Hoots, Howls, and Hollers
WE MADE THE BIG TENT!…THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO PLEDGED TO BIRDIES FOR CHARITY…Now, come out to the Waste Management Open on Sunday, February 2nd to see our education group extol the beauty and benefits of native wildlife. We’ll be there to greet the comings and goings of guests. And, yes you will still be able to get home in time to watch the Super Bowl later in the day.
Now on to other things…I went to an event this week that featured the Dean of the ASU Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College. It was inspirational. The school’s accomplishments are many making me proud to have gotten my Master’s Degree from this school….albeit a while back. One of the main things discussed was the importance of early childhood education as far as placing young students in situations where their interests are peaked either in sciences which is so big now or tuned into other personal yearnings. It seems to me the job of early education among other things is to explore the passions of young children, yet unformed and inexperienced…they kind of need to be exposed to it all.
At a recent Liberty Wildlife program it was easy to see the disparate examples of this. One family had a young boy who was clearly enthralled by the raptors. His excitement was palpable. When the first bird, the great horned owl, was presented he could hardly contain his excitement. And, then it happened. I want to believe that the parents were reacting to something unseen…some other appointment…some other behavior…some other need. Before the next bird could be presented they grabbed him by the arm and dragged him out. He was bereft. He was wailing. He was so sadly disappointed. That seems an example of potential dashed passion. I just hope he will be able to have another opportunity to discover the root of his enthusiasm.
At the same program another family demonstrated a totally opposite demeanor. The kids were being home schooled, and the parents took this decision seriously. They were traveling for two months to let their children experience new and different places. The deserts of Arizona were clearly a favorite and part of a very important learning experience. One of the boys in particular was enchanted with the bird of prey show. Not only were they allowed to stay for the entire program, they also were allowed to stay after and ask all of the questions that they had at the time. To further support their curiosity and learning the parents have made arrangements to bring their children by Liberty Wildlife for a personal tour. We will make sure they get to see everything they want, to answer all of their questions, to help them continue to follow their passions.
We never know where an educational experience will go. I like to think of our programming as a “gateway” experience to the sciences, to a desire to help the planet, to a giant step in helping to keep the balance, to strive for resilience and ultimately to sustainability.
This Week @ Liberty
The intake total for this year is now at 45.
Things are calming down now after the holiday rush, and the facility is settling into our long established routine for what we hope will be our final year in this location. We are seeing some interesting animals arriving for help and the volunteers, as always, are stepping up to the plate and doing a phenomenal job of providing care for whatever comes in. The year is beginning with a glorious profusion of species from the kingdom Animalia: mammals, reptiles, and birds of all sorts – all receiving the best care possible from volunteers who are all dedicated to the wildlife of Arizona. Let me add my thanks to all who were kind enough to contribute to the Birdies for Charity campaign. I’ll try to get some good photos at the event so you can see what you have brought about through your generosity.
Three of our birds were taken by Andrea to the eye clinic last week. Dr. Jennifer Urbanz, veterinary ophthalmologist at Eye Care for Animals just north of Liberty, checked out some eye problems presented by a sharp-shinned hawk, a moorhen, and one of our own education burrowing owls, Frieda. Some birds can manage with diminished vision due to one eye being damaged or lost while others that depend on binoculars vision would not survive being so compromised. Knowing the exact status of a bird’s eyesight is important to its prognosis and eventual disposition. We’re very grateful for the assistance or Dr. Urbanz and the staff at Eye Care for Animals.
An uncommon patient was brought in last week for treatment. This Northern shoveler was apparently involved in some kind of collision and is suffering from as yet undetermined internal injuries. These duck-like birds dabble in shallow water for seeds of sedges, bulrushes, saw grass, smartweeds, pondweeds, algae and duckweeds, as well as aquatic insects. Shovelers have a unique wide, spoon shaped bill that allows the bird to strain small mollusks, crustaceans and other small organisms from water that is taken in at the tip and then jetted out at the base. The wide shape of the bill gives this pretty bird it’s name.
(Sigh…) OK, we have three more young raccoons at the facility. The three youngsters were incarcerated by the management at the the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (formerly Williams field) and we suspect that the mother was nearby but she eluded capture. They will be released into an appropriate area as soon as they are old enough to survive on their own.
Another not-very-common visitor to our facility last week was this Western yellow bat. It seems as though we see a lot of different types of bats, probably because we do. There are 28 species of bats found in Arizona. This guy was larger than most of the bats we see and he was picked up by Rebecca for treatment as she is our go-to bat person at Liberty. His size (and that of his teeth!) was quite impressive.
Among the interesting species that currently call Liberty home – at least temporarily – is this desert spiny lizard. He is with us with unspecified injuries, possibly suffering from exposure to some environmental toxin. Just as the birds suffer from contact with animals that have ingested rodenticide, these little animals also consume prey that is the target of human-generated poison, most likely insecticide. As always it’s important to remember that there are no species-specific poisons. What is toxic to one life form is going to be dangerous to many others in the food chain.
Finally, just a quick update on condor 455. She is still with us, still in treatment for the effects of lead poisoning, and making very slow, incremental progress. We had hoped she would be recovering more rapidly, but although her lead levels have dropped, she is not gaining weight as we would like to see her doing. Alex and the crew are feeding her almost 5 times each day so everyone keep the fingers crossed!