Hoots, Howls, and Hollers
Liberty’s Educational team and our charismatic wildlife ambassadors made an appearance on Saturday morning at a wonderful event. Hosted by Audubon Arizona at their lovely facility in the Rio Salado Restoration Area (near our new home), the Junior Duck Stamp Contest for Arizona was concluded. It was a well-planned event sponsored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to focus attention on water fowl and wetlands conservation. Prizes were awarded to the winners in many categories.
The contest started in 1989 with as many as 27,000 children entering each year. The task is to draw a duck or a goose from an eligible list of species or to contribute a conservation message. I must say that my expectations were surpassed! The art work by these young students was inspirational. Not only was attention drawn to the beauty of our water loving wildlife, but the message of the importance of this conservation issue has spread to hundreds of thousands of other youth.
Volunteer judges including ornithologists, artists, environmental educators, and National Wildlife Refuge volunteers looked at the 278 Arizona entries. The categories to select from were grades K-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12 with the Best of Show being selected from the winners in each of these categories. The Best of Show from each state then goes to compete on the National level with the winners from all of the other states.
The National First Place winner will have his or her artwork printed on the Federal Junior Duck Stamp…quite an honor. The winner this year from Arizona was 18 year old Megan Young from Yuma who had been entering the contest for 8 years. The Best Conservation message was created by eight year old Luke Jeffries who nailed it with the following tag line: “Don’t duck out on conservation”.
As always our Liberty Wildlife Education Ambassadors including a turkey vulture, a burrowing owl, a male and a female kestrels, and a red tailed hawk did a little competing of their own. Guests thronged around the patio display to see the animals up close and to hear their stories. I watched as little eyes took in the detail, shape, color, feathering, adaptations, and I am pretty sure I could see young creative wheels turning as future art projects took shape.
I was impressed by the talent of this group of young people….the dedication to their talent was impressive. I am very glad I attended this powerful event.
This Week @ Liberty
The intake total for the year is now up to 689.
A short update this week as I’m feverishly working on stuff for the fundraiser – which is coming up in less than 4 weeks if you hadn’t noticed, so we’re all approaching our annual “panic mode” as the time to prepare diminishes. But the day-to-day operations continue with the addition of the commencement of Orphan Care! Yeah, the babies are dropping in (and dropping up in the case of bunnies…) and the doors to the Liberty Wildlife Neo-Natal Care Center – better known as “Orphan Care” are now officially open! Just look at the jump in the intake numbers from week to week if you don’t think it makes a difference doing baby birds in-house! Plus, Carol is scheduling another R&T class and it’s Earth Month so the Education volunteers are all doing prodigious duty presenting wildlife ambassadors to schools across the valley. It’s a very busy time for us.
As I said above, the doors to OC officially opened up TODAY, but we have been getting babies in for a few weeks now. Med Services have been filling in for the OC staff until they are trained and on line but everybody – including Sophia, our intern from Germany, has been heeding the plaintive peeping from the brooders and feeding hungry gapers.
Our foster parent barn owls (Tyto and Abba) are working full time raising the early arrival orphans which grow so incredibly fast. In one natural clutch, there can be a difference of almost two weeks in the age of the chicks of a barn owl. Unlike ducks which begin incubation as the last egg is laid, barn owls incubate egg one from day one and the eggs hatch sequentially at the far end. This is a survival strategy that has suited them well for several million years but it makes it difficult to manage when you’re in the rehab game!
Not to be outdone, foster parents Igor and Elvira are also busy protecting and feeding several orphan great horned owl babies not of their own making. As I post this, Maggie also has fosters and pretty soon almost all of our GHO “moms” will be feeding families.
Another reason we really need to fund and acquire a digital X-ray machine is that even though our Med Services people are adept at diagnosing fractures and the like by feel, it’s really tough to find a pellet by touch. The metal in firearm projectiles shows up disturbingly well in radiographs and this aids immeasurably in setting up the correct treatment. This young red tail was shot and though the bones in his wing were broken, the nature of the injury wasn’t known until we got this X-ray.
Sigh…OK, there are several products on the market for “pest control” which purport to limit damage caused by insects and other damaging fauna. One such product comes under the name “tanglefoot” which is a thick paste used to keep ants and other crawling insects from damaging trees, etc. Like ALL chemical deterrents, the problem is it’s not species specific and any type of wildlife – insect, mammal, reptile, bird – are all susceptible to the noxious goo. This little house finch came in last week coated with the product and had to undergo several baths of mineral oil and detergent (Dawn) to have her feathers “de-gunked” sufficiently.
This little spiny lizard was brought in last week and his presentation was “lethargic.” I wasn’t sure how you could tell if a lizard was lethargic or not, but it seems he actually did act somewhat out of sorts. He was observed for several days, fed, and finally was taken to be released into a semi-controlled environment where his lack of lizard-like activity wouldn’t place him in jeopardy.
The older male California condor, number 272, is still with us. His fellow patient, female 455, went back north recently for reintroduction to the northern Arizona colony after a near full recovery. This guy, though, stubbornly resists efforts to restore his digestion. He is making progress but it’s incremental and frustrating – especially for Jan and her team who have to do the three-man condor dance several times each day.
And just so you know, our septuagenarian desert tortoise “Grandpa” is doing well. He comes out each morning and is allowed to meander around his old area, watching Tim rebuild enclosures, and looking for eagles to torment, then goes inside at night to rest. I am currently designing a t-shirt with his face on it that we’ll have in the store as soon as it gets printed.