Last week I wrote about the fires in Oak Creek Canyon. Those fires have now been pretty much contained and the evacuated folks are being allowed to return home. In that process APS workers were sent in to assess the damage. Compromised poles and electrical equipment takes a beating in a fire, just like everything else and needs to be replaced, repaired, returned to its tip top working condition.
Remember when I mentioned that most of the wildlife flees the fires and is just displaced instead of being collateral damage? And remember when I mentioned how sad it was for the babies unable to flee who faced sure death when they couldn’t escape the damage from smoke and flames? And remember when I said only little ones that were really, really lucky would survive?
Guess what. I was right. APS workers were in the process of replacing a damaged pole when they discovered a nest of red-shafted flickers…five in all, two boys and three girls. They were in a cavity in a pole deftly excavated by the parents, a fitting home to raise a brood….except for the fire. The parents had indeed been forced to leave and there was no way the babies could be coaxed to safety by the parents…..surely a failed nesting attempt for them.
But no, they were lucky…really, really lucky. The workers discovered the babies and heroically nabbed them and couriered them to Liberty Wildlife. We were cautious in predicting the outcome with these little guys….just barely starting to feather and parentless for an unknown amount of time, we had no idea if or how compromised their respiratory system would be from breathing the smoke and ash.
As it turns out they are great. The nest cavity protected them from hideous heat, smothering fire and spreading ash. They are growing and thriving and will eventually be released as close to their home site as is appropriate for their survival…when the time is right.
This Week at Liberty
The intake total is now at 2324.
The number of orphans continues to rise. We made the TV news last week with the “crawl” announcing the large influx was due to high winds and wildfire, but the winds have subsided, at least temporarily, and the fire only brought us five new patients – that we know of. Tree-trimming continues to be one of the primary generators of orphan influx and this week is no exception. Some species keep reproducing almost all year leading to a couple of surprising arrivals, and the raccoon family is doing well in the mammal area. Check out the new photo/slide on the website home page and leave a comment for our review if you have time. Now, let’s look at last week…
The baby bald eagle is recovering well after his surgery. The pin was removed last week and his wing is healing, although it will forever be shorter than the uninjured side and this will most likely preclude his release down the road. However, we’ll continue to give him the daily care he needs in the hope that he will adapt to his new ‘arrangement’ and grow strong enough to survive in the wild. “Hope is a good thing – maybe the best thing!”
We are currently hosting a little flammulated owl that arrived recently. These pretty little birds are the second smallest – and the most migratory – owl in North America. Unable to fly, Jan suspects he may have a fractured corracoid and this will be investigated via X-rays this week. Since he has missed the mass movement of flammulateds up from their wintering grounds of Central America, when he heals and is again able to fly, he’ll have to wait with us for the rest of his flock to return on it’s return journey.
Two of the many young birds that became patients last week include this black crowned night heron and this little mockingbird. Juvenile BCNHs always seem to look cute, as gangly and uncoordinated as they are, while young mocker always seem to look like they’re mad at the world. Both of these birds are doing well and are on the road to release when they mature.
It seems like each week we see new arrivals of orphan barn owls. Our foster parents, Abba and Tyto, do prodigious duty raising the little birds as they grown from strange looking handfuls of downy fluff to beautiful adult barn owls over a few months. Barnies can have large clutches of up to six babies which can be weeks apart in age. This helps as we can’t control how large the arriving orphans are when they are introduced to the foster parents.
A burrowing owl came in last week presenting injuries possibly consistent with gunshot wounds. His wing and head were damaged, including a serious injury to his left eye. After he was stabilized, he was allowed to rest pending further examination and possible X-rays to determine the extent of the damage.
We took in the second of two families of five baby kestrels that had been displaced by tree trimming activity. In this case, two of the five babies sustained broken legs in their fall from the severed branches but were otherwise intact. The ones that were uninjured are placed with foster parents while the ones with broken bones are in the ICU until they heal sufficiently. One of the little falcons displayed prominent ‘false eyes’ or “ocelli” which are dark spots on the back of their heads. It is thought that these may deter or at least deflect attacks from airborne predators when the kestrels are vulnerable.
The kestrels were some of the birds featured on a live news spot on Channel 10 last week. Click here for the spot
Many folks were concerned about the wildlife during the Slide Fire (see Megan’s HHH last week and again this week). On Thursday, an APS crew working to replace burned power poles in the fire zone noticed five pre-fledgling red shafted flickers in a nest in one of the charred poles they had cut down. A senior VP who was working with the crew placed the birds in a knapsack and transported them to Liberty Wildlife where they are currently in the Orphan Care area being treated by volunteers. Outside of smelling like smoke, they are mostly healthy and will stay with us until they are old enough to be released into an appropriate area.
And just to keep you up-to-date on the progress of our resident raccoon family, mother and cubs are all doing fine. We’re all looking forward to a release of the entire brood in the not too distant future.