Hoots, Howls, and Hollers
Applause, wild applause, goes to our Orphan Care Department. Last Saturday we took in a total of 72 animals, and that is just crazy. Each of these animals must be admitted, and that means taking the information from the public that brought the animal in or getting it from a rescue person responsible for fetching the more challenging animals. These wide varieties of animals also have to be assessed by the Medical Services volunteer. Those staying in the Orphan Care area are very lucky. We aren’t talking about the raptors yet.
There is a process, of course, for making all of this happen in a way that ensures the best care for each animal. In the Orphan Care area there is always the paperwork…a system designed to follow each baby to its ultimate spot be it a berry basket, brooder, or foster situation. They spend time indoors getting stabilized from ailments like dehydration, broken wings, inability to regulate its own temperature, etc. Those bins, baskets, and brooders all have to be kept clean and ready for the next patient…constant cleaning and refurbishing.
Each of these orphans is banded, and its particular paperwork follows it from bin to brooder and then to an outside flight enclosure when the time comes to ready it for ultimate release into its proper habitat.
And there is the food. Currently there is a wide variety of species that we are dealing with…from hummingbirds to flickers, from roadrunners to killdeer, from doves to finches, from ducks to geese, from little green herons to great grackles. Guess what. They do not all eat the same thing, and they do not all require the same size enclosures, or the same substrate, and we must adapt to their needs. We need to understand and know the needs of 130+ species that we see each year.
There are 6 different aviaries all designed to house compatible species with similar needs and food requirements and someone needs to assess the food needs, the readiness of each individual to move from one “station” in life to another.
This past week eleven different species (remember we aren’t talking about all of our raptor babies) were transitioned into the outside aviaries to get them ready to be released. At the same time the onslaught of deliveries continued in the Orphan Care room, and it will go like this until end of August. There are 76 Orphan Care volunteers who work 4 hour shifts for 12-13 hours a day 7 days a week. That is lights on at 7:00 A.M. until the lights go out at 7-8:00 P.M. The cacophony of little beggers is a constant during the days and demanding beaks and squeaks is the music we hear….the baby chorus!
Here’s the catch…we have just gotten started. The second round is just beginning and most years we get a lesser third round. It is very busy around here. It is a blessing that we have such an awesome group of people tending the nursery. These are volunteers who fill in for each other, support each other, and do an overall wonderful job!
Stay tuned. I am sure you will hear more about this marvelous group of volunteers and the babies they are growing up for release. Rest assured that what you drop off at the window will get the best care possible!!! And, remember that we haven’t yet mentioned the raptors…more to come!
This Week @ Liberty
The intake total is now up to 2649. (And note: It’s only May 25th.)
We’re taking in a LOT of animals right now, so many that the new patients sometimes have to get stacked up. On the other end of the rehabilitation pipeline is the release and a couple of birds made the final jump, including the male California condor, #272, who has been in our care since early January! Plus the usual owls, hawks, bunnies (and snakes!) keep arriving as the season progresses. The volunteers are up to the task and all the animals get the care they need. Here’s some of the recent activity…
As Megan mentioned above, we had a record intake day last week. For a time, the new arrivals got briefly stacked up awaiting their inital assessment before treatment began. But the wait is never too long and soon everyone gets the loving care they need. This is a RARE occurrence at Liberty but the numbers are rising rapidly.
An unlucky gopher snake got tangled up in some garden netting recently and was rescued by some caring people. The snake was caught in plastic net that is used to control foliage on the ground but is also a hazard for ground animals including reptiles. This isn’t the first instance of this we have seen over the years and it probably won’t be the last. People just need to be careful when inserting material like this into the wild environment.
After being taken in for treatment in late December, California condor #272 came to Liberty for care in early January. The next 5 months saw long, arduous treatment for the ravages of lead poisoning. These included the initial surgery on his crop, followed by multiple feedings and hydration every day. This takes its toll on both the bird and the volunteers doing the treatments. Finally, he began to move his food in a normal manner and after his crop was closed surgically, he was well enough to return to the Vermillion Cliffs. His departure marks the longest condor treatment yet at Liberty, but it was successful!
Little animals have shown up recently, including a tiny new bunny that had been attacked by a cat, and this very small barn owl that has a broken hip. Both are getting excellent care by the dedicated staff at Liberty.
It took me two hours to get this little great horned owl out of a chimney in Scottsdale last week. Chimney extractions are all different as each fireplace is made differently and provide unique challenges. This one was larger than most giving the little bird the opportunity to move around and stay ahead of me, but I was finally able to get him free. He was very dehydrated and thin having been trapped for several days before we got the call.
Some of the more “usual” suspects – a young green heron and a little kestrel get treated after being weighed and assessed. Our Medical Services staff are some of the best in the business giving all patients the best chance for survival.
Two hummingbirds were released by volunteer Kim Macchiaroli last week. The little birds decided to hang around the release area for a while giving Kim the chance to take some great pictures of the pair as they explore their new freedom. Thanks, Kim!
Two not-quite-so-common intakes were sharing an inside enclosure last week. A cattle egret (named for their habit of hanging around cattle in a field as they churn up insects as they walk) and a snowy egret (a similar species that wades in shallow water looking for food) came in for unknown injuries and were housed in the same ICU enclosure. Just a photo for all you “power” birders to aid in species identification!
………Remember their sacrifices……..