Hoots, Howls, and Hollers
Many people today are concerned with sustainability. This is a big concept with many tentacles… sustainability in farming and fishing practices, water, air, habitat, and wildlife policies to name a few. And, the list goes on. Liberty Wildlife is also focused on sustainability in all of these areas and more. One that must be near and dear to the heart of any non-profit organization is sustainability when it comes to finances. We must at all times strive to know the best ways to run an organization frugally while still furthering our mission.
A place like Liberty Wildlife must first be able to care for all of the charges put in our hands for rehabilitation and readiness for release back into the wild. For Liberty Wildlife this can be challenging as we have as many as 5,000 and this year maybe 6,000+ animals to care for, and this usually includes a variety of over 130-140 different species of animals. That equates to a large food bill, with meal worms and crickets for the insect eaters right up there at the top of the shopping list along with rats, mice and other prey items necessary for these rehabilitating animals.
Last year our insect eaters consumed 284,250 worms and 91,000 crickets. They must have their protein fix to grow strong to be able to survive in the wild…our goal. Our total food bill last year was $104,466 dollars and insects were a large part of the total. That makes that a great target for reduction if possible.
So in our efforts toward sustainability we looked around and saw a possible solution. We seem to be a draw for flies. Go figure. While fly strips or “big stinky” traps were successful at quelling the onslaught of flies, the methods left the potential food source unusable.
So, in his normal creative efforts, Terry Stevens, our Operations Manager, researched and found a bountiful solution. A new fly trap was experimented with, and it met with great success. The gizmo (see the photo) allows the flies to check in but not check out. The bait is stinky but not toxic and is irresistible to flies. Here’s the good part. By freezing the full fly trap in the freezer (just animal food freezer…) the flies go to sleep (in the dead way) and can be harvested for use with the insect eaters. And, the bait can be thawed out and reused. Now if that isn’t a cool solution, I don’t know what is. No longer do we see unsightly fly strips hanging from the ceiling with trapped flies adorning them, nor do we have wild and sustained swatting of flies wasting our energy for no longer usable food sources.
With this new solution, the flies are easily harvested. They are packaged in handy plastic containers. They are placed in containers in the insect eaters cages where the animals like black necked stilts, can often be seen standing at the door to the enclosure awaiting the delivery of flash frozen, recently thawed flies. Happy critters make me happy. It makes me happy that the process keeps the flies from unwanted places. But it really makes me happy that this is pretty much a free source of food.
This Week @ Liberty
The intake total is now at 5308.
Well, I was right. We ran past last year’s total number of intakes a couple of days ago. Every new arrival from now until December 31st will set a new record. The good news is, every day we pass now will be the last of that date in this facility as work on the new Liberty Wildlife on the Rio Salado begins this week! We made some progress on a few patients, took in some interesting new animals, finished some great projects, and did some off-season educating! All-in-all, not a bad week to break an all-time record! And as Sonny and Cher used to say, “the beat goes on…”
If you remember a couple weeks ago, we took in a spiny softshell turtle who had swallowed a fish hook. We were concerned that he would require surgery as the hook was quite deep in his body. I took him down to Dr. Driggers last week and retrieved him today but Dr. Driggers was happy to report that he didn’t have to remove the hook surgically. He was able to do it with his small scope, pushing then pulling the hook until it was removed. Now the little guy will just need a week or so of medication and observation and he’ll be releasable! Thanks, Dr. D!
The Orphan care staff is still motoring on, with a little over a month to go in the official “Baby Bird Season” to go. It’s been a good year so far with no major problems and everyone looking forward to the new facility next year. And so many, many babies have been raised from eggs to fledglings!
We do get a lot of owls in over time, including most of the Arizona species. Some are classic in their morphology, some not so much. Last week during “Vet Night” I noticed two very dissimilar looking barnies that warranted a photo to display how different two birds of the same species can be, even from the same general area (Arizona). One was extremely light with a very white breast, the other very dark with dark markings overall. Both are very beautiful birds!
Tuesday is Vet Night at the Liberty ICU and lately we have had the privilege of having not only the wonderful services of Jan, Joanie, Toba, Sharon and the rest of the Med Services crew, but three veterinarians, all experienced in wildlife medicine. Dr. Orr, Dr. Wyman, and now Dr. Becker work side-by-side treating the injured birds and mammals who have been brought to our facility for help. It is an awesome sight to see the whole team working on these lucky animals who have fallen into this operation just when they needed it the most.
Last week, the Harris’ hawk with the injured wing that came in wrapped up in a falconer’s straight jacket was deemed fit enough to go outside. Susie and Dr. Wyman put an identifying band on his leg and placed him in the HaHa flight enclosure with several other rehabbing Harris’ hawks. The next step is flight practice and muscle development prior to release!
The young stilt seen eating the flies above got to go free last week. I had seen some others of his type when I rescued that gull a few weeks ago and returned this little guy to the show where he joined a few other stilts, a couple of geese, a few plovers and a number of killdeer. All-in-all, a great release as I saw him begin to probe the sand for food as I drove away.
The good folks at AZGFD brought us another bald eagle last Friday. This bird has a loose shoulder (you can see it in the photo) and has a slight problem flying right now. After we get X-rays, we’ll know more about specific treatment avenues. We’ll keep you posted!
Recently Liberty completed a project for Iberdrola Renewables up at their wind farm. Some prairie dogs were relocated by Nina and her R&C team. It seems the power people were concerned that the resident prairie dogs would attract golden eagles and then become an issue with the wind turbines. It was several weeks long and a lot of grueling work performed by the Research and Conservation team in the effort to protect the PD’s and the eagles!