Hoots, Howls, and Hollers
Good Samaritans are unfortunately not a dime a dozen. When I encounter one I always feel up lifted. Sunday was an uplifting day. I missed a call from an old friend as I labored in my yard….catching the cloud cover and taking advantage of it whenever possible. But he left a long message so that I could call him back with my “sage” advice. (His words not mine.)
He was on his way for a day hike in the redwoods in northern California while visiting with his family. With a friend, he was looking forward to a peaceful day in nature. Heading to a popular hiking spot that is part of a state park, he was in the right place at the right time to see the beautiful red shouldered hawk take off from the side of the road with a rodent in its talons, only to be clipped by a passing motorcycle (who kept going…thus not the Good Samaritan). The hawk was buffeted up into the air and fortunately landed in the middle of the road where this little bit of safety kept it from being hit by other motorists.
David did an immediate about face and retrieved the unfortunate hawk moving it to safety. But that good deed wasn’t enough. He called me. I failed him by being outside without my phone. That didn’t daunt him. He called the Liberty Wildlife Hotline to ask for advice, and they got right back to him. There didn’t appear to be any kind of rehab facility in the area, so he decided to call the local Humane Society who agreed to send a truck out to fetch the bird.
As if that weren’t enough, he managed to move the bird into an open field so that if it managed to pull itself together, it wouldn’t attempt to fly back into harm’s way…the road. By this time its respiration had improved, he had opened his eyes and was standing, but it didn’t appear that he had full extension of both wings…flight didn’t seem to be eminent.
Now the hiking trip was more than an hour delayed and yet, David agreed to wait near the bird until the Humane Society truck could arrive from a town not that close to where they were in the boonies. But stay he did. I am really feeling good now because my faith in mankind has been renewed. He sent photos of the bird, and it was as beautiful as he said. The first one shows it laid out on his back seemingly dead. The last of the four photos shows the red shouldered hawk standing as if ready to take flight.
Kudos to my old friend who took the time to save a fellow traveler on this planet, who went to a lot of trouble to help this injured animal, who didn’t turn his head the other way so as not to interrupt plans, who actually made it a learning experience for him and for his friend.
They will both be forever changed by the experience. In his words, “I felt so honored to be able to do what I did!” I do have nice friends and to him a huge thank you for lifting my spirits, for saving the red shouldered hawk and for being one of the select few who get to have such a personal experience with a wild thing in a wild setting.
Can you see me smiling?
This Week @ Liberty
The intake total for the year is now at 4770.
The intake rate has fallen considerably over the past couple weeks, and although that has given everyone a chance to take a breath, we all are all aware that with over five months and one monsoon to get through, we are nowhere near out of the woods yet. We had a couple of interesting arrivals, a few more orphans of various species, and some longer term patients that are still in our care after time. But we are ALL thankful for the mid-summer lull in the deluge of animals that hit last month (there is even a pool within the volunteers to predict how many intakes we will have when the year finally ends!) Here’s what we were looking at recently…
A lot of people are unaware that we have two types of pelicans in North America: The brown ones that inhabit the coastal areas and are the most familiar, and the white ones which tend to hang around lakes and fresh water. We have seen a couple of white pelicans at Liberty over the years, including one that we sent to the Birmingham Zoo in Alabama. Last week this beautiful bird was found near Tempe Town Lake in a place that was too small for him to fly away. Pelicans, like a lot of water birds, have a very high wing-loading which requires a long “runway” for take-off. Tim brought him in for a quick examination, and then took him back to the lake where he was able to again do his job being a professional fisherman.
This spiny softshell turtle was brought in when it was suspected to have ingested a fishing hook. Currently we are waiting for either x-rays or an endoscopy to confirm this so we we can decide on further treatment. These guys are not common in this area so we suspect he was brought in by somebody who found him elsewhere and decided to make him a pet, then released him locally.
On Vet Night last Tuesday, Dr. Orr presided over the activity handling the examinations, treatment, and records of the animals in the ICU. She was assisted by Sharon and Susie while Jan and the rest of the Tuesday volunteers went to get X-rays of several birds at the clinic where Dr. Wyman works.
We sometimes talk about “good breaks” and “bad breaks” and X-rays can show the difference. The top X-ray is one wing of a great horned owl who had a similar fracture on the opposite wing. As we can see, both the radius and ulna are not only broken but badly misaligned. Although these fractures are mid-shaft (between joints), this bird had to be euthanized as it would never be able to use its wings again. The bottom picture is of the harris’ hawk brought to us wrapped up by a falconer (see last week’s TW@L). This shows that only the ulna is fractured and it is again, mid-shaft. The prognosis for this bird is good with proper care and treatment.
Screech owls are some of the cutest, most interesting birds with which we deal. Some of them will “play dead” as a defense mechanism, narrowing their eyes to mere slits and not moving a muscle until the perceived threat goes away. The one in the bottom photo is using the other defense posture, making himself look as big and tall as possible to try to intimidate any potential attacker.
We’ve had a few cattle egrets arrive this year, including this little guy. Orphaned at a very early age, he is being cared for and fed by the Med Services team until he can go outside and feed himself in the outside enclosure. As we pointed out not long ago, these birds follow cattle as they graze in big fields, eating the insects that the large ruminants stir up as they walk in the high grass.
The juvenile black hawk in one of the rehab side enclosures is getting his first year plumage in. It shows what a beautiful bird he will become as he develops into adulthood. We still plan to release him when the time comes… Genes that handsome need to be in the pool!
I intercepted this little verdin right before Susie released him last week. Verdin are very pretty little (and I do mean little!) birds that are probably frequently overlooked in the backyard due to their diminutive stature. Their vocalization is also small, but very melodious if you know what you’re listening for.
And lest we forget how many orphans we’ve taken in this year, here are SOME of the tags for the birds in with our foster parent kestrels. (NOTE: These are just the kestrels… we have many, many more GHO, RTH, barn owl, and Harris’ hawk orphans in with foster parents. We have so many that we ran out of the blue tags and had to improvise with pink ones!