In honor of Labor Day, we’re doing what Americans do today – not laboring!
TW@L and HHH will be back next Monday as we press on through the late summer heat!
Stay cool and be careful. See you next week!
(The intake for the year is now at 4641.)
In honor of Labor Day, we’re doing what Americans do today – not laboring!
TW@L and HHH will be back next Monday as we press on through the late summer heat!
Stay cool and be careful. See you next week!
(The intake for the year is now at 4641.)
Hear ye, hear ye….We are in search of an electrical warming plate…the kind that has a glass top, not open burners and not tea lights powered…electrically powered that heats up to 90-102 degrees (temp control to these limits is essential). We use this nifty piece of “high tech” equipment in our orphan care area. Unfortunately, before the end of the season our old one died.
I am betting that someone out there has a vintage (or not) warming plate that is sitting in an attic, garage, or pantry just waiting for a new use…warming food for voracious baby bird mouths.
And if you don’t have one yourself, perhaps you have seen one in a re-sale store, at your aunt’s house or at a garage sale. Help us replace this piece of valuable equipment to allow us to make it through to the end of this year’s very busy orphan care season. You can call 480-998-5550 and leave a message, e mail me at email@example.com or leave a comment on this blog.
Now go out to your garage or storage room and retrieve that unused-in-years warming tray to donate to a new use and a great cause.
And one more reminder…don’t forget to buy your ticket to the Diamondback’s game, August 31 (at 1:10) with the Colorado Rockies. It will be a cool way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Liberty Wildlife will be recognized on the Jumbotron during the third inning. It would be great to see you there and hear you cheer for Liberty Wildlife as well as the Diamondbacks. Our education ambassadors will be there to greet the guests as they come in…spreading a lot of education about other native wildlife besides diamondbacks.
Maybe Baxter will wander over to check out the competition. I hope so.
The intake total for the year is now at 4567. Released on 08/21: 4 Black-crowned night herons, 12 grackles, 9 ducks, 1 mockingbird, 1 curved-bill thrasher, and 84 misc. doves.
Last Tuesday was not only “Vet Night” at Liberty, it was also the day the big storm hit. As the deluge raged outside, birds and mammals were treated inside – after our desert tortoises were rescued from the rising water! An unfortunate little fox was brought in and examined thanks to R&T volunteer Tony Sola. Earlier in the week we got in a very rare visitor (so rare infact, Troy Corman had to verify it’s species), and the GHO that was impaled on a car bumper last week makes some remarkable improvement….
The fast-growing moorhen (which was named “Marilyn” by the volunteers in Orphan Care) has graduated to an outside enclosure during the day. She is enjoying the sun and open air – when it’s NOT pouring rain!
One of the several black-crowned night herons in our care has had some foot and leg issues. In an effort to keep him improving, some special “shoes” were fashioned for him last week which should help alleviate his foot and leg problems.
The young great horned owl that was hit by a car and carried on the bumper for an undetermined distance continues to improve. His fractured leg and broken wing are still mending, but his head trauma is much improved and his prognosis is better than it was upon his initial assessment.
A little barn owl came in with an injured wing last week. Normally I throw in the term ‘little’ as a standard adjective for birds and animals but with this bird, when I say little, I mean LITTLE! Everyone who saw this bird was struck by his diminutive stature and we all hope his injuries heal so he can rejoin the wild population as soon as possible.
Recently someone up in Gila County near Payson found a strange white and black bird. Luckily, this person has a biology background and knew what he had found. It was a red-billed tropicbird, the first one ever recorded in Gila County! A call was made and the bird was brought to Liberty for examination and eventual transport back to it’s normal range along the Pacific coast from California south along the Baja and south along the coast of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez. Next week, I will put the bird on a US Airways/American flight to San Diego where Sea World will complete his release.
Just prior to the arrival of the big monsoon, Tony brought in a small female fox from the west side. Presenting conflicting symptoms, she was anesthetized and examined by Jan and Dr. Wyman for any obvious trauma. No real damage was found and blood was drawn for testing. After she recovered from the anesthesia, she was replaced into her carrier to keep her quarantined from other animals pending the results of the blood tests. Then next morning her condition had deteriorated and sadly, she eventually died peacefully before any further treatment was administered. The blood tests all came back negative for any of the expected diseases and we now suspect that she had been poisoned.
At least once each monsoon, the Phoenix area makes the national news with a bad storm and this year’s edition was last week. Just after noon on Tuesday, the sky opened up and a torrent of rain came down flooding many areas of the valley including the Liberty facility. The good news is, we needed the rain and no injuries were sustained – although Jan and Susie had to run out and bring in the desert tortoises who were cornered by rising water in the compound. Within an hour or so, the water levels began to drop at least at Liberty, although several volunteers had a hard time getting to and from their homes dues to flash flooding of some local washes.
Recently I have noticed a plethora of large hulking lizards. It seems like the rocks have burped up spiny lizards everywhere. In the past if I saw one or two in the summer it was memorable. For some reason, unknown to me, I am seeing them everywhere. We even had one brought in to Liberty after being stepped on by a horse. There’s a testament to the size…it survived the assault.
They are a very pretty if sullen looking reptile. Both the males and females sport a noticeable black collar under or around the neck. The males are easy to notice with the psychedelic splash of turquoise, green, blue scales on the ventral side with a gray to tannish topside. The females, equally impressive in bulk and sulk have a tendency to an orange-ish head in breading season. If you look closely both have a splash of yellow scales on their sides….
Spiny lizards are found throughout the southwest, mainly on the ground and most often in a rocky substrate. They lay 4-24 eggs in the summer that take 60-75 days to hatch. Like many lizards they are metachromatic which means they change colors related to the ambient temperature…with a darker tint to absorb sun/heat in the cooler times and lighter color to reflect the sun/heat. They live on small insects, small lizards and small plants.
I am wondering if the supply of food has something to do with the plentitude of spiny lizards that I am seeing…which brings me to the lizard I miss the most…the regal horned lizard. I used to see them all of the time.
They look like fierce little dinosaurs. They have a frowny face with these wicked looking horns on their heads. They are about the size and shape of a man’s palm with a tail…and lots of nasty looking spikes covering the body.
While they have the same basic characteristics of other lizards their defense is the one that most appeals to me. They spit blood out of their eyes…you have to admit that is one cool defense. (Don’t you kind of wish you could do that every once in a while?) It must have a nasty flavor to a predator or just be surprising as heck! If that doesn’t work they suck in a lot of air and puff out their bodies and using appropriate motions try to stab and scrap the predator with their pointy, nasty horns. Nature is so cool.
Their scarcity is probably because their favorite food, harvester ants (eating 2500 at one meal) is one of the first “pests” homeowners remove from their property when they move in from somewhere else. At 2500 ants a meal, it would seem to me that to have a bunch of “horny toads” around would be much more fun and entertaining and way better for the environment than toxic pesticides.
I wish I could see a plethora of “horny toads” from now on.
The intake total for the year is 4440. Released of 08/14/2014: 62 misc. doves, 31 quail, 6 Gila woodpeckers, 3 curved bill thrashers, 1 gilded flicker, 1 cactus wren, 1 mockingbird, 1 misc.LBB
This week will be the first herpetological H3 and TW@L in which we present examples of animals mostly within the Testudines (turtles, and tortoises) and Squamata (snakes and lizards) suborders that have come into some kind of close contact with Liberty. The one exception is the GHO that come into close contact with a car bumper and subsequently arrived for treatment. Let’s take a look at these interesting ectotherms who got injured in their unfortunate confrontations with humanity…
The red eared slider that had been run over by a car was surgically repaired by Dr. Todd Driggers recently. The turtle came in with large pieces of her shell broken and hanging out, exposing several internal organs including a lung. Dr. Driggers patched most of the shell with resin and reinforcing fiber to hold it together while the lengthy healing process goes on. In the meantime, a special bandage keeps medicine in and infection out while the unfortunate animal continuous it’s battle to survive. Although no creature is turned away from Liberty Wildlife, some are never released, notably non-native species such as former pets like turtles. They are placed with permanent care-givers or placed in closed environments preventing their escape into the wild.
Just as the slider starts her treatment, a native desert tortoise arrived with a suspicious hole in it’s shell. The investigation is ongoing, but since the wound is so localized, symmetrical, and without much collateral damage, it appears it could have been caused by a hammer. In any case, this little native Arizonan also made the trip to Dr. Driggers in Gilbert for another surgical procedure to repair the damage to the carapace. Since desert tortoises that spend any appreciable time in the custody of humans are no longer releasable and must be adopted, this one is another candidate for long-term care before placement in a permanently sequestered habitat.
A week ago on Saturday, R&T volunteer Shane Crabtree and his son went out to retrieve a juvenile great horned owl from the grill of someone’s car. The owners must have hit it the night before and thought it was dead. Amazingly, he survived the collision, the subsequent drive home, and the night impaled on the bumper and grill. He has a broken wing, a fractured leg, and a head injury of unknown severity. All of this is believed to be repairable – if he survives the head trauma. The next day he appeared much improved and is now being treated for the multiple injuries, including some eye problems caused by the impact to his head. We’ll keep you posted.
Things are happening at the Rio Salado. Elwood Street is under construction and that means that the water and dry utilities are soon to be a part of the landscape. Engineers have been drilling more holes….testing the dynamic compaction of the ground under our footprint now that it has been “painted” out and a string border has been strung.
I spent last Wednesday early morning walking through the building…no, there are no walls, no windows, no flight enclosures, no water catchment system, no solar panels on the roof, no furniture…that is all yet to come. But with a little imagination, you, too, could walk in the hospital or the children’s interactive room. You could stand on the overlook and imagine the wetlands.
What is there now is the potential view of Piestawa Peak nestled in the opening of the wall facing the river. The view of downtown sparkles to the west. Camelback Mountain is silhouetted to the east and South Mountain towers from the front door.
At the river pond where the beaver makes his home early morning brought the croaks of frogs, the waking utterances of the wild birds that inhabit the reedy shore line and the splashes of the grebe who floated on the water. The osprey flew overhead and the egret took off as I approached. It was a magical moment.
I want to encourage all of you to get involved in some way in our relocation. There is still time for you to grab a naming opportunity for yourself, a loved one, a family….anyone in love with our mission and our 34 years of work. There will be opportunities to have a brick with your name on it, or the name of someone you are honoring, that will line the path that winds through the education enclosures. Benches, landscaping options, butterfly, dragonfly and pollinator gardens will be wonderful opportunities for you to be a permanent part of a great thing!
Ask how you can be a part of helping to fulfill our mission and a part of creating magic.
The intake total for this year is now at 4352. Released on Aug.07: 8 misc. doves, 1 finch, 22 quail, 2 black-crowned night heron, 2 various LBBs.
The monsoon and the temps backed off slightly this week – I’m only talking about 3 or 4 degrees here – but this year we haven’t had any major A/C failures to deal with (although I have had my own problems repairing the large owl flight enclosure. Those tetanus shots HURT!) Last Monday Tim and I drove to Lake Havasu City to acquire and transport a donation of Trex lumber – a 500 mile round trip made possible by a donation from U-Haul who provided a 20ft. truck to move the material. Also last week, two nighthawk eggs hatched and the hatchlings are now being cared for. Plus some other interesting arrivals and rehabs in progress. Here we go…
This is the Trex lumber that Brad Gruenwald (Gina’s brother) donated for Liberty’s use and the wonderful young lady at U-Haul in Lake Havasu City who worked out the details of the truck. As our structures have to withstand the unrelentingly harsh conditions in Arizona, this material is perfect for our use in the new facility. Because of the weight and since it was located in Lake Havasu City, Joanne Fried and Ashleigh Wagner of U-Haul Corporate arranged to donate a one-way truck to move the material to Scottsdale. Debra Gonzales at their LHC office helped us with the check-in. Liberty (and all the animals that will make use of the structures built from this lumber) thank Brad, Debra, Joanne and Ashleigh for making it possible! U-Haul rocks!!!
Our ‘Ace’ R&T volunteer Carl Price brought in, among others, a barn owl with a badly injured wing. Laura and Jan performed the initial exam and wrap as the bird was given fluids and allowed to begin de-stressing in a brooder in the ICU. First-rate treatment applied quickly is what helps us maintain our high release rate, even with serious injuries like this.
Not long ago, we got in two nighthawk eggs from an SRP equipment storage yard in Tempe. Some equipment was moved which spooked the mom off the nest and when she didn’t come back, Liberty was called. Nina went and collected the eggs and brought them in to spend a couple weeks in our super-whizbang-high-tech incubator. One of them eventually hatched, and in quick succession, the second one opened to the world as well! These two tiny little caprimulgiformes (the order gets its name from the Latin for “goat-sucker”, an old name based on an erroneous view of the European nightjar’s feeding habits) will be hand fed for some time as they are normally parent fed or eat on the wing when they are capable of flight.
Ten minutes after I left last Tuesday, R&T volunteer Ted Schlueter brought in a GHO from out east. It seems the bird had been flying low – low enough to snag a wing on a barbed wire fence. We’ve seen this before and it’s never pretty. The trick is to get the bird cut out of the wire before he does much greater damage by trying to extricate himself. The ultimate prognosis is unclear and will depend on the extent of the structural damage to the wing and patagium. (check out Animal Planet – “Animal Cops: Phoenix” 2009 Episode 1)
I have just returned from a wonderful happening. At the last Wishes for Wildlife my brother bought the Verde Canyon Rail Road “Caboose” that was generously donated by the rail road for our auction. He was moved to do this to of course support our mission but mostly to celebrate Will’s, his grandson, my great nephew, remission from leukemia. While he was being treated at the Texas Children’s Hospital he fell in love with the trains in the “train room” provided to ease the horrors of treatment for these very young children. Planning has been extensive to get everyone here to make the trip, and it was worth every second.
I must say, that the folks at the railroad, Robyn Brein, General Manager, and all of her people couldn’t have been more wonderful. They made the trip memorable from the moment we arrived….all in the same t shirt design…penned by none other than Joe Miller and orchestrated by Terry Stevens…that is another story. Our caboose experience was peppered with history, nature facts pertinent to the valley and the river by Fermin who served us wonderful food and drink and made sure we didn’t miss a thing….catering especially to Will who was at times, very rare times, speechless. The trip through the tunnel was over the moon!
And, coincidentally, OR NOT, we happened to be on the train the very same time that Joe, Jan, Claudia and their special friend, Sonora….all rock stars of Liberty Wildlife, wowed the train riders with Sonora and her story. I had the pleasure of standing back and looking at the presentation as a “fly on the wall”. I can’t express in words the depth of awe that I witnessed in every person there. Cameras flashed, people moved orderly in place to have a photo taken in the presence of this team of educators, especially Sonora….a true honor for all. As the train went around curves we could see the open cars with the attendees enraptured by the likes of a stunning bald eagle and handlers that know the story….tell the story…present the star….leave a memorable impression that was still talked about as they left the train.
I have ridden the train before. It is different every time. You are privy to the whims of nature on a given day, season, year so each ride is unique and priceless. If you are lucky enough to have Liberty’s team there you have scored a run. But, if you are as lucky as I was to have my family and the exuberance of a young fighter, it is a grand slam.
My special thanks to Linda and Dave Durbano for bringing the train back, to the folks at the Verde Canyon Rail Road for their kindness and consideration, to Joe, Jan and Claudia for their special attentions and to my family for making this so special.
The intake total for the year is now at 4245. Released on July 31: 1 mockingbird, 1 curved bill thrasher, 5 Say’s phoebe, 12 gila woodpeckers, 1 cowbird, 1 grackle, 1 cactus wren, 58 misc. doves, 27 quail and several misc.waterfowl.
It would appear that the rate of arrivals may have peaked and is ever-so-slowly backing off. We have reached the stage where we now are beginning to see this year’s crop of juveniles making their “life lesson” mistakes and showing up as injured animals. That’s not to say the Orphan Care area isn’t still logging in several babies and kids each day, but the trend is heading in the right way, finally. Releases are up (including our mammal family!), the Ed team attends the Southwest Wings show again, and we get a visit from our architects and builders. Here’s what it looked like…
So, although the arrival of orphans might have slowed a bit, the bunnies still seem to be multiplying – go figure! Our success rate with all the lagomorphs that we saw this year was encouraging in spite of the fragility of these little creatures. Hopefully that will continue in years to come, allowing us to keep working all ends of the Arizona food chain.
Marilyn, the little orphan moorhen that is the darling of the OC team, is still growing fast and strong. She is beginning to grow her first year plumage and is even doing some adult behavior (tail twitching?). Look for a video of her lily pad walk in an upcoming TW@L.
A young cooper’s hawk arrived this week presenting head trauma from a collision with a fence. As I’ve reported many times before, this is not an uncommon injury with accipiters. They chase other birds which are their main prey and in the hunt, they become single-minded and tunnel visioned leading to collisions with immovable objects. This bird will go to the eye clinic this week for more evaluation.
I gave two birds a ride up from Tucson this week, both from the San Pedro – Sierra Vista area via the efforts of our good friend Christy van Cleve. A raven was in the custody of an individual for a protracted period and had a suspected respiratory infection while the barn owl was very thin and emaciated. Both birds are responding to treatment and are still candidates for release down the road.
After several weeks of careful monitoring and feeding following the birth of four young babies at our facility, the raccoon family is finally free. Taken to an undisclosed location early in the week, the four healthy youngsters and their mom were allowed to return to the wild to face whatever the world has to offer them. Good luck to them in their journeys!
Some people from Oakland Construction and Weddle Gilmore came by Liberty on Tuesday to get a first hand look at what we do and how we do it. This is to help guide them as they prepare plans for the our new facility. We’re looking forward to working with them as they embark on an ambitious schedule to get us into our new home.
Story by Craig Fischer: Liberty Wildlife education team members Donna Jabara and Craig Fischer spent this past weekend at the Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival in Sierra Vista. For two people, one bird and many Liberty Med Services, Daily Care and Education volunteers, this event was a very special two years in the making.
At the 2012 festival, Liberty volunteers were asked if they could assist with treatment for an injured burrowing owl. Jason Greff, a wildlife officer at San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge in far southeastern Arizona, was driving to the Douglas, Arizona, office when he spotted a burrowing owl on the roadside. When the normally skittish owl did not fly off as he approached, he realized that something may be wrong. He collected the little owl in a cardboard box and brought it to the office where it was handed to Amanda Terry, a wildlife intern who would be manning the refuge booth at Southwest Wings that day, and was asked to hand the owl to Liberty Wildlife to see if it could be helped.
At the show, Liberty volunteers Anne Peyton and Linda Scott received the bird and jumped into action with the help from Christy van Cleve, a local wildlife rehab specialist. The trio realized the owl had a severe head trauma around her right eye, possibly from an automobile collision. They administered fluids and placed the bird in a dark quiet space during the day. The following day the owl was transported to Liberty Wildlife and admitted to the ICU. It took several weeks for the trauma and concussion symptoms to dissipate, but she was soon showing signs of quick improvement.
Jump forward two years and Frida is now one of our avian ambassadors. She returned to Southwest Wings and had the opportunity to visit with her rescuer Jason and “doctor” Christie, and to endear herself to the more than 750 visitors to the show’s exhibition area. Many exhibitors also took the time to visit with Frida and Donna as they remembered being there when the injured owl was brought in and very few gave her a chance of surviving the injury.
On behalf of Frida, thank you to everyone who played a part in Frida’s story and successful transition to a new career.
Don’t forget to purchase your Diamondback tickets!!!
From the get-go I am reminding you to buy your tickets to the afternoon August 31st Diamondback’s game and support Liberty Wildlife. You can do it all on line and the prices range so that you can decide how much support you will be pitching our way. Follow the link below, pick your seats, and take your mitt….I do hope to see you there! Go D’Backs!
Now, on to other things….if you remember a few blogs ago we mentioned the fledgling bald eagle that was summarily tossed to the ground when a wind obliterated her nest. She plummeted to the ground while her nest mate clung to the tree and managed to stay out of harm’s way.
She was brought in to us by Game and Fish to evaluate her condition as a result of the wind driven ‘accident’. When it was determined that she was not damaged, but was badly dehydrated and thin we took care of business and got her quickly ready to go back to the nest tree. The parents were still around tending to the nest mate, so getting her quickly back to her family was imperative.
Then, she went down again! Winds can be a bear! Nest watchers alerted us to the situation, and she was returned to our tending. Repeating the process, as nothing else was wrong with her, she was quickly returned to her natal situation. The nest mate and parents were still around and things settled back in preparation for a natural fledging.
The really good news in this story is that we received word last week that she had finally fledged successfully and like all normal bald eagles in Arizona do, she has taken off for the northwest. If you remember a few years ago we had a young eagle that fishermen had been feeding….not a good situation. He was rescued by John Glitsos and given the moniker of “Little John” by those who had been watching him. After successful rehabilitation, Little John dutifully trekked in short order to Oregon to fatten up on easy catches and then successfully migrated back in the fall. He stayed here for a season hanging out with other bachelor eagles looking for a mate and a territory and then traveled back again to the northwest (the wonders of telemetry).
It is our great hope that the Greer female who actually fledged before her sibling will make a safe trek to the northwest and return in the mood for a mate….maybe it would be Little John…a match made in heaven, I am sure.
Wish them all luck!
Now, go buy your Diamondback tickets….I have bought mine, and I don’t want to be there alone!!! www.libertywildlife.org, How can I help?/ Link to our friends….Easy, easy, easy!
The intake total for the year is now at 4070.
Released on 07/24: 5 grackles, 6 inca doves, 27 white wing doves, 16 mourning doves, 8 misc. LBBs.
The heat and humidity are oppressive, as is usual for this time of year. Trying to keep up with frozen A/C units and holes in the enclosures keep me busy as the OC Volunteers keeping up with feeding all the little mouths that require constant attention. The Med Services team has had a slight drop in the level of arrivals needing urgent care, and the Daily Care folks are just trying to keep from dropping from the heat and dehydration. I think this is what they call “grinding it out” as the summer and the monsoon drags on. (Luckily, the official microburst hit 3 miles away last Saturday!) We’re all just trying to make it through until the new facility is a reality…
The orphan raptors are still arriving, though at a slower rate. This young sharp-shinned hawk is a new patient and will be evaluated for injury/illness before joining the rest of the orphans of his type in an outside enclosure.
One of the staples of the Baby Bird Season is the orphan mockingbird. They are cute,but they almost always look like they are angry at the world. But, hopefully, he’ll be released to make beautiful music in the wild soon!
“Marilyn Moorhen,” the new darling of the OC area, is still growing and maybe someday will grow into her feet! A great example of adaptive evolution, this bird is a type of water bird that walks on water (well, actually, walks on lily pads and fronds of water plants.) The large feet and toes allows her to spread her weight over floating foliage she walks enabling her to search for food on ponds and lakes. The latin name means “little hen.”
Just so you don’t think the raptors are not still coming through our doors, we do get orphaned and injured kestrels, red-tails, and harris’ hawks in this time of year. The hawk above has a leg injury which, for a bird making it’s living by killing with its feet is a major problem. This type of splint allows the bird to stand without putting pressure on the broken leg bone.
As the latest crop of GHO orphans gets to the live-feed stage, the 60ft flight enclosure fills up with young owls. The birds here are getting practice hunting, self-feeding, and flying as the “graduation day” approaches!
Recently, our star gopher snake Yang was having his enclosure cleaned. While the door was open, he decided to go on walkabout and see what was in the next room. Of course, touring isn’t easy when you live on the second floor, and before he found any potential food, he was returned to his own room and fed well with his normal nutritious diet.
The raccoon family is still with us, although the time for relocation is fast approaching. With Sharon, Nina, and the other volunteers putting together a delicious smorgasbord of treats for them daily, the kids are growing fast and strong and will soon be released along with their mom.
And while we’re on the subject of gopher snakes, I got this shot of one of our newest education gopher snakes as he was starting a great yawn in his enclosure. I honestly didn’t know a snake could be bored, but I guess it’s possible!
As clean as we work to keep the facility, when the temperature rises, so does the fly population. Several traps dot the Liberty landscape and the latest versions allow us to then harvest the trapped flies to feed our insect eating orphans. Some of the little critters are not so little – getting to be as big as baby hummingbirds!
I’ve been saving this shot for a few weeks. This is the feeding station out front where the eagles (and other larger birds are hand fed each day). On this morning, two local doves thought they’d land on the feeding perch and possibly get a free meal!
As of last week, some surveyors were out at our river property, putting up flags to outline the structures on the plan. Elwood road is progressing with utilities being installed at this stage. Next step will be paving the road which will allow construction equipment access to begin the building process.
Here’s another way to have a great time and help out Liberty Wildlife…a win-win for everyone…except hopefully the Colorado Rockies (sorry Rockies fans). In conjunction with Resource Center Italiano (RCI), Liberty Wildlife will have a booth on the concourse for the Sunday afternoon game on August 31st. We have tickets to sell which will result in funding for Liberty’s mission.
If you are going to be in town Labor Day weekend and want to have fun supporting Liberty Wildlife, RCI and the Diamondbacks go to the link below and buy a ticket. There are several prices for a variety of seating choices…and come to see us at the game.
Click on the image below and enter the promo code: LIBERTY
*No returns, refunds, exchanges or upgrades on any tickets. All tickets based on availability.
For any accessible seating or groups of 10 or larger, please contact your D-backs Rep Daniel Ingold
at (602) 462-4226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Five Simple Steps to Order your D-backs Tickets:
The intake total for the year is now at 3845.
Released on July 17: 6 cottontails, 39 doves (various), 4 curved-bill thrashers, 2 Say’s phoebes, 3 finches.
Believe it or not, last week the pace of intakes slowed a bit, possibly because it was so hot very few people ventured outside and fewer interactions between humans and wildlife occurred. In any case, it was good to take a breath from the non-stop activity of the previous few months since we have now taken in 111 more animals than the entire total for last year. Even though it was really hot in the Valley, a few members of the Education Team did our first “Reptiles on the Railroad” program for the Verde Canyon Rail Road recently. We also got to see the arrival of one species that had never before showed up at our facility (see below) and as she made a quick (2 hours!) pass through before she was released, I was lucky to be able to record it. We are starting a promotion with the Arizona Diamondbacks (see HHH above) so help us if you can!
Even with Liberty Wildlife on the Rio Salado moving towards fruition, we are still improving the existing facility for the near term. Several modular structures to be used for eagle housing are nearing completion on the east side of the campus and it looks great! Joe Miller is doing an outstanding job with the help of a couple of other skilled volunteers and it’s a place of which we can all be proud.
Normally the Education Season is officially closed for the summer due to excessive heat. But recently a few of our Ed Team members did a program up at the depot for the Verde Canyon Rail Road with all reptiles. Since the are active in the heat, there was no danger for the animals, especially the desert tortoises who seemed to enjoy interacting with the kids. A small temporary enclosure was set up on the grass in a shady spot and the children were able to watch them up close as they roamed freely in the pens. They also got to see and touch the snakes letting them see how cool and beneficial they are.
This beautiful spiny lizard arrived last week presenting an injured tail…well, actually, a missing tail! It seems he was stepped on by a horse. Luckily the rider saw the accident transpire and rescued the little guy and brought him to us for treatment. He’ll be released soon and should be none the worse for wear.
OK, we’ve all been there (or at least those of us who have been doing rescues for 20+ years.) ”There’s a bird trapped in the storm drain! You can hear it!” goes the call. John Glitsos and Balinda Fortman got that call last week. I’ll let them tell the story:
Balinda and I got a rescue call for a “bird stuck in a storm drain” this afternoon.
Scottsdale Police and Fire had just left when we got there. The caller was saying, “they just want to get back to the station! They said its a frog just to get out of here!” She was absolutely certain that what she heard 75 feet away in the storm drain was a bird.
So, four people to pry up the grate, and one idiot to crawl down the drain pipe on hands and knees, for over 45 minutes (one way) through spider webs, sludge, mosquitoes, and floating cigars (please don’t correct me, I am positive those were cigars)… and what do we discover?
I had to pass him and go to the far grate to turn around (the pipe was only about 24 inches in diameter) so I took this picture with my cell camera on the way back out… Thank goodness the light at the end of the tunnel is, in fact, the light at the end of the tunnel!!
By the way, we told the frog to carry on, not feeling the need to rescue him. In fact, he probably should have rescued us from ourselves! (Balinda said I should have mentioned the bloody hands (the grate fell on my hand) and the cut up knees from the gravel on the bottom of the sludge…. I disagree! Then you will think I am a genuine idiot – not just a pretend idiot!!!) The Shawshank Redemption comes to mind… “Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy!” ( extra points for anyone who remembers where THAT came from!)
Last Tuesday Carl Price brought in a fairly small but very rare visitor to Liberty Wildlife – a female beaver! It seems the police found her wandering through a parking lot on the south end of Scottsdale not appearing to be navigating well with no water in sight. Carl got her into his carrier and brought her in where she was assessed and determined to be free from injury – just lost. We put her into another carrier and I drove her back to an appropriate site (classified for her safety) and let her go. Then trail of happy bubbles as she swam away under the surface of the water made me smile after the muscle-straining task of holding her for the exam!
Work on Elwood Street is progressing as the utilities are now being installed along the road. Our new address, 2600 East Elwood Street, is moving forward! In the next couple of months, we’ll have maps and instructions on the easiest ways to access the new facility from any direction. Stay tuned!
I have been begging the monsoon thunderstorms to come gently to my yard…to no avail. In that yearning I began to read about the history of monsoons in the valley. I learned some interesting things.
I learned that using the word monsoon to describe the rains was a meteorological no no. It comes from the Arabic word “mausim” meaning “a season”. The onset of the season was originally determined by the occurrence of three consecutive days of dew points above 55 degrees, but recently the arbitrary date of June 15 was assigned as the beginning of the monsoon with the official ending being September 30th.
The retreating of the jet stream to the north appears to allow the movements of low pressure systems into our desert. Apparently scientists aren’t totally sure if the moisture that accompanies this wind comes totally from the Gulf of Mexico or the Gulf of California or is a mixture of both. Much research is being done to determine this. What I do know is that it usually results in the influx of first year pelicans into our desert. The immature birds seem to get wafted up into these winds and aren’t experienced enough fliers to escape before they are plummeted into the desert….often on a road or parking lot that might look just like water from where they are aerially speaking. Once down in the desert, the difficulties of the turf make it almost impossible for them to return home without a little help. We end up with many of them that we stabilize and fly to the coast by our very experienced winged partners at US Airways/American Airlines….our pelican pipeline for many years.
With this intense atmospheric destabilization comes thunderstorms, but also a great deal of dust and wind making the conditions challenging. Flooded washes can provide a very dangerous situation for anyone trapped or silly enough to enter them…just stay away. The winds tear down trees, tip over cars or trailers, rip off roofs, or trade yard detritus with neighbors. The dust is just plain nasty, insinuating itself in your pool, fountains, and the cracks in structures…all to be dealt with when the winds and rains recede. Grrrrrrrrrrr!
In our valley, Arizona’s “second spring” is great at turning things verdant providing food for wildlife and water for spade foot toads to start their life cycles, but it doesn’t do all that much for our ongoing drought. The water comes fast and furiously and runs off just as quickly. With the intense heat the water readily evaporates, and transpiration in plant use results in little storage that is needed to lessen the drought. We do usually get one third of our yearly average of rainfall during the monsoon. The wettest monsoon was in 1984 where we saw 9.38 inches of rain and the paltriest occurred in 1924 with only a meager 0.35 inches.
Unfortunately I have had no monsoon thunderstorms at my house so far. It might have something to do with living in the shadow of the mountain… a phenomena for another blog….but right now I have decided to take the big step in luring rains to my yard….I am going to wash my car….works every time!
The intake total for the year is now at 3629.
Non-raptors released on 7/10/2014: 41 doves, 3 ducks, 37 quail, 7 rabbits, 2 great blue herons, 10 black-crowned night herons, 5 geese.
As we close in on surpassing last year’s total intakes, the monsoon is picking up steam. A large storm yesterday led to several arrivals which will be covered next week. In the meantime, projects are taking shape and animals keep coming in, some small, some injured, and some unusual. Plus we get a new crop of people interested in joining the ranks of Liberty volunteers! Let’s see what happened recently…
Although the message on our hotline states clearly that we do NOT take in dogs, cats, or other pets or domestic animals, last week somebody dumped this not-yet-weaned kitten on our intake counter. The box was just left near the window with no note or notice of what was inside. Luckily one of the volunteers saw it before the temperature climbed into the 100+ range. I suggested calling him “Bob” so we could say we got in a “bobcat” but before the day was out, a volunteer had adopted him and he went to a welcoming home. People, we are NOT the Humane Society or the Animal Welfare League. These groups do a wonderful job caring for unwanted pets and are set up for taking them in. Liberty is only chartered to aid native Arizona wildlife. PASS THE WORD!
And while we ‘re on the subject of pets, we were the recipients this turtle last week. I am told this is an ornate box turtle but if anybody has a more definitive ID, post a comment and let me know. A non-native to Arizona, the box turtle is an inappropriate pet under any circumstances. They require very specific care and are susceptible to a wide range of environmental hazard in terms of habitat and dietary requirements. Before you acquire a “pet,” do some research into what species make good companion animals and what they will require in terms of care and feeding…
The routine intakes – meaning native species – continued as well as this baby jack rabbit joined our collection of orphaned cottontails and other small mammals. The small yellow-streaked Townsend’s warbler is one of several migratory warblers that pass through periodically on their way south or north, depending on the season. GHOs come to us all year and last week one of our newly trained R&T volunteers went out to rescue one in a local backyard abutting a preserve. And kestrels also seem to come in all year and the monsoon usually brings in several “orphans of the storm” requiring fostering at Liberty.
Quail arrive by the hundreds and even this late in the season, we get in eggs and babies. Though they are some of the most plentiful arrivals, they are also among the cutest patients in the Orphan Care area.
The arrival of a baby gallinule (or Moorhen) caused a lot of interest from the volunteers. In the rail family, this strange looking little bird will grow up to look somewhat like a coot and will be released into an appropriate habitat when the time comes. Until then, he is being fed in the OC area and is amazing the volunteers with his strange “claw-like” wings, gangly feet, and interesting coloration.
As the year rolls on, we are continually recruiting new volunteers for all the critical areas of the operation. Since the busiest time of year coincides with people taking vacations, a deep “bench” is always a necessity. Volunteer Coordinator Carol Suits presents the orientation information and a brief tour of the facility so people can decide what they might like to do for us.
This picture might be somewhat misleading. This little (just a few inches long) night snake was another victim of a glue trap somebody set out to catch – who knows what. The problem, as always, is that these traps are non-species specific in their targeting and snare any animal that happens to come in contact with it. Fortunately, this little snake was rescued, removed from the sticky trap, and released back into this normal habitat.
And for the “Cutest picture of the week” category, Claudia sent this in. She took this in the screech owl enclosure showing the “two-by-two” nature of these social little owls . The pairs seem to get along fine with no encouragement from the volunteers. All they seem to need is the proper amount of space and a good supply of food.
I can’t count the number of times, over the past nine years, that Megan Mosby and I have locked horns over this issue. But since she is taking the holiday weekend off, this is my chance to have her readers decide the issue once and for all!
Megan regularly annoys me by saying, “Thank you!” for something I have done at Liberty Wildlife. My answer is always the same, “I get more out of Liberty than Liberty will ever get out of me!”
To prove my point, I asked some other volunteers at Liberty, “Why are you here?” Putting this question in context, picture a 61-year-old lady, gutting hawk food (don’t ask) for four hours on a 110-degree day. Or a petite young lady armed with tweezers delicately feeding live crickets and meal worms to a baby nighthawk. Or a group of Education Volunteers driving 8 hours roundtrip to spend 1 hour with a group of students who have never seen an owl. Or a rescue volunteer who, on her first rescue call, sees a bird stuck high in a tree. Instead of shrugging and going home, she heads over to Home Depot and rents a cherry picker to make the rescue. These people are crazy dedicated. Why? What are they getting out of it?
The consensus of the Volunteers I talked to was their reason had evolved over time, just like mine. Let me explain….
I’m reluctant to admit that my initial interest was the thrill of rescuing injured raptors from trees, building ledges, and cliffs. I felt like an instant hit at parties, trumping golf games and movies seen, with my tales of dangerous wildlife rescues.
Other popular themes – loving animals in general, and birds in particular, or “giving back” to the community, or getting away from technology, or getting closer to nature – all resonated for me, but weren’t entirely it.
Before long, I began to realize the impact my work was having on people, not just animals. Good people. People who care enough to call the Liberty Hotline, and wait until a Rescue Volunteer arrives. I learned that, to these people, I personified a way to help a helpless yet beautiful creature survive. They considered me, as a Liberty person, to be an expert, and asked me, “What species is she? Will she make it? What could we have done to prevent that?” The more they asked, the more I strived to learn. Soon I was feeling tremendous pride in being the “expert” on the scene.
From there, I added Education to my list of Volunteer roles. The classes for certification and the time required to check off on each education species and animal humbled me, as I learned more, yet realized how much more there was to learn.
This work required spending a huge amount of time with other Volunteers, and I found a common thread, the love of animals, and a compassion for nature and other human beings that is unsurpassed by any group of people I have ever met. When a personal tragedy nearly crushed me in early 2013, it was another Liberty person who brought me food to eat and arranged for a dozen Volunteers to come and pack my belongings so I could quickly (in 2 days) move to new surroundings. And none of them ever asked for anything in return.
Around the same time, I came to realize how much Liberty was adding to my life. I was doing things every week that few people will ever experience. Imagine a majestic bald eagle stepping willingly onto your arm, and taking her food from your hand!
And then, the most important realization of all. It happened when I turned my attention away from me, and toward the audiences that we encounter. These are the moments that I will never forget.
Every year I take a peregrine falcon to a neurological rehab facility where young people are struggling with life-altering head injuries. After one of these programs, a mom came up and said, “Hearing how Maverick [the falcon] has a new job educating people, since his injury took away his ability to fly 270 miles per hour, touched my son. He was a star athlete before, and lost hope. Today he realized that he can have a productive and amazing life doing different things! Thank you!
Or the third-grade program where a mom was sitting on the floor next to her blind son, describing the animals to him during our presentation. My fellow educator, Max, realized what was happening and took Phoenix, our wonderful golden eagle, to where they were sitting. He had Phoenix flap his enormous wings. That little boy will never, ever, forget the wind from the eagle’s powerful wings blowing through his hair. And I will never, ever, forget the expression of joy on his face.
So when Megan says, “Thank you, John, for all you do,” I will continue to tell her that my experiences, my friends, my pride in our work and people, and my feelings of absolute joy, are all the thanks I will ever need. Case closed.
P.S. Megan, thank you for all you do!
This Week at Liberty
The intake total for the year is now at 3458.
Non-raptors released on 7-03-2014: 10 doves (various species), 2 mockingbirds, 1 flicker, 1 woodpecker, 1 curved-bill thrasher, 6 LBB’s (various species)
We sailed through the 4th of July with a steady stream of intakes including a couple of bats and some additional orphans of varying species. One of our recent bald eagle intakes got some attention from Jan and Kyle from AZGFD prior to his impending freedom, and a couple of kestrels got released by some really nice folks in Scottsdale. Then there was the 4th of July parade where we met a new friend and neighbor! Have a look…
Bats suffer from a bad image, especially here in Arizona. It is true that they are number one on the rabies vector species list, but that may be somewhat misleading. Just remember if you find a bat doing anything out of the ordinary, you need to do three things: 1) DON’T touch it 2) Call the Liberty Wildlife hotline, and 3) DON’T EVER TOUCH IT! Just for the safety of yourself – and the bat (bats that have been touched are required to be euthanized). There are close to 1,000 species of bats – almost 1/4 of all mammals on Earth, and are absolutely necessary to the environment. This little pipistrelle probably just didn’t make it home when the sun came up and was hiding close to an apartment with kids playing all around. Rebecca is our bat expert and took this little guy for observation and any treatment required.
The orphans keep coming in. We were actually a bit surprised to get three more hummingbird nests last week. It seems that tree trimming is progressing unabated. The OC staff is still working throughout the daylight hours to keep tiny (and sometimes not-so-tiny) mouths full and nestling and pre-fledgling hawks and falcons are still showing up into the summer. Hopefully the onset of the monsoon won’t bring in a bunch more late babies…
Last Christmas, Linda Willis coordinated a large donation of wonderful equipment and cards from the Scottsdale Insurance Company. Their employees had a special Christmas tree just for Liberty and the donations filled my truck. Last week, Linda and Jay Rine got to release two kestrels that went through our rehabilitation process. The birds did well, as did the two releasing volunteers. Thanks again for all you folks did for us!
The last little bald eagle we took in got a visit from Kyle at AZGFD on Tuesday. The bird had his locating transmitter inspected and the attaching harness adjusted while Jan held the bird. They are keeping track of the eagles in Arizona to better understand the movements of the species in the desert. Hopefully this will allow for better protection of their habitat which is critical for their long term survival.
A first year red tail hawk was found in someone’s back yard on the south side of Maricopa last week. After a 120 mile round trip, he was dropped off for assessment by Stevie in Med Services. He looked quite “down” and I had fears for his survival, but the next day, after fluids, food, and time to de-stress, he was looking much better! Hopefully he will continue to improve and be released for another shot at being a productive RTH!
The July 4th parade of decorated bikes, golf carts, horses, dogs, kids and people is a tradition in our Scottsdale neighborhood. It’s a really nice, old-fashioned family and neighbors get-together to celebrate our country’s birthday that Liberty loves to join in on by displaying some of our Education birds who stand out front and do some homespun educating as the people and decorations pass by. This year, our new neighbor Luis Gonzalez offered his truck to Liberty for Aurora and Joe to ride in as they lead the caravan through the local streets. Thanks to them and all who helped to make this a memorable event!
Poor little snake. I first got word of this kind of brutality from a board member, Bill H. who watched from his office window as a king snake made an escape across his yard to the safety of bushes. It was being pursued by a bad gathering of doves…who has ever heard of such a thing?
But, then I saw it with my own eyes…gang activity in my hood. On a fairly early dog walk, I was pulled by the dogs to a potential blood bath. (You know how it goes. Drama in the neighborhood and voyeurs come out of the woodwork.) And, yes, you heard me right. It was brutal…a dust-up of the first order. Using all of my strength, I controlled the beasts and decided to intervene.
Poor little snake was just trying to make his escape across the street when we happened on the mayhem. Hmmmmmmmmmmm…. And I am thinking, it could be good time for some snake training for the dogs who after an initial interest, it turns out, could not have cared less! They were more interested in the potential sniffs ahead of us.
But, back at the scene, here’s what was happening. The cast of characters was shocking. A rough looking gang of mourning doves and a brutal bunch of quail….frightening. And, the seeming victim was a smallish gopher snake…poor little snake. He was trying to make his way across the street in the early morning hours and these two gangs were impeding his progress…there was pecking and peeping going on…quite a ruckus. Gang signs were apparent…a wing flashed here, a flailing beak thrust there. It was clearly an interspecies gang up on the poor little snake.
As I watched, the quail were making aggressive advances and the doves were piling in whenever possible…it was vicious….ugly!
My penchant for helping the underdog took over, and I severely and unnecessarily disciplined the dogs (anyone who knows me knows what that really means) and went to the rescue of the poor little snake. I found a rusted rod at the side of the road that would insure that I wasn’t a victim of a stupid strike from the poor little snake. It immediately coiled…and struck, and I felt like a cad. Then it quickly rolled up into a ball and covered its little head and seemingly gave up. With a deft use of the rod I managed to work the little guy across the road after warning an oncoming biker of the potential for disaster for both him and the snake. Success.
Now back to the hooligans. I am pretty sure they were smiling at their victory. I might have even heard an oorah. I suppose it is possible that the poor little snake was trying to make a meal out of the little quail babies or the dove nest near-by…but what’s a poor little snake supposed to do for breakfast?
Ok, it was a meal interrupted…shame on me for inserting myself into the fray…but I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor little snake. The vision of it squished in the street overwhelmed my stoic nature observer self.
The intake total for the year is now 3252.
Released on June 26: 44 Gambel’s quail, 1 Gila woodpecker, 1 cactus wren, 1 curved bill thrasher, 1 gilded flicker + 5 northern flickers (see below), 29 doves (various), 18 cottontail rabbits, 4 LBBs* (data provided by Joan Boatwright and Sharon Sneva) *little brown birds – various
If you’re keeping track, this means that as of the end of June, we are less than 500 intakes less than the total number for 2013! We’re well on the way for a record year in terms of the number of animals we have helped. When we mention this number to other rehabilitation groups, you can usually see their jaws drop as the number sinks in. Couple this with the number of education programs we produce and the number of Native Americans and tribes to whom we provide feathers through the Non-Eagle Feather Repository, the scope of the work we do at Liberty Wildlife is truly mind boggling! Let’s take a look at some of the activities and animal stories from last week…
One of the main advantages Liberty has over other groups is the size and camaraderie of the volunteer staff. This group shot from last Friday includes the DC team and the Med Services folks (missing are the Orphan Care people who were busy feeding hundreds of hungry babies and couldn’t abandon their posts for pictures.) One of our long time Friday people, Bethany (front row, third from left ) is moving to Flagstaff but will be our North Central Arizona operative, and Erika (front row, first on left) is heading to Ecuador but will return to the area – and Liberty – in a few months.
An injured road runner can present unique problems. Most of the time, they have leg injuries and these are particularly problematic for birds who spend a lot of time on the ground. We took one in recently with a wing injury that appears to be repairable and once the wing was aligned and wrapped, his ability to “run” was tested on the red concrete floor in the ICU. This determines what the eventual course of treatment will take.
Usually the birds we see with electrical burns are the larger hawks, owls, and eagles. Any bird can sit on one wire and suffer no consequences. It’s only when they contact two wires or a wire and a grounding element that a circuit is completed and electricity flows. Kestrels are normally too small to have problems in this area, but one little female somehow managed to get zapped last week. The feathers on her left wing were damaged but we don’t really know how deep the burns went – yet. She will be under close observation for the next few weeks to determine the extent of the damage. If it’s limited to the feathers, the prognosis is good after she molts and regrows her primaries. If the current passed through tissue, we may see signs of more injury.
Many birds display their age with the color of their eyes. One of the fledgling ravens at the facility is showing off his “Paul Newman” eyes, which will darken over time. The little screech owl is displaying his expected pose of playing “dead” with closed eyes as he is examined by the Med Services volunteers.
When animals are tiny babies, it’s hard not to find them extremely cute. This time of year, I always stuff TW@L with baby pictures, not because we don’t have enough of those pictures, but because I have so many of them! Let’s face it, babies of nearly ALL species are ”Awwwww” inspiring! (and it gives me another chance to harp on being careful trimming trees. The humming bird nest above was hanging on the branch of a bush a few inches from the end and was cut off by someone trimming their foliage.
The raccoon family is still doing well, despite the extreme heat. All of them seem to enjoy the crawfish that were donated, along with more traditional fare – corn on the cob and small trout. (Nina feeds them when she is here and gets most of the good shots as they seem to disregard photography when the food arrives.)
If you’ve been following TW@L, you know we got in several baby northern flickers that survived the Slide Fire by hunkering down inside of a burning power pole. Officials from APS found them and brought them to Liberty Wildlife for rehabilitation. They were released last week back in their territory. For the full story, click HERE.
I will be sending the Frodo shirts to the printer this week. Thanks to all who placed orders for this commemorative shirt!