Traditionally the end of June is when we assess where we are in terms of numbers of animals we have helped since January 1st. It is no surprise to us that June is our busiest month in terms of new animals admitted to the facility. And, it is no surprise to us that this jump in numbers is related to the inundation of orphans. If you have spent any time at our facility in the 30 days you will know what it means to be slammed. What is always interesting is to see which species are continuing to come in as orphans…a seeming wave of clutches through the summer.
The great horned owls are the first to rain down on us. Starting in mid-February the little fluff ball great horned owl babies start to appear…and appear…and appear. And, then the little babies seem to stop. If the occasional baby comes in late in the year like happened a couple of weeks ago, we chalk it up to a failed nest early in the year. The great horned owl parent who lost a nest of babies, might get it together again to succeed in getting a nest of babies fledged. Unfortunately for the, those babies will be around until it is time to start nesting behaviors for next year.
Many other species of birds double and triple clutch. Harris’ hawks can afford to nest more than once because the first clutch helps to raise the second clutch. That is a handy situation for Harris’ hawks that seems to be happening right now. The kestrels, screech owls, barn owls are starting to come in again…more than likely the products of a second nesting cycle. This resurgence of raptor babies contributes greatly to the peak in numbers admitted in June.
Then there are the smaller birds. It is more common for them to have more than one clutch if the season provides the right opportunities. It gets interesting when you layer on top of the individual natural histories, the impact of the weather. The peak temperature days resulted in a deluge of babies who bailed out of nests, ended up grounded and were luckily found by compassionate folks who for some unknown reason were actually outside in the heat…tough Arizonans are some kind of good luck for these grounded babies.
If the heat weren’t enough, the next big weather event will be the onset of the monsoons. We will begin to see lines at the drop-off window with babies in shoe boxes, paper bags, or tiny little carriers rescued by caring public who found them wafted from the safety of nest…now destroyed, loosened from its moorings or the entire branch ripped from the tree. And, there are the pelicans who are caught up in monsoon winds, carried into the desert, who land on pavement that probably looks like water to them, only to be trapped in an inhospitable desert, unable to rectify the situation on their own.
The last element that adds to our peak in numbers comes from the fledglings that just didn’t get enough parent time to learn the tricks of the trade. They make bad decisions and ended up in some kind of trouble…yep, they join in the peak and add to our summer inundation…May, June, and July.
And, just when you think it is slowing down…here comes the third clutch of babies…stop it already…we are at least 245 animals ahead of where we were at this time last year…maybe I shouldn’t have assessed our situation…very scary!
This Week at Liberty
The intake total is up to 2653 for the year.
Hope everyone had a happy and safe 4th of July! Of course, the wildlife doesn’t know one holiday from another, so they keep coming in for help. This week we show a variety of new arrivals and their treatments, including another from the mammal kingdom. There were several celebrations on the 4th that were attended by Liberty and some of our animals and thanks to various volunteers with cameras, we’ll get to see how we helped celebrate the country’s birthday!
A whole family (7) of fledgling love birds came in recently, apparently from a nest destroyed by tree trimming (see the H3 blog on June 10th). OK, Liberty doesn’t log in non-native species, but by the same token we don’t turn them away if they need help. These little guys will be fed and cared for until they can be placed with someone who can provide for their life-long care.
This little juvenile harris’ hawk was rescued by an MCSO officer in north Mesa last week. Presenting a broken wing, the bird’s life was saved by this quick thinking officer who met me in Mesa to transfer the bird to Liberty.
A juvie brown pelican came in last week, the first of the season. He seems to have a fractured femur and a healed break in one wing indicating he has had a rough life so far. I have him set up to ride on a US Airways flight to Sea World San Diego on Wednesday. Hopefully we’ll update this story next week.
Speaking of broken wings, this X-ray of a red-tailed hawk from a few days ago shows the advantage of having Dr.Sorum’s portable machine on hand when he is at the facility. The broken wing bones are very apparent, but what might have been missed is the break in the fibula (the small bone in the leg).
I got a rescue call last week from some caring people in Chandler who said they heard a “thump” on their roof, followed by the appearance of this little baby barn owl in their back yard. I noticed a very tall skirted palm tree alongside the house and surmised that either the little bird got pushed out of his nest by his siblings (barn owls can have large clutches of up to 6 birds) or it just got too hot and he leaned out too far to find cooler air. He’s now with our foster parent barnies and doing well.
In addition to the recent flurry of cooper’s hawk activity, we also saw the arrival of this baby sharp-shinned hawk who left the nest way too early. Again, the heat may have played a part as we did see record-tying temps last week.
Add another young mammal to our intake this year as this little coyote came in after being found hiding in someone’s front yard. Luckily, Tony, who did the rescue, Jan and Dr. Wyman all have had their rabies vaccinations and are on our “Mammal Rescue” team were all on hand when the frightened little youngster came in.
Joe and Aurora were the featured attractions in a parade in Flagstaff last week on the 4th. Aurora seems to thrive on these events and the people all seem to love her as they cheer when she passes by, no matter what vehicle she in riding on!
And still on the 4th but more locally, the neighborhood 4th of July parade again passed in front of our facility last Thursday. Our wonderful (and tolerant!) neighbors always seem appreciative of our our avian ambassadors and the educational role we play in the community and the state. We, in turn, are proud and thankful for their support through the years. This seems a wholly appropriate way to celebrate the birth of our country!