Hoots, Howls, and Hollers
Last Friday, the third Friday in May, was Endangered Species Day. It seems odd to “celebrate” endangered species…we should be celebrating “no endangered species day”, but that isn’t the reality. What is actually spotlighted on the third Friday of May is the importance of diversity in our wildlife and our wild places…their habitats. It is more often than not, the loss of those wild places that result in endangered species. We recognize the importance and necessity of both.
So, I was thinking about the “talk” that rattles on about species becoming extinct all of the time and that we should just let nature take its course…and of course it isn’t nature taking its course so much as humans taking their courses. The rattling doesn’t really take into consideration the connectedness of things and this brought to mind the quote by John Muir: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”
But I continued to think about species that I wouldn’t mind seeing the tail end of and flies and mosquitoes came quickly to mind. As the days warm up, and it is wonderful to have windows and doors open to the outside or to spend some quality time out of doors, the negative of flies and mosquitoes rears its ugly head.
What good are they anyway? As annoying as they are they do serve important purposes. If you can get past the part of mosquitoes killing more people around the world than just about any other insect, you find that the larvae of the mosquito provides an enormous biomass of food which is critically important particularly to the aquatic food chain. They have been around since the Cretaceous period and are also a part of the connectivity to birds, bats and spiders (now there’s another one I am not too willing to cozy up to, but get the importance of…). Without food for birds, bats, spiders and the complex aquatic world the comfortable web of life that we have adapted to would be quite different and would probably soon be minus the human race.
I tried again to find a species that I thought I could do without and focused on flies. Aside from being pretty good at swatting them (I do warn them before I go after them), I was eagerly imagining their absence. Research once again showed me the errors of my thinking. There is the fact that fly larvae assist forensic scientists in determining the time of death of a corpse. Ok, I guess that is important. And, they have for years and years, and still do help medically by eating dead tissue and bone to assist in healing from injuries…this is a fact, I do not lie. Larvae are placed on the skin of an injured person and the larvae feasts leaving behind what they leave behind which acts to further clean up the wound. I guess that is pretty nifty. And, they are greatly important in the deterioration of the dead bodies and yes, poop, that are rampant in the out of doors. They also provide food for other animals, being low on the food chain. Once again an interruption at the bottom does nasty work at the top…which would be us.
I won’t go on. I gave up my thoughts of species I would like to see disappear and will continue to swat and slap while respecting the importance of diversity of wildlife and wild places. Here’s a Save the Date reminder for each of you: Celebrate Endangered Species Day next year on the third Friday of May. We do find everything hitched to everything else in the universe.
This Week @ Liberty
The intake number is now up to 2348.
Things are getting back to a little more normal as we inch past W4W 2015, but there was another fundraising event yesterday, a motorcycle ride (Born to B Wild) as a part of Bike Week 2015 with proceeds going to help Liberty. More orphans are coming in daily and a couple animals got released plus the male condor, #252, is finally well enough to have his final surgery and get ready to go back to the Vermillion Cliffs soon. We are again partnering with Iberdrola Renewables to help them relocate some prairie dogs near their wind farm up north, and one of our flight enclosures has now been rededicated to being a duck pen hosting several dozen (and growing!) orphan ducklings. Lets see what it looked like this week…
Periodically, Claudia takes people on guided birding tours so the volunteers can get to see birds NOT in enclosures or suffering from injuries. Recently she took six volunteers down to Patagonia where her Tuesday Daily Care and Hand Feed team got to enjoy some time away from the valley and engage in some team-building in a beautiful setting. (See? It’s not all dead mice and flies!) Thanks to Claudia for all she does!
Recently Liberty entered into a renewed partnership with Iberdrola Renewables, a branch of the international energy company providing wind and other advanced technology energy production. These funds will enable us to join with them to relocate a colony of prairie dogs near their Arizona wind farm in order to minimize the impact of the turbines on a local golden eagle population.
As always this time of year, the numbers of foster baby great horned owls grows dramatically. Currently we have at least four foster families in the process of raising orphans on the property, with Igor and Elvira tied with Josie and Wyatt, both of which have 17 fosters in their care. Smaller groups are with Maggie, Snickers and Heddy. We certainly expect the numbers to continue to rise as the summer progresses.
One of the biggest sources of intakes of late has been ducklings! The parents set up a nest under foliage in someone’s backyard pool area and 4 weeks later, one day there are a whole family of ducklings paddling in the pool! We try to intervene before they hatch but once they come out, they have to be removed as they will certainly starve in short order. At that point, catching the mom is critical as then the whole family (the babies are fairly easy to catch in the water) can be relocated to a more natural environment. If the mom flies off, then the babies have to come to a rehabilitation facility as they cannot survive without parental protection until they can fly – which may be 3 months down the road. And here we are with this story: the ducklings above have no parents and are with us until they are flighted!
And while we’re talking about babies needing care, I had to enter this baby cottontail in the “Cutest baby of the week” contest…along with the ground squirrels, antelope squirrels, etc…
(It’s nice to have Dr. Orr around to help out with the vet duties when they are needed!) This was last week prior to the next story, the last surgery on Condor #272!)
Last week condor #272, the male that arrived last January, is finally almost ready to go home. This bird was a real challenge as his progress from his initial arrival with lead poisoning was excruciatingly slow and punctuated by phugoid-type oscillations of improvements and setbacks. But now, he is better and as soon as he is healed from the surgery to close his crop, he’ll be driven back to the Vermillion Cliffs to rejoin the flock!
A benefit event was held on Sunday during “Bike Week” terminating at the Grand Canyon Harley-Davidson in Mayer, AZ. Bikers from the Phoenix area, Scottsdale, and Flagstaff all rode to Mayer. The lucky bikers got to listen to live music, have lunch, and learn about Arizona wildlife up close and personal as Liberty presented an array of education hawks, owls, falcons and an eagle. The weather was perfect and everyone seemed to enjoy the day, especially a lucky red tail hawk who got released during the event! Thanks go out to Two Gals Events for arranging the program for us!