Hoots, Howls, and Hollers
This time of year is all about releases, and it is one of the best times of our year . It seems like the “pat on the back, good job done”, doesn’t have to come to us verbally…it comes to us with the successful release of the animals that have been put in our care. As I have said, each one of those animals came with at least one human who cared enough to take the time and effort to see that the animal got good care.
And, the good care isn’t complete until the animal is successfully released back into the wild. Our policy is to try to take the animal back to the area it came from. If that isn’t possible, if the habitat is degraded too much for the animals to survive then we seek another area that provides all of the things the animal will need. That, however, isn’t the only other consideration. It is very important for us to be sure we aren’t introducing an animal into an area that has a sensitive species our releasee might interfere with. It would be harmful to release a bird eating raptor into an area where threatened or endangered birds were located. That just makes no sense.
Recently we participated in the release of two great blue herons that came to us as eggs. They were found in a nest that was on a piece of equipment owned by SRP at Roosevelt Lake. The equipment was by necessity checked at least twice a day resulting in a disturbance each time. The nest would have failed. As there was no place safe in the area to move the nest to, it was decided that the eggs would come to Liberty to be hatched and raised to fledgling age. Following our basic rule, the fledglings were brought back to their natal area and released. It was a huge success thanks to the quick actions of SRP.
Another release of water birds happened on Oak Creek a few weeks ago. These egrets were brought in as babies and came from an area to which they could not be returned. We looked into other areas and found a perfect spot. Another successful release ensued.
Another example of a successful, if not traditional, release was a year or so back. We were the temporary caretakers of a young golden eagle that fell from its nest. After injuries were addressed it was decided that the best thing to do would be to take it to an area that biologists knew had a newly fledged golden eagle of similar age. It wasn’t our eagle’s family. Immediately after being placed in the new nest, it fledged again (it was time) and hung around. The interesting thing is that the adult eagles allowed him to stay in the area benefiting from their teachings of their own chick. A wild foster…we have done this with younger bald eagles but never with a fledgling golden. This was another huge success with the help of eagle biologists at Game and Fish. That young golden has made it through the dangerous early years and is actively moving around the state.
As the summer ends and the babies are released we know that they will have to win a territory of their own, no matter if they fledged from their actual nests or if they were assisted by us. True success is released wildlife that fits in, finds a territory, successfully finds a mate and doesn’t disturb, but rather maintains the balance.
This Week @ Liberty
The intake total for this year is now at 5769.
Everybody is ready for the summer to be over, and yet the babies still keep coming in! Another week-old barn owl just arrived, and an immature turkey vulture was brought in. We are beginning to release the orphan crop from this year, and one of our long-time volunteers also flew to freedom! Work begins on the site of our new facility and the education season starts to gear up with an art show in Tempe. It all happened this week @ Liberty…!
As Vizzini said in The Princess Bride, “INCONCEIVABLE!!” Our friend Sandy Anderson down on the San Pedro River sent us this week old barn owl baby who somehow escaped his nest last week. Just when our foster parents were feeling good about being through for the year…! Oh well, there’s always room for one more baby owl!
So as if first year red tail hawks don’t face enough in their fight to survive, this little kid has to get shot with a pellet gun! John and Balinda rescued him from a backyard in Maryvale and took him to the ICU. Alex and Amyra removed the projectile and now he is awaiting X-rays to see if there are any more. As a migratory raptor, this and all hawks are protected by federal law and shooting them is a federal crime that can be prosecuted by the USFW.
Liberty Wildlife has spread its wings into the local art scene this summer, participating in the “Birds of a Feather” exhibition at the beautiful Tempe Center for the Arts This three-month art show features the work of several area artists including our own Anne Peyton. In addition, Anne has taught two drawing sessions for kids (and anyone older who felt the calling to pick up pencil and paper), with the help of our avian ambassadors and Education team members Carol, Donna and Craig. Liberty Wildlife also presented at a recent Friday Lifelong Learning event, showcasing six of our ambassadors that live “wild in the city.” If you haven’t been to the TCA, located on Tempe Town Lake, to see the free art exhibit, there’s still time. The show runs through Sept. 19. Tell them Liberty sent you. – story by Craig Fischer.
The medical work at Liberty goes on regardless of the season or the weather. The volunteers are trained by Jan Miller and after several weeks of class work and hands-on practice, they all work a shift where actual experience is obtained working with the injured animals under the supervision of a vet or CVT.
The pintail duck has been x-rayed and it was discovered it had fractured both the radius and the ulna in one wing. The next step is surgery with possible pinning to align and hold the bones while they heal. I’ll try to keep you updated as the bird progresses.
Since the yellow billed cuckoo was brought to us by one of the Cuckoo Project co-leaders, the bird is being measured and weighed every day as it rapidly grows. The cuckoo – a relative of the road runner – is not uncommon back east, but out here in the west it is rare and considered either threatened or endangered. Habitat protection is critical and extraordinary efforts are being made to preserve a core colony where ever possible. Liberty is more than happy to be a part of providing this pretty little bird the protection it needs.
Last week a Nashville warbler came in presenting a head trauma. This small warbler is fairly common in both the east and the west, often seen foraging in thickets and young trees, flicking its short tail frequently as it seeks insects among the foliage. Pioneer birdman Alexander Wilson encountered this bird first near Nashville, Tennessee, and it has been called Nashville Warbler ever since – even though Wilson’s birds were just passing through on migration, and the species does not nest anywhere near Tennessee. Sadly, the pretty little bird did not survive his injuries.
The weekly gallery…
A western screech owl has that look about him – total humiliation at treatment in the ICU!
Volunteer Corey Shaw had his last day on Friday. He is going back to school to study Wildlife Conservation Management.
One of our orphan squirrels nears release…
Click here for a lighthearted video showing progress on the new facility site.