Hoots, Howls, and Hollers
We had a small event at our new property yesterday…a prize to the winning Eagle Team from our Wild Things game at Wishes for Wildlife, 2014. See This Week @ Liberty for more information about this happening. It was fun to see people standing in what would be the Children’s Interactive room or the Surgical Suite or the Wetland Overlook. What you couldn’t see, of course, because there is only the outline of the building, are the many things designed to make our building and total operation as sustainable as possible. We will be chasing LEED certification….hopefully at the Platinum level.
One of the important things for us to concentrate on is water and watershed management. We live in the desert…remember. From the ‘get go’ we have concentrated on sustainable features. We chose a piece of land that is pretty much the center of the Valley. We want to be easily available to schools, visitors, animal drop offs, volunteers, so that facility availability works for as many people as possible.
We chose a piece of land that is rehabbed. We didn’t seek a pristine piece of desert and scrape it for a building and enclosures. No, we took a piece of land that had been destroyed by the mining of gravel. It was restored to a strip of land ready to be ‘fixed’, and it will be fixed. You might say that we have a very clean pallet on which to place precious plants that might have been there before the mining happened. We are following all of the requirements placed on development of the area by the Rio Salado Restoration Area guidelines.
Back to the water, it is important that the spongy ground percolates, and that there isn’t a major run off of water into the river. (Run off is diverted to bio-swells in our landscaping plan.) No one wants unknown stuff coursing through the river and neither do we. We are all about renewing the river and re-creating the ribbon of water and riparian habitat that used to meander through our desert. Our building grounds are designed to have retention basins that will allow the water to seep into the ground in a timely manner.
Our building is designed with a roof that collects the water and guides it into an underground storage area to be reused on our natural desert landscaping. The water that we use to clean enclosures will be re-used to water vegetation and to add to the nutrient that feeds the thirsty, hungry desert plants. Our wetlands area will be designed to contain water also.
The plumbing features in the building will all be designed to conserve water and to minimize water that eventually goes to the sewer systems of the city. Policy will be initiated that is designed to limit water usage where it is possible and when possible that water that can be re- used will be turned into ‘gray water’ that will be transferred to other areas of the facility and grounds.
Finally, our educational message will have a major water conservation element to it, and all of the features in our design will be highlighted to show the public what can be done without a lot of expense…simple things to help save our quality of life in the desert…for all living things.
This Week @ Liberty
The intake total for this year is now at 93.
OK, this is supposed to be the slow time of year for Liberty, but last week was anything but slow. Along with the first baby bunny of the year, we took in a second California condor, an adult brown pelican, and 5 mute swans! While all this was going on, we were also planning and arranging for our show at the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament, and the first ever event at the site of our new home on the Rio Salado plus a special training session for advanced rescue techniques involving waterfowl. It was a BIG week for sure, so let,s jump right to it…
Yes, rabbits breed like, well, rabbits! The first of many to be sure, this little guy is currently getting neonatal care from the Med Services volunteers until he gets big enough to move outside prior to release down the road. (It’s gonna be another long year!)
The usual work of medical care for some serious injuries continues with some treatment of a few raptors. The Prairie falcon had his wing unwrapped revealing an apparently fused joint which, while not life threatening, would most likely jeopardize his candidacy for release. The Harris’ hawk was another victim of avian canker which caused some damage to the sinus area. This is slow to heal and he is fighting recurring infections but with the help of Jan and Dr. Wyman, is improving slowly. The kestrel presented a head injury with blood in his eye. He is also improving with care and was able to join other kestrels outside last week.
On to waterfowl! We took in a duck with the ever present bane of local water birds – fishing line! The gentleman who brought her in had already removed the hook and some of the line which had broken through the skin and was nearly severing the leg. We hope the circulation will return and the leg can be salvaged. The little cormorant has a serious deformation of the upper mandible. We’re not sure whether this is a genetic anomaly or the result of an injury, but the bird is apparently able to eat on his own. This would be a surprising adaptation and we will watch him closely over time to determine if he is releasable.
We got a call last week that DPS was bringing in a pelican who was found wandering on the 202 near Tempe Town Lake. When the officer arrived in his cruiser, I met him and went to take out the box with the bird, only to discover that there was no box, just a large adult brown pelican sitting in the back seat of the car (now I know why the back seats of police cruisers are plastic!) Presenting a wing injury of unknown origin and severity, the bird was hydrated and his wing was wrapped. We’ll keep you posted on his progress.
One of the largest single rescue efforts in recent memory was mounted last week as a fountain in a Sun City lake began spewing oil after being repaired. The oil formed a slick on the lake which eventually killed over 25 ducks and coated five large swans living at the lake. A rescue team was formed consisting of myself, Tim, Tony, and Carl who went to the lake the next day and with the help of two residents with electric boats, were able to capture the remaining birds and transport them to Liberty for cleaning. As soon as the oil can be removed from the lake, they will all be returned to their home to the delight of the residents.
Amid all the other activity, another California condor, number 272, arrived for lead poisoning treatment. One of the older birds to come in, this guy is quite aggressive and had been in treatment at the Vermillion Cliffs facility prior to being brought to Liberty. He now joins condor 455 at Liberty for continued care and treatment.
Yesterday, Sunday January 25, we held a mini-event at the site of the new Liberty Wildlife on the Rio Salado to release a red-tailed hawk by the winners of the game show at last year’s Wishes for Wildlife. The weather was perfect, the crowd was intimate, and it seemed everyone enjoyed the experience of seeing where we will be going next year. I had too many photos to add so I made a short slide show which I hope you will watch by clicking HERE!