I have just returned from a wonderful happening. At the last Wishes for Wildlife my brother bought the Verde Canyon Rail Road “Caboose” that was generously donated by the rail road for our auction. He was moved to do this to of course support our mission but mostly to celebrate Will’s, his grandson, my great nephew, remission from leukemia. While he was being treated at the Texas Children’s Hospital he fell in love with the trains in the “train room” provided to ease the horrors of treatment for these very young children. Planning has been extensive to get everyone here to make the trip, and it was worth every second.
I must say, that the folks at the railroad, Robyn Brein, General Manager, and all of her people couldn’t have been more wonderful. They made the trip memorable from the moment we arrived….all in the same t shirt design…penned by none other than Joe Miller and orchestrated by Terry Stevens…that is another story. Our caboose experience was peppered with history, nature facts pertinent to the valley and the river by Fermin who served us wonderful food and drink and made sure we didn’t miss a thing….catering especially to Will who was at times, very rare times, speechless. The trip through the tunnel was over the moon!
And, coincidentally, OR NOT, we happened to be on the train the very same time that Joe, Jan, Claudia and their special friend, Sonora….all rock stars of Liberty Wildlife, wowed the train riders with Sonora and her story. I had the pleasure of standing back and looking at the presentation as a “fly on the wall”. I can’t express in words the depth of awe that I witnessed in every person there. Cameras flashed, people moved orderly in place to have a photo taken in the presence of this team of educators, especially Sonora….a true honor for all. As the train went around curves we could see the open cars with the attendees enraptured by the likes of a stunning bald eagle and handlers that know the story….tell the story…present the star….leave a memorable impression that was still talked about as they left the train.
I have ridden the train before. It is different every time. You are privy to the whims of nature on a given day, season, year so each ride is unique and priceless. If you are lucky enough to have Liberty’s team there you have scored a run. But, if you are as lucky as I was to have my family and the exuberance of a young fighter, it is a grand slam.
My special thanks to Linda and Dave Durbano for bringing the train back, to the folks at the Verde Canyon Rail Road for their kindness and consideration, to Joe, Jan and Claudia for their special attentions and to my family for making this so special.
This Week @ Liberty
The intake total for the year is now at 4245. Released on July 31: 1 mockingbird, 1 curved bill thrasher, 5 Say’s phoebe, 12 gila woodpeckers, 1 cowbird, 1 grackle, 1 cactus wren, 58 misc. doves, 27 quail and several misc.waterfowl.
It would appear that the rate of arrivals may have peaked and is ever-so-slowly backing off. We have reached the stage where we now are beginning to see this year’s crop of juveniles making their “life lesson” mistakes and showing up as injured animals. That’s not to say the Orphan Care area isn’t still logging in several babies and kids each day, but the trend is heading in the right way, finally. Releases are up (including our mammal family!), the Ed team attends the Southwest Wings show again, and we get a visit from our architects and builders. Here’s what it looked like…
So, although the arrival of orphans might have slowed a bit, the bunnies still seem to be multiplying – go figure! Our success rate with all the lagomorphs that we saw this year was encouraging in spite of the fragility of these little creatures. Hopefully that will continue in years to come, allowing us to keep working all ends of the Arizona food chain.
Marilyn, the little orphan moorhen that is the darling of the OC team, is still growing fast and strong. She is beginning to grow her first year plumage and is even doing some adult behavior (tail twitching?). Look for a video of her lily pad walk in an upcoming TW@L.
A young cooper’s hawk arrived this week presenting head trauma from a collision with a fence. As I’ve reported many times before, this is not an uncommon injury with accipiters. They chase other birds which are their main prey and in the hunt, they become single-minded and tunnel visioned leading to collisions with immovable objects. This bird will go to the eye clinic this week for more evaluation.
I gave two birds a ride up from Tucson this week, both from the San Pedro – Sierra Vista area via the efforts of our good friend Christy van Cleve. A raven was in the custody of an individual for a protracted period and had a suspected respiratory infection while the barn owl was very thin and emaciated. Both birds are responding to treatment and are still candidates for release down the road.
After several weeks of careful monitoring and feeding following the birth of four young babies at our facility, the raccoon family is finally free. Taken to an undisclosed location early in the week, the four healthy youngsters and their mom were allowed to return to the wild to face whatever the world has to offer them. Good luck to them in their journeys!
Some people from Oakland Construction and Weddle Gilmore came by Liberty on Tuesday to get a first hand look at what we do and how we do it. This is to help guide them as they prepare plans for the our new facility. We’re looking forward to working with them as they embark on an ambitious schedule to get us into our new home.
Story by Craig Fischer: Liberty Wildlife education team members Donna Jabara and Craig Fischer spent this past weekend at the Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival in Sierra Vista. For two people, one bird and many Liberty Med Services, Daily Care and Education volunteers, this event was a very special two years in the making.
At the 2012 festival, Liberty volunteers were asked if they could assist with treatment for an injured burrowing owl. Jason Greff, a wildlife officer at San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge in far southeastern Arizona, was driving to the Douglas, Arizona, office when he spotted a burrowing owl on the roadside. When the normally skittish owl did not fly off as he approached, he realized that something may be wrong. He collected the little owl in a cardboard box and brought it to the office where it was handed to Amanda Terry, a wildlife intern who would be manning the refuge booth at Southwest Wings that day, and was asked to hand the owl to Liberty Wildlife to see if it could be helped.
At the show, Liberty volunteers Anne Peyton and Linda Scott received the bird and jumped into action with the help from Christy van Cleve, a local wildlife rehab specialist. The trio realized the owl had a severe head trauma around her right eye, possibly from an automobile collision. They administered fluids and placed the bird in a dark quiet space during the day. The following day the owl was transported to Liberty Wildlife and admitted to the ICU. It took several weeks for the trauma and concussion symptoms to dissipate, but she was soon showing signs of quick improvement.
Jump forward two years and Frida is now one of our avian ambassadors. She returned to Southwest Wings and had the opportunity to visit with her rescuer Jason and “doctor” Christie, and to endear herself to the more than 750 visitors to the show’s exhibition area. Many exhibitors also took the time to visit with Frida and Donna as they remembered being there when the injured owl was brought in and very few gave her a chance of surviving the injury.
On behalf of Frida, thank you to everyone who played a part in Frida’s story and successful transition to a new career.
Don’t forget to purchase your Diamondback tickets!!!