This Week at Liberty – June 16, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

It seems like this past week was peppered with eagles.  That got me thinking about how fortunate we are to have had all of these years of experience with these charismatic animals.

Golden eagle no. 13-3685 was released yesterday.  A hearty troupe of Liberty Wildlife folks made the trek to Aubrey Valley to set this eagle free.  Aubrey Valley is a destination for unattached golden eagles….those who haven’t earned their own territory or taken a mate.  No. 13-3685 came to us last year from Marble Canyon.  She was brought to us by the folks at the Peregrine Fund.  She was found on the ground and had been seen being stalked by coyotes.  On her arrival she presented evidence of coyote attack, puncture wounds, and damaged primary feathers from being grabbed more than likely by the coyote.  The damage to the feathers was so severe that imping (a technique that physically puts new feathers in the shafts allowing the bird to be released and to naturally molt in new feathers) in this case was not viable.  Also, the tail feathers were badly broomed from contact with the ground.  And if that weren’t enough blood results showed the presence of lead. She was in pretty sad shape.

Over time, with chelating to remove lead from her system and given time to fatten up and grow new feathers, eagle no. 13-3685 was ready for release.  A success by anyone’s terms.

On the bald eagle side of the chart, the nest watch folks for AZ Game and Fish called in that the Greer nest had absolutely fallen apart in the winds and both babies were dumped.  They are about a week from fledging….timing is everything.  One of the two babies remained in the tree but one had plummeted to the ground.  It was decided that the best thing to do was for the Game Warden in the area to try to snag the baby on the ground….the nest watchers were there to assist…and keep it safe in a carrier over night until biologists could climb the tree and attempt to put it back in the crook of the tree.  If they both can stay there for a week and fledge naturally it will be best for all.  With feeding instructions for the one on the ground relayed by Liberty Wildlife, we will assume that the little guy made it safely through the night and was successfully put back in the tree to be fed by the parents for at least a week until fledging.

Then if that weren’t enough we were called to pick up a young eagle that had been seen at Page Springs hanging around bumming food from a restaurant.  It was an eagle that had been out of the nest earlier and not doing well for unknown reasons.  On the first trip in to us we were unable to find anything obviously wrong with it…no breaks…no infection….just not doing well.  We fattened him up, hydrated and stabilized him and the eagle biologists sent him back to the nest area. The second time now at Page Springs it was decided to recaptured him and return him to Liberty Wildlife for further evaluation.  X rays were done on Sunday and blood work is pending.  Hopefully these tests will give us a better idea of what might be going on.  We can’t help but ask the question, “Is any of this related to the recent fires in the area?”

At Liberty we have cared for eagles of Arizona for the past 33 years.  Because of our experience and success there are 88 eagles in the Arizona skies and untold numbers of their offspring doing their eagle thing and playing their critical part in the natural world….and wowing all of us.

Our education eagles have allowed hundreds of thousands of people from literally all over the world to have a pretty awesome and personal experience with what is hard to deny for me and many others as a kindred spirit.   And, to add to their importance, these magnificent birds have also made temporary job changes when necessary providing mentorship for baby eagles in our care and to be blood donors to eagles that are in need.  They may not be able to surf the skies anymore, but they continue to be “good citizen representatives from their species to ours.”

At this writing I have been informed that we were called about another golden eagle at Lake Powell who may end up needing our attention.  Yes, peppered with eagles!

We are proud to have had so many opportunities to positively interact with our country’s regal eagles.

This Week at Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

There intake total is currently up to 2807.

It might be an effect of global climate change, but we’re taking in orphans from species that normally would have concluded the normal breeding cycle by now. The temps have been up but so far, we haven’t seen any records or much above the 108F mark. The Med services people updated the WNV vaccinations last week, and the raccoon family is doing well. This year, canker seems to be the toughest problem as not many birds are surviving even with careful treatment. The foster parents are all doing well as are their adopted “kids” and the golden eagle that was in the 60ft flight has now been released. The thought for the day is “PRESS ON” into monsoon season…

Getting ready for West Nile Virus vaccine

Getting ready for West Nile Virus vaccinations

Each year, we use donated West Nile Virus vaccine to inoculate all of our resident birds. Last Thursday, Jan and Alex and their team arrived early and began the long job of getting all of our Education birds out and held for their shots. It’s a long arduous process but so far, we’ve been lucky in keeping this terrible plague out of their population.

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Jan finds evidence of canker

Jan finds evidence of canker

Baby accipiter ready for treatment

Second baby accipiter ready for treatment

And as long as we’re talking about lousy diseases, avian canker – or trichomoniasis, is rearing it’s ugly head within the rehab sector. Since cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks eat mostly other birds, these accipiters are especially vulnerable to canker. Their prey – doves, pigeons, etc., are prone to passing the micro-organisms through drinking water and when they are in turn eaten by these avian specialists, the hunters and their young all acquire the disease. Medication is needed as soon as possible as early treatment is a factor in recovery.

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The OC volunteers are busy during all shifts

The OC volunteers are busy during all shifts

Hummingbird nests are still coming in

Hummingbird nests are still coming in

Cottontails continue to arrive

Cottontails continue to arrive

Duckling hatched minutes before from an egg recovered 2 weeks ago

Duckling hatched minutes before from an egg recovered 2 weeks ago

Click here for a video of this duckling.

The baby barn owl continues to improve

The baby barn owl continues to improve

Baby screech playing dead

A baby screech playing dead…

while other screeches hide in their "condo"

while other screeches hide in their “condo”

The orphans of all species continue to show up and all are cared for either in the OC area by the dedicate Orphan Care volunteers, or the Medical service people prior to being assigned a foster family to live with at the appropriate age. Fortunately we have pairs of non-releasable birds of most common species so all orphans can be raised by their own kind and will imprint properly. Cross-fostering – placing the young of one specie into a foster situation with a different specie – has been studied (Bird, Burnham 1985) and is not supported by science.

LOTS of kestrel fosters

LOTS of kestrel fosters – each blue tag is an orphan bird

Kestrels get attention in the ICU

Kestrels get attention in the ICU

Another bird that has a problem with canker is the American kestrel. Since they also will eat other birds that may be infected, all intakes are checked for the disease and are routinely treated in a prophylactic effort. As noted in recent updates, we have taken in several large families of these fledgling falcons that, because of the sizes of their clutches, are susceptible to acquiring canker from food brought to the nest by parents.

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Mom gives one cub a bath

Mom gives one cub a bath

The kids playing in the tree

The kids playing in the tree

The raccoon family is growing rapidly and hopefully they will all get released in the not-too-distant future. Raccoon moms are selfless and dedicated and the little ones need to be able to keep up with her after she is released into a new, unfamiliar environment. The suitability for release is largely a function of the cubs’ size and dental development.

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Golden eagle gets some flight practice

Golden eagle gets some flight practice

No more walls or ceilings

No more walls or ceilings (photo by Jan Miller)

See HHH above for the full story on this golden eagle.

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Hey all you Liberty Wildlife T-Shirt aficionados!

We are going to make a special run of commemorative “Frodo” shirts.  In order to keep costs and inventory down, we need definite orders prior to having the silk screening done. If you want one of these shirts Frodo Brown go to the Liberty Wildlife on-line store and place you order. Once all orders are in (we’ll give it about 2 weeks), we’ll have the shirts printed up and shipped to you – or you can pick them up at the facility. ACT NOW!!!

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