Hoots, Howls, and Hollers
Sunday morning bits and pieces of my neighbor’s property were strewn around my yard and floating in my pool. The first of the monsoon season has happened here. It wasn’t the monsoon I had hoped for. Instead this came with the fury of the winds and was dry to the bone. Bummer! As big weather events go, it was electrifying, exciting, energizing…while it was happening. As in all weather events that include wind and water, one is quick to learn that they are strong minded and can’t be dissuaded from their intent. Stopping coursing water or the fury of winds just isn’t in the cards…they do what they want to do, and we mortals are left to clean up the mess. Yesterday was no exception to that rule.
And, at Liberty Wildlife the scenario is pretty much the same. We can count on a vast number of calls to the Hotline from folks like you looking for assistance with the baby/ies and nests that have blown out of trees or in some cases entire trees have become unmoored and….down come babies…cradle and all.
The next thing that happens is the crunch of gravel as cars drive into the parking lot bringing us the gifts of nature they found as a result of the storm. Just when we had a drop off from the onslaught of the previous week it happens again. Whew!
Despite the trashed yard and pool and the unfortunate orphans, I do look forward to the monsoon season. Humidity aside, there seems to be some relief from the high temperatures (I hope!) and a myriad of nature events occur…all planned to coincide with the summer monsoons. The negatives of course are lightening caused fires and rivers and streams that roil wildly taking down things in their path…like trees with nests. But the positive far outweighs the negative.
Riparian areas are recharged. New waters spur plant growth. Summer grasses grow and plants bloom and seed, providing food for the newborns as they leave the safety of parents. Many animals that normally live in burrows underground begin to surface providing a plethora of opportunities to view seldom seen creatures.
Gila monsters surface to drink water and feed on mice and eggs more plentiful at this time of year. Vinegaroons, one of my favorite insects, make their way above ground. Spadefoot toads take the opportunity to procreate and leave eggs behind in quickly drying pooled water while filling the air with their croaking sounds often described as “the bleating of a dying lamb”….really? With the surge of plant growth come the critters who feed on plants. With the appearance of critters that feed on plants come other critters that feed on plant eaters…see how it is all connected!
So when you sit on the porch and watch the storms move in, take in the excitement of the storm and prepare for the ‘after effects’. Know that all sorts of things are happening around you that represent the recharging of the environment and pause a minute to suck in a lung full of freshened air. Then deal with the potential monsoon season hangover…your neighbor’s detritus in your pool and yard. It may not seem like it, but it is worth it.
This Week@ Liberty
The intake total for the year has now reached 4351.
The rate of intakes has dropped slightly as we approach the onset of monsoon season. A wind storm did hit on Saturday and we got a slight uptick on Sunday as a number of birds were blown from the safety of their nests, but over-all, the absolute inundation we received in recent weeks seems to have abated – for now. The volunteers in OC are still doing prodigious duty in caring for their tiny charges and doing so in the cramped, hot (yeah, it’s air-conditioned, but they’re are a LOT of heating pads in use!) Orphan care area. Even in the heat of the summer, every patient gets the best care possible. Here’s what happened this week…
Since we try very hard to avoid improper imprinting of the orphans in the foster care area, the volunteers in Daily Care who have to work among the fosters have to wear a camouflage pancho and hood while doing their jobs. This gets even tougher when the temperature gets into the triple digits. Just ask volunteer Jim McClain!
But as the heat wears on, the intake rate has declined somewhat after the plateau of 80-90 per day last week. I thought it was significant to photograph the intake brooder and a couple of overflow berry baskets empty at 3:30PM Saturday afternoon!
The Orphan Care volunteers are among the most dedicated people at the facility, working under constant pressure and in not the best conditions. The space is limited and they are constantly bombarded with new arrivals at the intake window. But through it all, they still find time to smile as they feed the hundreds of baby birds begging food in the berry baskets that are their homes until release. We all salute you! When we are in our new home next year, we hope it will be a little more pleasant in terms of the conditions in which we work.
Not all the babies are tiny. The falcons can be a handful and the waders and waterfowl are bigger to start with and grow fast when fed the proper diet. We have taken in several herons and egrets this year, including a couple that actually hatched at the facility. This along with dozens of kestrels means a lot of hungry birds who eat more fish and mice each day.
It’s incredible how rapidly baby animals grow, from the nestling Gila woodpecker, to the orphaned cottontail, to the little gray hawk that came up from the San Pedro river recently. This small bird is not so small anymore and is recovering slowly from the injury he experienced, most likely from a fall from the nest. A home-made nest was constructed in a brooder and now serves as his temporary home as he heals from the wing damage he sustained in the wild.
Yesterday I went down to Firebird Lake on a rescue call from two gentlemen who found this injured juvenile ring-billed gull. The bird had been on the ground for several days and was extremely weak and dehydrated when I picked him up. It was reported that there had been others of this species on the lake earlier but they left leaving this youngster behind. When we got to Liberty, he was immediately given fluids and some real food (the fish in Firebird Lake are very small) and allowed to rest in a warm brooder to allow his stress level to decrease. However, by late afternoon his condition had worsened and early in the evening, he died peacefully. Birds, especially juveniles, get to a certain point during periods of starvation when they are no longer able to recover regardless of the care or treatment they receive.
This little baby raccoon was brought to us by volunteer Sherrill Snyder. She drove to the western border of the state and picked up the raccoon, two kestrels, and a great horned owl from another rehabber near Lake Havasu. Then, after all that driving, she took the raccoon up to SW Wildlife for further care. Thank you Sherrill!
It’s not a myth that babies sleep most of the time. This tiny baby bird was photographed as he napped after being fed by one of our awesome OC volunteers. I just thought it was a nice picture to include after another hectic week.