As we near breaking ground at our new facility, I have been thinking about the look of things. Because of where we are to be located, a rehabbed piece of land on the south bank of the Rio Salado, we have a very clear palette on which to create a beautiful destination point. The Peace Trail (a pedestrian, bicycle, and horse trail will stretch from 19th Avenue eventually to Town Lake in Tempe) meanders right in front of our soon-to-be courtyard. The City of Phoenix has already planted it with trees and other desert plants designed to provide shade and beauty to the riverside. I can hardly wait.
A grant from the Steele Foundation has provided funding for our landscaping and now with utilities to the property, I look forward to planting as soon as possible. One thing I am envisioning is a plethora of milk weed plants. The City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation has previously partnered with other organizations to provide milkweed plants along other parts of the river with the intent of attracting monarch butterflies. Hearing about the plight of the monarch along with other pollinators engenders the urgency to provide for these critical pollinators whenever possible…bats, bees and butterflies…among other critters.
It seems so easy to forget about the insects…mosquitos are just annoying and with West Nile in the picture they are infuriating, flies are nasty, and spiders creep me out…however they all have a purpose, and it seems we underestimate the role that they play in keeping the balance. But, the pollinators are critical!
I have already made some forays into partnering with the Roosevelt Community School Greenhouse to grow milkweed and hopefully have students involved in planting the plugs when they are ready. The Parks and Recreation folks have agreed to have a part and Liberty will provide the ground space along with spreading out along the upper river bed when appropriate and possible. I think it could morph into a wonderful educational opportunity, and if successful we could perhaps provide a butterfly banding station.
In California recently several butterflies were spied in the Big Sur with banding tags from an effort in southern Arizona. That would be a noble goal for us to have raised milkweed from plugs, plant them at our facility, band the butterflies that stop by during their migration, and follow them to another spot along the way.
So many new opportunities await us. Stay tuned.
This Week @ Liberty
The intake total for thew year is now at 4964.
This is going to be the “Cooper’s Hawk” special edition – mainly because I got pictures of two cooper’s hawks under treatment (the intake rate is slow this time of year!). We also got in a few cormorants – indicating that they are migrating and on the move which is necessary but usually problematic to most species. Next Saturday is the Liberty Wildlife Rummage Sale (what exactly is “rummage” anyway?) to jumpstart the fund drive for a digital X-ray unit for our new facility. The staff has been accumulating donated items and the OC area looks like a room at Filene’s Basement. If you want to get in some early Christmas shopping, this will be a great way to help Liberty out in the process! Come early as parking will be at a premium! Now, let’s take a look at the aftermath of Halloween…!
One of the two cooper’s hawks that arrived for treatment (the one that wasn’t shot) had a federal band on his leg. This youngster had a severely broken leg plus possible internal injuries from a collision with something hard. We get banded birds in every so often and after we contacted the proper agencies, we learned that this bird was about a year old and came from the Sausalito, California, area.
This time of year the shift from trying to keep up with intakes to putting out top quality education programs dictates that all of our Ed birds get periodic maintenance, including the hardware that they use. As part of this program, Vivian, one of our Education merlins, got new anklets and jesses last week.
As I mentioned above, another cooper’s hawk that came in was the apparent victim of a gunshot. The bullet (or pellet) went through the bird’s leg causing some serious – but repairable – damage. Cooper’s hawks are sometimes the victims of people who feel justified in shooting them because they might be predating the songbirds around bird feeders. We try to instruct these folks that this is how nature works – you don’t just feed the little seed-eaters, you also feed the predators that eat the birds that eat your seeds. This is how the health of the flock is maintained. Be happy in knowing that you are helping keep the balance of nature…
As we went through another Halloween at Liberty, some of the staff joined in the festivities by “dolling up” for the day. Among others, Alex, our Daily Care Coordinator, came in appearing as “Elvira – Queen of the Yet-to-be-rehabilitated”, while Stacey worked in the office as a Mario Brother. The bottom photo is this week’s quiz – Name those Liberty folks!!
The new Education volunteers finished their classes and graduated last week. Thanks to Linda Scott and all her helpers in preparing these new “teachers” to jump into the fray and face the world of wide-eyed, inquisitive third and fourth graders, eager to learn about the natural world and to gain a better appreciation for who’s backyard we’re living in!
Progress on Elwood Road (the street in front of the new facility) has been moderately steady. Last week the street lights lining the road were installed and the driveway aprons were poured. Hopefully the next step will be the actual paving of the road which will allow the real construction to begin!