The fires in Oak Creek Canyon have become headlines around the country. What a beautiful spot! What a potential loss of valuable and beloved property! What about the wildlife? What a shame!
It is horrifying to see the footage of an area many of us know so well. Favorite spots that I have lived in, hiked in, birded in, picnicked in are vanishing before my eyes…and I keep thinking about the wildlife.
The good thing that I know is that most of them aren’t actually harmed by the fire. If they can run, they do. If they can fly, they do. If they can burrow or hide, they do. Most of them make it out. There are two major problems though. At this time of year, nesting season, there are babies and fledglings not ready or able to leave the nest or den who just won’t make it unless they are very, very lucky. And all of the displaced critters who flee ahead of the fires will probably find it difficult to carve out a territory in which to live until the forests come back. Habitat loss, in general is the gremlin for them….making survival difficult even if it is just for a while.
However, studies in wildlife and forest management reveal surprising things. In burned out forests amazing things happen. For example, there are species of beetles whose feelers hone in on smoke which triggers them to fly to burned areas in order to lay their eggs in the bark. That triggers the return of avian species like woodpeckers who fly into the area to feed on the larvae. Deer tend to like to forage on the fresh grasses that spring up when seeds that have lain dormant awaiting the fires to allow for their germination. The predators return to feed on the deer and other small grazers. A great percentage of species depend on snags and some kind of wood debris during part of their life cycles. Rebirth occurs.
So, I get it that forest burn is cyclical and that burns are good for the forests in general. I did grow up with Smokey the Bear and now realize the danger in taking that message to heart. But I can’t stop thinking about those babies that are being “culled” in the meantime. So, what I want you to know is that at Liberty Wildlife we do care ultimately about those potential fatalities. If there is anything we can do to ease their pain, we want to help.
Please, if you have the need for assistance, call our hotline. We have an outstanding group of Hotline people who are waiting to help man the calls. We have Rescue and Transport people to assist when possible. We have Veterinarians, Medical Services staff, Orphan Care staff, Daily Care staff all ready and willing to lend a hand.
Call on us. We will answer your call. 480-998-5550
This Week at Liberty
The intake total for the year now stands at 2108.
As the fire crews begin to get a handle on the Slide Fire in Oak Creek Canyon, a Liberty volunteer enlists the aid of a local fire department in a rescue at a Tempe cemetery. The torrent of incoming orphans continues apace and the drought brings on a new danger: an increase in canker due to diminished water sources. The education season grinds to a halt as the temperature rises (but the shows continue!) and we give one more tour to the architectural firm working on our new facility. Let’s jump in and take a look…
We’re getting closer to breaking ground on the new “Liberty Wildlife on the River facility. Architects from Weddle and Gilmore came out with project manager Dick Fry to take one last look at the existing structure to finalize plans for the new enclosures. Every effort if being made to keep the structure sound, keep the construction environmentally and esthetically pleasing, and keep the costs down. The good news is, we’re getting closer to moving every day!
OK, so not only are we getting in a lot(!) of baby birds – like this little killdeer – but a lot of migrants as they move from breeding areas to feeding grounds and back – like the Townsend’s warbler above. The fascinating thing about precocial babies like the killdeer is that they look almost exactly like adults – only smaller!
One of the few natural problems that birds present on arrival in the ICU is canker, or trichomoniasis. This is a single-celled protozoal parasite that is frequently found in the mouth, esophagus, crop, proventriculus, upper respiratory and gastrointestinal tract of affected birds. It’s most common in pigeons and doves which in turn causes problems in raptors that eat those birds. It is often passes from one bird to another through contaminated drinking water such as pools of rainwater and, sadly, bird feeders that have not been cleaned properly. This harris’ hawk had an extremely advanced case of canker as the growth had attacked his entire mouth area and had eaten holes through the tissue surrounding the beak. Unfortunately, the damage was too severe and the bird died the next morning.
We don’t get a lot of bats at Liberty, but when they do run into problems, our volunteers are ready to help. This Mexican free-tailed bat arrived last week with some wing damage and is now in our care. Gloves are a must as bats are on top of the rabies vector species list in Arizona. It’s imperative that if you find a bat experiencing difficulties, do not touch it! The protocol specified by health agencies are specific and if the animal has had contact with humans, it must be euthanized for examination for rabies. Call Liberty Wildlife for assistance!
Volunteer John Glitsos was called out for a rescue last week. There was a pre-fledgling red tail hawk on the ground under a very tall tree at a cemetery in Tempe. The nest was visible as was the mom so John decided to do the best thing – get the baby back with the family. After a call to the local fire department, Joel Zieglar with the Tempe Fire Dept – C Shift, came out with their ladder truck and offered to help. John took the baby up as far as he could and got him very close to the nest. After thanking the FD for their help, John decided to go the extra mile and returned to check on the bird later on. As John puts it: I checked on the RTH last night and he looked fine. Mom was with him… but I decided that he should be checked daily since I did not get him all the way back to his nest. So, I went back this morning to the cemetery and found the little guy back on the ground under the tree!! He did not look as good to me, although I could not see anything broken, it looked like he needed some fluids and perhaps a juicy mouse or two! So, I decided to bring him in. He is rescue 2014-1890. They found Canker… which may explain some of what is going on. If so, we may see his nest-mate soon too… Anyway, he is in a brooder. I marked his paperwork to please let me release him with the Tempe Fire guys when that day comes…Not exactly the story I was hoping for, but I feel that he has a fighting chance now. He is cute as could be!
Even though it’s getting warm and near the end of the Education Season, Joe and Jan took some of our ambassadors up to Bagdad recently to do a program for Freeport McMoRan. One of our goals in doing educational outreach is to get kids outside and into nature. This show accomplished just that in a big way! The kids really enjoyed seeing the hawks, owls, falcons and bald eagle that made the trip. Learning about nature in nature makes a lasting impression, especially on the kids.