyone in attendance. They had the feeling that this group of students learned a great deal, and will apply that knowledge to conserving and protecting the wildlife of Arizona….touchdown!
This school’s third grade class, their parents, teachers and principal are there on the sidelines helping our stars cross the goal line…we couldn’t score without their critical support, and they need to be recognized along with all of the other supporters including the “fans”. You are our team….Folks for Wildlife and Nature. Thanks for all that you do silently or not from your place on the field.
This Week at Liberty
The intake number for the year is now at 38.
As we slowly gear up for the new year, the planning is in place to add new volunteers that we’ll need as the year progresses. Cold weather is the order of the day this past week, and as you’ll note from the pictures, the volunteers were bundled up as the temps went down. You know it’s cold when you wear gloves not just to handle raptors, but to keep warm!
Last week we took in a spate of ducks and other waterfowl. Two things seemed two precipitate the influx – some of the canals in the area are being drained for cleaning, and an apparent outbreak of botulism at a local lake in Ahwatukee. R&T volunteers Tim, Mark, and Tony did their best to keep up with the growing number of rescues.
Hummingbirds are very difficult to rehab, due mostly to their diminutive size and hyperactivity. The cold weather also causes them to slow down to the point of torpor leaving them vulnerable to predators as they sit and wait for warmer temps.
Young hawks of all local species are currently in treatment. Families of harris’ hawks are getting ready for the breeding season, as are local red-tails who are also looking for new – and old – territories. As always, the youngsters sometimes make painful mistakes as they learn their life skills…
It wasn’t long ago that peregrine falcons were on the Endangered Species List and as such, were not a common sight at Liberty. Doves, on the other hand, are extremely common. These two birds represent both ends of the food chain in the avian world, but both receive the same professional care when the arrive at the facility.
Lots of owls find their way to our facility each year, including this little screech owl. Screeches make good use of their camouflaged plumage which makes them look remarkably like tree bark. When they feel threatened, they close their eyes to a tight squint, minimizing their yellow irises, and remain as still as they can until the danger passes. They sometimes do this when they are being treated in the ICU…
The weather has turned quite cold, especially for Arizona. The daily care hoses were frozen as was a lot of the water dishes – at least until the sun came up to thaw things out. The hand feeders were wearing gloves on both hands last week, as were most of the people who showed up for the new volunteer orientation on Saturday. Now THAT’S dedication!
The latest condor to arrive is making some progress as her lead level begin to drop. The chelation treatment is hard on the birds and it can only be done for a few days and then they must be given time off from the regimen. Keep the good thoughts coming!