Hoots, Howls, and Hollers
It seems hard to believe, but our Orphan Season has begun….didn’t it just end? The babies are appearing even though the official start date hasn’t arrived yet. I guess calendar dates don’t rule!
There are some reminders related to the season that I want to share with you again this year.
- If you find a baby bird on the ground, by all means, if you can, if it is safe, if the parents are still around, put the baby back in the nest. Natural parents are hard wired to raise their babies and despite what you heard as a child, the parents won’t reject them if you have touched them. In fact they will be thrilled to have the babe back.
- One of the hardest things we have to do is take eggs or nestlings from parents who have invested so much time and energy in a nesting season. It does happen that nests are destroyed, that buildings housing nests are to be destroyed, that cactus homes fall to the ground… unfortunate things happen, and it is a hard, hard decision to take the bounties of the nest while the parents do what they can to stop you. So, if you don’t have to disturb a nest, don’t. Wait until the season is over. It isn’t that long.
- That leads to trimming trees. Just don’t do it during this time of year. If you prune a nest from the tree, you are responsible for the lives of those eggs or nestlings. Bottom line, don’t trim your trees until late fall.
- As for baby mammals, the parents can’t stay with them all of the time. When you think they are abandoned, more than likely the parents are out foraging and are very close by. You must make sure, completely sure that there are no parents before you “heroically” rescue them.
- Hummingbirds are notoriously nabbed by well-meaning folks who have been watching a nest and then all of the sudden the babies hatch and there is no room left for the parents. The parents move to a nearby perch and watch over their young…often watching as a good soul unnecessarily rescues them. Heartbreaking!
Now, this is not meant to discourage you from coming to the rescue of an animal in need. Our Hotline can answer many questions for you, so don’t hesitate to call and ask for advice. They can talk you through the processes of how to help, when to help, if to help. Call 480-998-5550. They will call you back. We have a huge volume of calls during this busy season, but we have incredibly well-trained volunteers who stand at the ready to make your life easier.
And, if you really want to help you can volunteer to do a shift in Orphan Care. We will train you and set you up with what you need to give wildlife a second chance. Go to www.libertywildlife.org , to the volunteer menu and start the process. We welcome your energy and your compassion.
This Week @ Liberty
The intake total for the year is now at 572.
As Megan pointed out in H3 (above), we didn’t transition to Baby Bird Season this year, we were engulfed by it! If you’re keeping track, you’ll notice that the intake number jumped by a 100 from last week. So, we’re in it now, and there’s little to do but what we do best – press on and keep the little guys alive! This amid the heaviest part of the education season as we approach Earth Day and the end of the school year. On top of this, most of us are scrambling to finish preparations for this year’s Wishes for Wildlife event coming one month and 4 days from now. So, if you notice a lot of hectic activity around and near the facility, you’ll understand why. Let’s see what happened this week…
Liberty has had a close association with several of the Harley Davidson franchises in the area over the years. Last week we were in attendance at the Chester’s Harley Davidson Backstage Biker Bash, a part of Bike Week festivities in Mesa with a contingent of Liberty animals and volunteers. Liberty gets a percentage of the proceeds from the party (although as we all know, bikers are not big party people…!) We certainly want to thank Chester’s, Missy Hughes, and all the other volunteers who helped set his up.
The baby cottontails have been pouring in for several weeks now, and their first stop is in an inside enclosure. After they have developed sufficiently to feed themselves and regulate their own temperature, they go to an outside hutch to better acclimate to the ambient climate. These little guys are still inside and probably aren’t even aware of how close they are to dozens of their top predators (yes, that’s a glass wall they are behind!)
Inside of two weeks, we took in 5 eagles, three golden and two bald. The last golden to arrive had a broken pelvis and a fractured humerous. Because of the location of the breaks, surgical pinning was not an option but since they were not compound, Med Services decided that a very careful wrap followed by a closely monitored period of complete cage rest would be the safest and best course of action. It seems this is working as the bird was moved from an inside cage to a smaller outside enclosure, giving the bird room to move but not enough to get into more trouble. She seems to be enjoying the change. Keep your fingers crossed for this bird!
OK, ok, so we don’t normally do non-native species, but by the same token, we don’t turn anything away that is suffering – and this little starling was definitely suffering! He had gotten himself totally immersed in the clutches of a cholla cactus and if you haven’t experienced THAT little piece of Arizona’s welcome basket, you haven’t been here very long. So our wonderful Lesley Guenther spent several minutes c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y pulling the small barbed spines out of the unfortunate bird and was eventually successful. That was a very lucky little bird.
We’ve had a few birds come in recently with what might be called “good” breaks where the fracture is mid-shaft and the bones are mostly aligned (the golden eagle above is a good example.) But this little barn owl presented this x-ray which shows massive damage – right at the elbow joint. If there is an upside to this, barn owls are fairly placeable if we can’t use them ourselves. The sad part is he will never fly again. Time for a career change…
Recently our Research and Conservation team headed by Nina had to do a nest removal for the power company. Three eggs were retrieved from the poorly placed RTH nest and brought to Liberty and placed inside our high-tech incubator. Last week the first egg began pipping and a day later, a tired little RTH hatchling emerged. Within two days, the second little hawk came into the world and joined his/her brother being cared for by the Med Services team. When they are big enough, they’ll be placed with our foster parent red tails for care and imprinting and eventual release.
It’s always sad when babies are separated from their parents, but when the parents decide to nest in a dangerous spot, the survival of the little ones sometimes means they need to join our foster care program. Three little nestling great horned owls came in from a nest last week after falling nearly 18 feet into a horse corral, followed two days later by the fourth baby! They survived the fall but would almost certainly have died on the ground so we brought them in. They were checked over for injury, given fluids, and placed with Daddy Igor who is now fiercely protecting them as they grow. The deluge has begun!
Don’t forget, Wishes for Wildlife 2015 is coming up on May 2nd at the Montelucia Resort! Get your tickets now at libertywildlife.net