Folks, listen up. Now is the wrong time, definitely not the right time, and absolutely the wrong time for many reasons, to trim your trees, shrubs, bushes, i.e. the nurseries for blind, featherless, helpless baby birds. Ok, maybe it is time for your uncontained trash pick-up, but you need to find other detritus to pile on the trash heap in the spring and summer. Don’t do that kind of yard work in the hot sun. It is bad for you. Don’t neaten up that mesquite, palo verde, or palm tree when it is so detrimental to all of the living things that depends on it for a nursery. This is just not the right time. Get it?
Over the past weeks we have been inundated with helpless babies who have been tumbled to the ground like little embryonic nothings because their nest was so well hidden by hard working parent birds. They managed to hide their babies from prying predators, but didn’t realize that the chain saw didn’t care that they were there. The saw worked its magic and wailed away at a bountiful limb that didn’t please the eye of the human wielding the saw.
In the past few months, the height of baby season, we have received remnants of many nests of the likes of Gila woodpeckers, mockingbirds, grackles, and finches, with as many as three or maybe four babies to a nest. Now we are faced with the job of raising babies from the unopened eye size to feathered and almost ready to fledge. Poor us…no, no poor parents who watch the assault on their babies and the failure of a breeding episode for them….how sad and unnecessary.
We also have had an abundance of kestrels (small falcons), barn owls, screech owls, and great horned owls who have been unknowingly, we hope, removed from their nests, who have fallen to the ground and if lucky have managed to scoot out of the way of the heavy debris that often falls on them crushing them to death. And so often the tree carver never even notices the carnage leaving the baby to die a slow ugly death. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Stay out of the sun, stay out of the heat, leave the nesting birds to do what they are hard wired to do this time of year….reproduce, raise and fledge their little ones. If you need to show the trees, shrubs, and bushes what you are made of and that you are indeed boss….do it in the fall. It is far less detrimental to the babies, their parents, and to the local rehabber that has to try to make up for your habitual neatness.
Tell the city you live in not to trim during the baby season. Tell the property management at the apartment and condo units you live in to let it rest until fall. Tell the resorts and hotels that you visit to be kind to the infant birds and let them live through the spring and summer. Tell your spouse that now is not the right time to trim.
Save a baby from a horrible ending…an ending like the screech owl we got whose legs were sawed off by a chain saw that impersonally roaring away didn’t see the baby terrified by the noise, the machine, and the eventual loss of limb. It is the wrong time to trim….stop it now!
This Week at Liberty
The intake total for the year now stands at 1955.
It was raining cooper’s hawks all week at Liberty (I personally brought in three on Saturday morning!) This in addition to all the other orphan and continuing patient care led to a very busy week. The Hotline volunteers are working double-time to keep up with all the calls that are coming in by the dozens each hour, even in the middle of the night. Couple this with temps around 110F (47C for you metric folks!) and you get an idea of the conditions around the facility. For once, I had to actually cull some of the photos I got during the week. As I go to press, Tim brought in an injured bald eagle from the San Carlos Reservation – photos to follow next week…!
Not all our patients are babies, no matter what TW@L says…! OK, the great blue heron is a kid, but definitely NOT a baby. And just to show we don’t just raise baby quail, this adult version showed up with a wing problem and got the same care any raptor would receive from the volunteers.
A gentleman was walking along a road on the south side of Ahwatukee last week and found this young red-tailed hawk standing along the road. When the hawk was still there a short time later, he suspected a problem. Actually any time a bird exhibits behavior that seems extraordinary, it’s a reasonable guess that there are issues with it’s overall health. In this case, the bird was taken to Liberty and found to have avian canker for which it is being treated. Fortunately, it appears we got this hawk in time and he is responding to medication and although he may be at the facility for a couple of months, his prognosis is good.
The volunteers in Orphan Care are working diligently throughout the day to keep all the peeping, gaping, and begging mouths full of nourishment! It’s a treat for the ears, eyes, and heart to watch the activity as it begins each morning when the lights go on in the OC area…
The baby GHO’s still come in like clockwork. One was photographed by the lady who made the call to the hotline sending Donna Jabara to the rescue. Once orphans arrive, they are examined for general health and then placed with an appropriate foster for the rest of their up-bringing. Almost everybody gets fluids and a good first meal!
Barn owls are no exception and each evaluation is performed so nothing communicable – such as canker or pox – enters the foster care areas.
More baby ravens arrive from eggs to larger chicks from tree-trimming (see H3 above) and nest moves for power companies. The tiny babies can be fed without puppets or masks until their eyes open, then disguises are used to prevent improper imprinting.
THESE ARE ALL DIFFERENT BIRDS!
We can always tell when the cooper’s hawks begin to breed as they descend on us like apple blossoms in DC! Almost every call I got last week involved a cooper’s, even if it also was about a kestrel or a GHO. On Saturday, before I got to Liberty at 9am I had three of these baby accipiters in my truck. One of the tough problems faced by cooper’s hawk families is that they hunt birds , and the ones that they hunt and eat such as doves and the like, are quite prone to diseases like canker which then spread to their predators who in turn feed it to their young. The cycle is deadly unless they are found early in the course of the infection…
No, we don’t usually do non-native animals, but this red-eared slider was attacked by a dog who used it as a chew toy. One of the veterinarians that volunteers for Liberty said they were trained to repair turtle shells but rarely get a chance to use this skill so he will receive some expert treatment this week!