Hoots, Howls, and Hollers
Last week I wrote about releases…proper ones as opposed to not so proper ones. This week I want to talk about fun releases…releases that you might think aren’t so cool. And, you would be thinking so wrong.
The “cool” releases are often thought to be the raptors, the big guys at the top of the food chain. And, indeed, they are very cool…and very brief. Releasing an eagle or great horned owl go back into the wild is like being part of an “I am so out of here” burst of furious feathered energy. They want no part of us and in general make a hasty bolt to the farthest spot away from the human captors. It is impressive. In my experience the one exception to this is the American kestrel who on many occasions circles the release spot shrieking its kee kee kee sounds which could mean “thank you very much” but probably really means “catch me if you can!”
I have participated in two releases this season that stand out to me as just plain fun and special. The first was a release of a mallard duck family that had been “rescued” from the backyard pool of a kind but weary family who thought it was so cute at first but when the pool is fouled along with the rest of the yard, the cuteness wears thin and a rescue is called for. (As an aside, we suggest this duck-nesting-in-the-yard behavior be nipped in the bud.) However, when it is necessary it is always best if the mother can be captured with the babies, and that was the case with this trusting duck family. They were relocated in a
fabulous spot along Oak Creek. When they were freed from the carrier they went, yes, like ducks to the water, where they preened, dove, fed, preened, dove, swam to the islands, preened, fed, dove and eventually regrouped in a little duck regatta swimming in unison up and down the creek. They were jubilant! And, they are still in the same area, still an intact family, still swimming up and down the creek.
The other really delightful release was that of a covey of quail. This year we raised a whole lot of quail babies…some from eggs, some from tiny fledglings, some a bit older. They seem to be one of rescuers favorite subjects probably because they seem so vulnerable as they are on the run soon after hatching. There is no time spent in the nest being coddled by mom and dad. They are born to run, and they must keep up. Often well-meaning rescuers nab a little one who seems abandoned and bring it in to us to finish raising. Sometimes it is necessary and sometimes it isn’t but by the time we get them they are ours to raise.
When they are released they do the most fun things. They seem less horrified at their human releasers and after a momentary flutter away from the carrier, they are often seem coming out of hiding and finding the most available loose dirt where they dust bathe with wild abandon. It is almost like a need to get human cooties off of them—right now! So they flutter in the dirt, flapping their wings to get complete coverage and then shake it all out…cooties and all, of course. In between dust baths they dive into the feeding frenzy and peck at the ground searching for any food available. They are mesmerizing and adorable.
Unlike the raptor burst of escape energy, the ducks and quail provide a nice show for anyone who will take the time to enjoy it. I highly recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity. They may not be at the top of the food chain, in fact, quite the opposite, but they are totally endearing and worthy of a second chance.
This Week @ Liberty
The total intakes for the year have reached 5851.
The heat is unrelenting this month, and I spent most of the week fighting with recalcitrant plumbing and obstreperous air conditioners. We’re all just trying to keep this place together until we move to the new facility but sometimes it feels like a losing battle. the bottom line is I was so busy I didn’t have a chance to get many photos of the Vet Night activities so, lacking that, I thought I’d take this opportunity to post some of the cool photos that the volunteers have sent me the past few weeks and months. I don’t even know who sent some of them so if I don’t give you proper credit, I apologize. Here we go…
You know it’s REALLY hot when the turkey vultures are on the ground sitting in the shade under a tree in the park! Normally, you see a squad of TVs either in a tree with wings spread to acquire heat(!), or flying in circles making use of the heat from the desert floor which provides thermals supporting their gliding flight. Jan took this one day recently.
On Tuesday morning, the A/C unit in the ICU gave up the ghost. It was replaced Wednesday morning but by Thursday morning, the second unit was also dying. When it went, it took the circuit breaker with it causing a power outage around 6:30AM. The stalwart volunteers kept working, making the best of a dark situation until the electrician came soon after and diagnosed the problem. Smooth sailing then…uh, not really…
Also on Tuesday morning one of the Daily Care hose bibs broke and briefly flooded the enclosure aisle. Again, the volunteers took it in stride until it was rapidly capped, and later repaired permanently. If we can just hold this place together another few months….!!
The little yellow billed cuckoo is growing faster than you can imagine and will probably be released by the time this is posted. His leg is almost entirely healed and he will be taken back to the dedicated habitat for his species.
Releases are always fast, but fun! Last week OC and R&T volunteers Marilyn and Dave Brunn got to release a few of the baby doves for whom they were caring just days before. The smile tells the whole story!
And speaking of releases, here’s a short video of a friend of Nina’s releasing one of our (over 70!) orphaned great horned owls from this year! (Click here) GHO
A couple months ago Susie sent me this picture of a great blue heron at the moment of hatching. Our super-whiz-bang high-tech incubator gives not only the proper amount of heat, but also controls the humidity and provides the desired rotation for best results. This is one of the birds Megan mentioned in HHH last week.
The volunteers thought this picture taken by Kim was worth posting – it shows Rosie, one of our education gila monsters, displaying a heart shaped arrangement of beads on her head.
A great shot of Amyra assisted by Scott carefully cutting a garden net that had entrapped a gopher snake. This is not the first time this has happened and we hope people don’t feel so afraid of snakes that when they find one in trouble, they don’t call for help.
A few weeks ago we got in some baby raccoons which needed TLC from our volunteers. Stacey seems to be enjoying the opportunity to bottle feed this little guy before he was transferred. We will be keeping most of the mammals when we move to the new facility as space for them is in the plans.
The construction update:
It’s coming, folks! Don’t let anybody tell you different!