This Week @ Liberty – July 06, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

This has been a busy week for our eagles (and handler/s).  It started out last week in Buckeye at the dedication of a monument honoring First Responders.  It was held on the anniversary of the Yarnell fire tragedy.  It recognized fire, military, police, EMT’s and other heroes who respond to disasters that come in many forms.  Aurora, the Bald Eagle and her handler, Joe Miller were invited to watch over the ceremony and allow Aurora to strut her stuff during the National Anthem.  They were warmly welcomed, to say the least.

Next came the annual Fourth of July parade held in our neighborhood.  Joe and Aurora, the bald eagle, led the parade of neighbors astride their horses, leading their dogs, goats, and other farm animals, along with kids on bikes, in wagons and convertibles all in costume appropriate for the holiday.  If you want to talk about a fun representation of American pride, take in this annual parade if you can.  It seems this neighborhood has been honoring America for a number of years in such a fun and patriotic event.  Once again, our eagles have made it perfect.  And let’s not leave out all of the other Liberty Wildlife Ambassadors and educators who greeted the parade goers with a bit of education about the eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, and vultures who inhabit our state.  This is not your ordinary parade…no sir-eeee.

Then, later that day Joe and Jan with Sonora went to ride the rails at the Verde Canyon Rail Road.  Imagine the excitement when passengers had the honor to see that Sonora, a symbol of all things American, present in the open car providing an educational program that allowed riders to get a glimpse up close of this magnificent creature.  If luck smiled on you, you might have had a pic shot in close proximity to a powerful bald eagle!  How great it was for the train’s naturalist to be able to point out bald eagles in the canyon.  Seeing them in the wild is always greatly enhanced by an ‘up front and personal’ experience in the open train car.

What do you suppose is the pull?  Why do we get so many requests for our eagles to provide experiences for folks all over the state?  I suppose there are lots of reasons none of which demean the other powerful winged creatures that we work with.  It is just that for eons, the eagle has represented freedom, strength, integrity, independence, and to Native cultures the spirit of Godliness.  Who wouldn’t want to be reminded of all of these characteristics?

For me, the first time I looked head on to an eagle…close enough to feel the winds from his wings, I felt like I had been seen like never before.  I had been looked at by eyes that knew it all.  Corny…ok, but I bought it and was totally hooked.  I get why we have so many requests for eagles to do educational programs.  I feel pretty sure others have had or at least should have had, the same experience.

Looking eye to eye at a bald or golden eagle simply changes your life. It is indeed these charismatic animals…wolves, bears, lions, eagles that capture our souls and make us care and want to help the world that we all live in…Try it…look into the eyes of one of these animals and tell me that you don’t care.  I dare you to.  If you can look and still be unmoved, we probably won’t be won’t have much to talk about.

Oh yes, go USA Women’s World Cup Champions!!!  Maybe we could share an eagle with them.  Perfecto!

This Week @ Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total for this year is now up to 4589.

It was a hot one even after the storm last week, and now the humidity is on the rise. There was the expected spike in intakes the day after the storm, but it soon leveled off and the rate of arrivals was steady but not torrential. Another bird arrived from down south and we got in a young hawk from a falconer who brought the bird in already gift wrapped! The week was capped by the annual Fourth of July neighborhood parade on Saturday morning and as usual, the birds of Liberty were a big hit!

Alex gives Bo a foot bath

Alex gives Bo a foot bath

While the new arrivals get lots of attention, our permanent residents also are cared for constantly. Beau, our 19 year old Swainson’s hawk is having some problems with his feet (NOT bumble foot) and came in last week to get a soothing foot bath and medication from Alex and Jan. He came to us in 1996 as an imprinted fledgeling. Presenting folding fractures due to an improper diet during his captivity at a farm in the Sulphur Springs Valley, he could not even stand up when he arrived (originally we called him Bo because of his legs being bowed!) But with proper treatment, he became otherwise healthy, joined the education team and has been with us ever since.

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You can tell there was a storm

You can tell there was a storm

Whenever the monsoon begins, we get a spike in intakes from birds being blown from their nests by strong winds. Last week a windstorm hit which may or may not have been due to monsoonal activity, but the effect was the same. The mostly small birds ended up being cared for by the wonderful Orphan Care volunteers until they can be taken outside and eventually released.

The Tuesday morning team in OC

The Tuesday morning team in OC

Pox requires isolation

Pox requires isolation

The ever alert OC team discovered this little bird had developed a case of pox. The cutaneous form of pox causes warty growths on unfeathered skin, sometimes in large clusters. The size and number of growths depend on the stage and severity of infection. Birds can survive Avian Pox with proper care and supportive treatment of the pox lesions. Food, water, and protection from additional infections are keys to a bird’s successful rehabilitation.  In some cases, the pox lesions can resolve on their own in a few weeks. Thanks to the vigilance of the OC team, this was caught in it’s early stages.

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A HaHa arrives wrapped in what looks like a Houdini straight jacket!

A HaHa arrives wrapped in what looks like a Houdini straight jacket!

Jan's hands are as good as an X-ray until we get our own digital radiography machine

Jan’s hands are as good as an X-ray until we get our own digital radiography machine

An injured Harris’ hawk was brought in last week by a falconer who found the bird in the desert. Using his own falconry equipment, he wrapped the bird which helped immobilize against further injury to the broken wing. We don’t usually get animals pre-wrapped when they arrive…

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Baby Swainsons arrives from Sierra Vista

Baby Swainsons arrives from Sierra Vista

Lesley gives fluids

Lesley gives fluids…

...and then some food

…and then some food

Christy Van Cleve sent us another little bird this week as she got this baby Swanson’s hawk from some people who have a nest on their property near Sierra Vista. They found the bird on the ground after a storm and held it for several days feeding it hamburger by hand. We hope the baby will gain strength and not suffer permanent damage from this diet and feeding regimen.

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Dr. Becker and Joanie examine a barn owl

Dr. Becker and Joanie examine a barn owl

Dr. Orr examines a kestrel

Dr. Orr examines a kestrel

Why we need more space. The afternoon OC crew

Why we need more space. The afternoon OC crew

Tuesday was a “Three Vet Night” at the facility as Dr. Orr, Dr. Becker, and Dr. Wyman were all attending in the ICU. With the level of activity due to the number of recent intakes, the extra help was certainly appreciated. We also had a full staff in OC that afternoon, bringing out the obvious need for more space which we will certainly use when we occupy the new facility next year.

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Stunning dark RTH juvie

Stunning dark RTH juvie

This will be one gorgeous bird!

This will be one gorgeous bird!

Among the other patients examined and treated on Tuesday was this newly admitted  red tail juvenile. What sets him apart is his remarkable dark plumage – even for a youngster! When he gets his adult feathers, he will make a handsome bird that needs to be in the gene pool!

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The neighborhood Fourth of July parade around the Liberty Facility went off on Saturday morning and drew a large crowd, as usual…

Here comes the parade!

Here comes the parade!

Parade headliners

Parade headliners

Big crowds for our last 4th parade

Big crowds for our last 4th of July parade

Chaco impresses everyone

Chaco impresses everyone

Gotta love a kestrel

Gotta love a kestrel

All falcons are stars

All the birds are stars

Kelly and Marko display some friends

Kelly and Marko display some friends

This was, in all likelihood, our last 4th of July parade at this location. But that didn’t dampen the festivities as a large crowd of neighbors came by to look at the birds and say “Hi” to the volunteers on hand. We hope everyone had a safe, cool, and fun 4th of July!

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And a “Standing O” for Team America’s victory in the Women’s World Cup yesterday!!!

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This Week @ Liberty – June 29, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

Sunday morning bits and pieces of my neighbor’s property were strewn around my yard and floating in my pool.  The first of the monsoon season has happened here.  It wasn’t the monsoon I had hoped for.  Instead this came with the fury of the winds and was dry to the bone.  Bummer!  As big weather events go, it was electrifying, exciting, energizing…while it was happening.  As in all weather events that include wind and water, one is quick to learn that they are strong minded and can’t be dissuaded from their intent.  Stopping coursing water or the fury of winds just isn’t in the cards…they do what they want to do, and we mortals are left to clean up the mess.  Yesterday was no exception to that rule.

And, at Liberty Wildlife the scenario is pretty much the same.  We can count on a vast number of calls to the Hotline from folks like you looking for assistance with the baby/ies and nests that have blown out of trees or in some cases entire trees have become unmoored and….down come babies…cradle and all.

The next thing that happens is the crunch of gravel as cars drive into the parking lot bringing us the gifts of nature they found as a result of the storm.  Just when we had a drop off from the onslaught of the previous week it happens again.  Whew!

Despite the trashed yard and pool and the unfortunate orphans, I do look forward to the monsoon season.  Humidity aside, there seems to be some relief from the high temperatures (I hope!) and a myriad of nature events occur…all planned to coincide with the summer monsoons.  The negatives of course are lightening caused fires and rivers and streams that roil wildly taking down things in their path…like trees with nests.  But the positive far outweighs the negative.

Riparian areas are recharged.  New waters spur plant growth.  Summer grasses grow and plants bloom and seed, providing food for the newborns as they leave the safety of parents.  Many animals that normally live in burrows underground begin to surface providing a plethora of opportunities to view seldom seen creatures.

Gila monsters surface to drink water and feed on mice and eggs more plentiful at this time of year.  Vinegaroons, one of my favorite insects, make their way above ground.  Spadefoot toads take the opportunity to procreate and leave eggs behind in quickly drying pooled water while filling the air with their croaking sounds often described as “the bleating of a dying lamb”….really? With the surge of plant growth come the critters who feed on plants.  With the appearance of critters that feed on plants come other critters that feed on plant eaters…see how it is all connected!

So when you sit on the porch and watch the storms move in, take in the excitement of the storm and prepare for the ‘after effects’.  Know that all sorts of things are happening around you that represent the recharging of the environment and pause a minute to suck in a lung full of freshened air.  Then deal with the potential monsoon season hangover…your neighbor’s detritus in your pool and yard.  It may not seem like it, but it is worth it.

This Week@ Liberty

The intake total for the year has now reached 4351.

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The rate of intakes has dropped slightly as we approach the onset of monsoon season. A wind storm did hit on Saturday and we got a slight uptick on Sunday as a number of birds were blown from the safety of their nests, but over-all, the absolute inundation we received in recent weeks seems to have abated – for now. The volunteers in OC are still doing prodigious duty in caring for their tiny charges and doing so in the cramped, hot (yeah, it’s air-conditioned, but they’re are a LOT of heating pads in use!) Orphan care area. Even in the heat of the summer, every patient gets the best care possible. Here’s what happened this week…

OK, as if it wasn't hot enough, Jim has to wear polyester camouflage in DC

OK, as if it wasn’t hot enough, Jim has to wear polyester camouflage in DC

Since we try very hard to avoid improper imprinting of the orphans in the foster care area, the volunteers in Daily Care who have to work among the fosters have to wear a camouflage pancho and hood while doing their jobs. This gets even tougher when the temperature gets into the triple digits. Just ask volunteer Jim McClain!

A rare sight these days...

A rare sight these days…

But as the heat wears on, the intake rate has declined somewhat after the plateau of 80-90 per day last week. I thought it was significant to photograph the intake brooder and a couple of overflow berry baskets empty at 3:30PM Saturday afternoon!

Ann, Kimberly, Leslie, and Malorie in OC on Saturday - and they're smiling!

Ann, Kimberly, Leslie, and Malorie in OC on Saturday – and they’re smiling!

Andrea feeds a tiny finch

Andrea feeds a tiny finch

Gina Marie, John, and Cindy on Sunday

Gina Marie, John, and Cindy on Sunday

The Orphan Care volunteers are among the most dedicated people at the facility, working under constant pressure and in not the best conditions. The space is limited and they are constantly bombarded with new arrivals at the intake window. But through it all, they still find time to smile as they feed the hundreds of baby birds begging food in the berry baskets that are their homes until release. We all salute you! When we are in our new home next year, we hope it will be a little more pleasant in terms of the conditions in which we work.

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Yet another baby kestrel

Yet another baby kestrel

Ebony and Ivory - a baby cattle egret and a little green heron share an enclosure

Ebony and Ivory – a baby cattle egret and a little green heron share an enclosure

"Ciopino" looks good to this baby GBH

“Ciopino” looks good to this baby GBH

Not all the babies are tiny. The falcons can be a handful and the waders and waterfowl are bigger to start with and grow fast when fed the proper diet. We have taken in several herons and egrets this year, including a couple that actually hatched at the facility. This along with dozens of kestrels means a lot of hungry birds who eat more fish and mice each day.

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Emily examines a baby woodpecker

Emily examines a baby woodpecker

Alexa treats the woodpecker

Alexa administers fluids

Emily feeds a tiny cottontail

Emily feeds a tiny cottontail

Jacob feeds the baby grayhawk

Jacob feeds the baby gray hawk

Dr.Orr examines the little bird and evaluates his injuries

Dr. Orr examines the little bird and evaluates his injuries

Baby gray hawk nestles into  his enclosure

Baby gray hawk nestles into his enclosure

It’s incredible how rapidly baby animals grow, from the nestling Gila woodpecker, to the orphaned cottontail, to the little gray hawk that came up from the San Pedro river recently. This small bird is not so small anymore and is recovering slowly from the injury he experienced, most likely from a fall from the nest. A home-made nest was constructed in a brooder and now serves as his temporary home as he heals from the wing damage he sustained in the wild.

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Juvenile ring billed gull

Juvenile ring billed gull

Not many fish at Firebird Lake

Not many fish at Firebird Lake

Yesterday I went down to Firebird Lake on a rescue call from two gentlemen who found this injured juvenile ring-billed gull. The bird had been on the ground for several days and was extremely weak and dehydrated when I picked him up. It was reported that there had been others of this species on the lake earlier but they left leaving this youngster behind. When we got to Liberty, he was immediately given fluids and some real food (the fish in Firebird Lake are very small) and allowed to rest in a warm brooder to allow his stress level to decrease. However, by late afternoon his condition had worsened and early in the evening, he died peacefully. Birds, especially juveniles, get to a certain point during periods of starvation when they are no longer able to recover regardless of the care or treatment they receive.

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It was a long drive from Lake Havasu

It was a long drive from Lake Havasu

This little baby raccoon was brought to us by volunteer Sherrill Snyder. She drove to the western border of the state and picked up the raccoon, two kestrels, and a great horned owl from another rehabber near Lake Havasu. Then, after all that driving, she took the raccoon up to SW Wildlife for further care. Thank you Sherrill!

Another sleepy baby

Another sleepy baby

It’s not a myth that babies sleep most of the time.  This tiny baby bird was photographed as he napped after being fed by one of our awesome OC volunteers.  I just thought it was a nice picture to include after another hectic week.

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This Week @ Liberty – June 22, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

The past week is one to go down in the record books.  We feel that the extended heat spell has been more than problematic.  Starting with the Hotline, our first contact with the public in need, Carol Suits who oversees the Hotline activities had this to say about the onslaught we have been going through:

The hotline has experienced an average of one call every 3 minutes during the busiest times this week.  At that rate, the 13 hour day for the hotline can garner as many as 260 calls for the day.  

Quoting Tony Sola, long time hotline volunteer:  “This is the busiest call volume” he’s ever experienced.  Typically, a Hotline volunteer accesses the voice mailbox for Liberty and jots down messages about hurt or orphaned animals found by the public.  We endeavor to check the message center every 15 – 20 minutes and strive to return calls within half an hour.  Tony worked Friday morning 8 – 10 AM.  In that time frame, he took 40 calls or one every 3 minutes.  He described having 12 messages, each about a minute long, taking about 15 minutes to listen and log each of them.  Now it’s time to call into the message center again and there are 14 more.  Keep in mind, the simplest conversation…”bring the baby to Liberty” takes about 3 minutes.  Rescues require 15 – 20+ minutes minimum looking for an available rescue volunteer.  Concerned callers needing reassurance, advice etc. can take 6 – 8 minutes per call.  Those who call back add to the volume. 

Emmy, Thursday night 6 – 9 PM was overwhelmed with calls.  She explained that from 6 – 8:15 she took 35 calls again approximately one every 3 minutes.  Luckily, a volunteer from the previous shift, knowing it was ‘crazy’ called and helped.

So, all of those messages were about the 458 animals that we took in Sunday through Saturday this past week.  The animals were literally dropping from the sky or panting on the ground.  In two days we took in 17 Cooper’s hawk babies, five Harris’ hawks yesterday, red tails, great horned owls, barn owls, screech owls, 6 skunks (babies and mom), bunnies, squirrels, ducks, quail, doves, and the list goes on:  Sunday  saw an intake of 44, Monday  61, Tuesday  62, Wednesday  82, Thursday 83, Friday 90, Saturday 31 …. That is just crazy!  And, the heat doesn’t seem to have any plans to change drastically.

There is a takeaway from this.  Each one of those calls came from a caring individual.  Someone who took the time to call, bring the animal in or put it in a safe place for a rescue volunteer to retrieve it.  And the Hotline, with all of the craziness put the rescue together.  The animals arrived at Liberty and were assessed by a remarkable Medical Service volunteer or staff member.  From that point on either a Daily Care volunteer or an Orphan Care volunteer will continue the care and feeding of each of these new patients as well as the current ones.  The paperwork must be done, the protocols set, the medications and procedures must follow consistently until the animal is ready for release.  This year will be a record year….we are far, far ahead of where we were on this date last year…out of sight.

The remarkable thing is that with all of the pressure, with all of the busy-ness, with all the cramped quarters this group of people…the Hotline, the Rescue an Transport, the Medical Services, the Daily and Orphan Care staff and volunteers have stepped up to the plate and hit a grand slam.  They are truly the best!  Have I said that before?  Yes, I suppose so, but I can’t say it enough; I can’t thank them enough; I can’t imagine what wildlife and a caring public would do without them…

Huge applause!

This Week @ Liberty

The intake total for this year is at 4049.

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The significance of that number might not be readily apparent. Even after reading Megan’s H3 above, you almost need to look back – not far – but only three weeks ago. In those three weeks since June 1, Liberty has taken in over 1,000 animals. Let that sink in for a second or two… I was going to call this week’s update “The Cooper’s are coming! The Cooper’s are coming!” but that was on Tuesday before it was apparent that it wasn’t just Cooper’s hawks that were leaving nests early due to the heat. When I arrived at 6:15AM Wednesday there was one berry basket in the intake brooder. By noon, the brooder was full and there were baskets stacking up around ICU wherever there was space to put them. By Thursday even I was doing multiple rescue calls and we knew it was critical. Friday, Alex and the afternoon crew didn’t leave until 10PM. Then sometime on Saturday afternoon, the flood crested and the intakes slowed slightly. We guessed most of the babies that had bailed from their nests due to the heat (it had been hitting 115 most of the week) had already done so.  Now we just have to wait and see if there will be more or if the rate will abate enough for the volunteers to take a breath. Here’s a brief overview of The Week That Was….

Intake brooder at noon

Intake brooder at noon

When I arrived last Wednesday morning at 6:15AM, there was one basket in the brooder. By noon, it was beyond full. And it didn’t stop all the rest of the day. The good news is, the volunteers all stepped up and no patient was neglected and everyone got the same great level of care as is the norm at Liberty.

Tub o'skunks (photo by Toba)

Tub o’skunks (photo by Toba)

Feeding the babies (Photo by Corey Shaw)

Feeding the babies (Photo by Corey Shaw)

It's not momma, but it's good! (Photo by Corey Shaw)

It’s not momma, but it’s good! (Photo by Corey Shaw)

Mom and the last baby join the family

Mom and the last baby join the family

Last Tuesday, some construction workers moved a dumpster at their work site and found a family of skunks living underneath. Five babies were caught and brought to Liberty where they were fed and housed awaiting the arrival of their mother and the last baby. The next day the rest of the family were caught and brought in to rejoin the group. After the happy reunion, they all went to another facility specializing in mammals of the Mephitis mephitis (striped skunk) persuasion for raising and eventual release.

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A new way to feed a problem escape artist

A new way to feed a problem escape artist

If you spend any time at Liberty during Baby Bird Season, you’ll hear someone call out “BIRD OUT!!” periodically. Sometimes, the same escapee manages to get free of the feeding hands of a volunteer more than once. These are called “escape artists” and can be problematic for themselves and the volunteers. Our Friday OC coordinator Andrea Feiler tried an interesting way to solve this situation last week. Our staff is nothing if not creatively inventive!

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Well, it does say "hand feed"...

Well, it does say “hand feed”… (What you don’t see is the camouflage  gear worn by the feeder.)

More ducklings join the club including another swedish blue

More ducklings join the club including another swedish blue

Baby heron gets a meal

Baby heron gets a meal

Three baby egrets come in from the heat

Three baby egrets come in from the heat

All sorts of babies left the safety of their nests last week, mostly to escape the heat. Many were so little they have to be fed by our volunteers now that mom and dad are no longer there to perform this duty. Many will grow quickly and be released as soon as they can feed and defend themselves. In the meantime, all get a proper diet and protection from predators (including dogs, cats, kids, and cars!) as they learn to feed themselves prior to being set free to be what they were designed to be.

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Jan assesses a peregrine wing

Jan assesses a peregrine wing

Recently AZGFD was in the local paper after returning some baby peregrines to a nest on the side of a building downtown. Last week the fledglings left the nest again and since they had no where to go except into a sea of concrete and cars, they didn’t fare well. The female has damage to her right wrist which may or may not heal well enough for her to fly, and while the male is largely unhurt, he is too young to be on the ground alone and is now with foster parents. The third little bird has not been found.

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Jan and Laura stitch up an injured LBB

Jan and Laura stitch up an injured LBB (Little Brown Bird)

Mallard gets the Vet Night treatment

Mallard gets the Vet Night treatment

Juvenile screech owl is cared for

Juvenile screech owl is cared for

Another small reptile comes in

Another small reptile comes in

As the numbers rose last week, it was apparent that no species were alone in needing care. Ducks, hawks, owls, wrens, doves, geckos  – we took them all in and gave them all the same care and treatment we always provide for Arizona residents. No matter how large or small, whether it has fins, feathers or scales, it matters not to our staff. Everything has a place in the environment and deserves the right to be allowed to be what it is supposed to be.

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Cooper's hawk from Globe (Photo by Kelly Virtanen)

Juvenile Cooper’s hawk from Globe gets fluids (Photo by Kelly Virtanen)

Getting an ID band

Getting an ID band

More of the cooper's hawks

More of the Cooper’s hawks

And even more cooper's hawks...!

And even more orphaned Cooper’s hawks…!

We even got in an adult!

We even got in an adult!

It certainly was the “Week of the Cooper’s hawk,” at least early in the week. It seemed like every other arrival was at least one or in some cases three or four orphaned baby Cooper’s. It’s unfortunate that the reproductive cycle of these bird hunters coincided with the arrival of the worst heat wave of the year so far. The baby birds don’t enjoy the heat any more than we do so a lot of them just jump ship (or nest) to get some cool air. In most cases, they land intact and the parents can sometimes feed and protect them as they grow. But with nothing but red tile roofs and concrete surrounding most urban nests, their chances today are slim.

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Gray hawk from down south

Gray hawk from down south (Photo by Colin Rowe)

An injured wing gets a wrap

An injured wing gets a wrap (Photo by Colin Rowe)

Over the weekend our team down in the southeast took in this little nestling gray hawk from near the San Pedro river near Sierra Vista. Sandy Anderson got it to Christy van Cleve who took it to Tucson where she rendezvoused with R&T volunteer Colin Rowe who brought it up the last 90 miles to Liberty yesterday. It appears the b bird suffered a fractured wing in the fall from the nest and will now be cared for until he/she is old enough to be returned to the wild.

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And finally……

OK, did somebody really give this bird red velvet cake?

OK, did somebody really give this baby bird red velvet cake?

Even though we try to avoid non-natives, this little starling came to the window after being rescued by a well-meaning individual. Filling out the intake form, what stuck out was the line which indicated that the person who found it gave it “red velvet cake” before they brought it to us. Never let it be said that our birds don’t get top-tier treatment!

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This Week @ Liberty – June 15, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

I don’t want this to sound morose, but it is a topic that needs to be discussed.  I got an email from a nice lady wondering if we euthanized animals.  Fair question, I guess.  And, the answer, of course, is yes.  We don’t like having to do it, but for many reasons we have to.

There are provisions in our permits that require certain existing conditions in an animal must result in euthanizing the animal.  I won’t go into detail, but in general we euthanize an animal that will have no quality of life.  That means not only in the wild (that is clearly a no brainer!) but also an animal that would have no quality of life in captivity will be euthanized.  This is a last resort to us and to many like us.  We don’t make the decision lightly.  No one likes to do it, especially in a group of dedicated, compassionate animal lovers.  It is also this group who could not watch an animal suffer needlessly.

The good news is that many of the deemed non-releasable animals, those that could survive nicely in captivity but in no way could make a living in the wild, have options.

We have a great track record of placing non-releasable animals either in our own educational program or by sending them to other educational or breeding institutions across the United States.  They can become ambassadors to their species and educate an eager public about the beauty and benefits of native wildlife….a successful effort at sustaining species through education and propagation.

Always our first choice is to release an animal back into the wild.  If we can release it where it came from, that is the best alternative.  If that isn’t an option we release animals in a safe, compatible habitat.  They may have to find an empty territory on their own, but that is the way of the wild.  Our release rate is right up there with and above the national average for other facilities.

When you deal with over 5000 animals (as many as 140 different species) a year like we do, it isn’t hard to imagine the activities surrounding the care and ultimate disposition of each one of the animals.  When a caring person brings an animal in to us, they are often disappointed to know that we can’t call them to report on the progress of that particular animal.  It just isn’t possible.  We get in as many as 70-75 animals a day…that entails keeping the paperwork up to date on each one, triaging it, creating a protocol for it, preparing food, caring for it according to that protocol, following its progress, treating wounds, medicating, cleaning up for it…etc.  That ends up being a full day for staff and volunteers who start again the next day and the next throughout the year.

Please trust that any animal you put in our trust will get the best care possible with our ultimate goal of release back into the wild.  It is what we do and have done for over 34 years.

This Week @ Liberty

The intake total has now reached 3607.

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

There is an ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times” and last week was a bit on the “interesting” side. We had the usual arrival of orphans, both passerines and raptors showing up. We took in another bird from down south (Sierra Vista) and yet another glue trap brought in a host of victims all by its evil self. The people who were doing our monthly newsletter Nature News are no longer providing the service so we’re taking it in-house and that has been a time-consuming preoccupation for some of us.  All-in-all, a normal week as the thermometer heads up with a vengeance. Work on the site of the new facility is nearing it’s launch, and I’ll try to keep you updated on that front, possibly with a “virtual groundbreaking” when it occurs. In the meantime, lets take a look at the first truly hot week this summer as the Summer Solstice approaches…

OC bustles with activity

OC continues to bustle with activity

As we approach the middle of the summer season, the dedicated (and largely unsung) volunteers in Orphan Care continue their nearly non-stop care for the tiny patients peeping and begging for food. Hopefully this will be the last year the endless and heroic job of feeding and tending to the needs of these bundles of hope for the next generation will have to be accomplished in the cramped quarters of the designated OC area. Thank you to all OC volunteers for your tireless service!

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The "Sole Survivor" canker hawk gets some relief

The “Sole Survivor” canker hawk gets some relief (photo by Andrea Sobotka)

The near fledgling RTH that I brought in two weeks ago was recovering from his case of canker but something concerned Jan. Whenever a large piece of the protozoan growth dies and breaks off, the hole in the tissue behind it can lead to uncontrolled hemorrhage and this bird had a lump of it the size of a tennis ball in its throat. Jan was afraid the resulting eruption could take out the bird’s crop. Dr. Orr examined the bird and last week and sutured the opening shut after removing the diseased portion. We’re all hoping the only member of this family will survive!

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A closer look at a kestrels foot

A closer look at a kestrels foot

He might lose a toe

He might lose a toe

Nice view of the "False Eyes"

Nice view of the “False Eyes”

Another little kestrel came in recently with a damaged foot. Kestrels have long, thin toes and sometimes they get caught on things. If the constriction is not removed, the circulation is cut off and the appendage can die. Fortunately for these birds, they have four toes and as long as they retain the back one (known as the halux), they can learn to adapt adequately. Notice another adaptation of kestrels – the “false eyes” on the back of his head. These are thought to scare off predators approaching from behind as they appear as if the bird is looking toward the rear!

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Speaking of kestrels...

Speaking of kestrels…

Two more baby siblings - these being herons.

Two more baby siblings – great blue herons.

And while we’re on the subject of kestrels, I had to get a picture of these two little siblings that arrived as orphans. Now in the care of Med Services, they will be cared for until they can be placed with our foster parents Gilda and Fitz.  Did I mention they have long skinny toes?  And in the twin-baby column, the lower photo shows two baby great blue herons (yes, they will be 4 feet tall eventually!) that were hatched at Liberty a short while ago. All shapes and sizes pass through our facility…

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Catchmaster at work. What a wonderful piece of technology - NOT!

Catchmaster at work – the entire food chain cruelly killed.

What more can we say?

What more can we say?

Well, I hate to beat a dead horse, but I will anyway. Another glue pad trap arrived the other day, complete with all parts of the local food chain: A cricket, obviously being stalked by the scorpion, who in turn was probably being hunted by the gecko, who ended up being pursued by the cactus wren – your state bird. If you look closely at the text on the pad, it says “Catches Mice, snakes, crickets, Bats, Fleas, Ticks, Mites, Lice, Roaches, Brown Recluse Spiders, and other potentially Disease Transmitting insects” if you can read through the feathers of the cactus wren – which is conveniently NOT mentioned on the list. Actually, the only thing on the list that this one did catch was the cricket. I suppose we should all be impressed because it’s “Non-Poisonous” and proudly made in the USA… (And BATS? Really?!?!)

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Tuesday night Med Services team works on a barn owl

Tuesday night Med Services team works on a barn owl

Dr. Becker looks at a GHO eye

Dr. Becker looks at a GHO eye

Sarah gets some pointers

Sarah gets some pointers

Again, Dr. Becker provided a large amount of help at Vet Night last Tuesday. With all the patients we have this time of year, it’s great to have a full staff of experienced people to treat the animals. In addition to the usual cast of characters, our own Sara Wycoff who is going to vet school at Midwestern University was on hand to help out and get some hands-on experience with the help of Jan and Dr. Becker. She wants to work in Wildlife Conservation Medicine when she is done in 2018. Hopefully she’ll be able to donate some of her skills to Liberty down the road!

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And now, just a few fun pictures from last week…

Why do all mockingbirds look so angry?  "I'll hold my breath 'till I turn blue!"

Why do all mockingbirds look so angry? “I’ll hold my breath ’till I turn blue!”

A great, protective daddy

A great, protective mourning dove daddy on Father’s Day (photo by Doris Pedersen)

"I'm INNOCENT I tell ya!!!"

“I’m INNOCENT I tell ya!!!”

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This Week @ Liberty – June 08, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

This is an active and productive time of year for wildlife.  So much is going on with pairing up, breeding and fledging that a great deal of pressure is put on critters as they make their ways newly into a world of waiting hazards. I would like to remind you of a few things that you can do to ease their entry into our shared space.  If you are a consistent reader of this blog you will recognize these points, but many are new and many need to be reminded.  It is our responsibility to do what we can to help make the season a productive one, for their good and for ours.  See what you can do to help with these things.

  • If you find a baby bird on the ground and can find its nest and if it is safe to do, please put the baby back.  You can put a nest back in the tree as long as it is anchored safely.  Then watch to make sure the parents return.  The parent birds do a better job than anyone in raising their babies and the old wives tale that says they will reject a baby with human scent is just plain wrong…birds have a very poor sense of smell and the instinct to raise the babies that they have invested so much energy into trumps all.
  • Do not prune trees in the winter, spring and summer.  In fact mid fall is probably the best time at the end of breeding season and before the beginning of the next season which for some starts with late winter nest building.  Put trimming and pruning off as long as you can and you will single handedly be responsible for saving many lives.
  • As many babies will be growing up there will be a larger demand for food.  Pesticides and rodenticides are killers.  Not only are they killers of insects, rats and mice, they are also indiscriminate and can take out a pet as well as the normal predator who could succumb to secondary poisoning.  Just don’t use poisons…don’t do it.  If you are inundated with rodents get a good snap trap and put it in an area where you have seen the signs of rodents making sure nothing else can inadvertently get snapped.  It is quick and deadly and pretty much targeted to the pest.  As for pesticides, the insects that you seek to eradicate are often the ones the parents are seeking to feed their clutches.  No insects, no successful fledgling of babies.  Let the natural pest killer do its job and the environment will be better for all of us.  Keep areas clean and make insect homes less available and a balance should be attained.
  • I have talked incessantly about sticky traps.  Don’t use them.  It is cruel.  A mouse or rat will attempt to chew its stuck appendage off to flee the trap.  It is much less cruel to use a snap trap if you must. And, a number of non-target animals fall prey to sticky traps like thrashers, cactus wrens, lizards, etc.  They happen along doing what they are supposed to do and are inadvertently snagged by the unspecific glue on the trap where they will struggle to death…not nice…don’t use them anywhere.
  • Lastly, clean out your water fountains, bird feeders and bird baths weekly.  Birds can and are spreading trichomoniasis which is a protozoan spread from nasal secretions, secretions from the mouth or through the feces of birds as they eat and drink.  Doves and pigeons contract it and the infected bird can then become a food source for raptors.  It affects the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems and can be deadly.  Use good hygiene where birds amass, cleaning and disinfecting bowls and fountains to help keep the spread of this disease under control.

If you help by doing your part removing unnatural hazards, slipping into the world will be less traumatic for this year’s offspring…better for them and better for you.

This Week @ Liberty

The intake total for the year is up to 3250.

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

Hmmm. The heat of summer should be upon us, but with a couple of exceptions, it’s been mild, temperature-wise. One more indication that the term “global warming” might better be replaced with a more accurate “climate change” which is truly playing havoc with the cycles on nature and wildlife.  Although it’s been relatively cool and wet, we’re still getting tons of baby birds and mammals, along with injured adults. These are really sad since in many cases, these adult birds are the parents of babies who are now at risk of starvation and predation without their parents to feed and protect them. The best we can do is try to keep up with the intakes and get as many back into the wild as soon as possible. Here’s what happened last week…

Two brand new gila woodpeckers

Two brand new gila woodpeckers

Small bat looks hungry

Small bat looks hungry

Some of the smallest intakes last week included these two tiny newly hatched Gila woodpecker babies still displaying their prominent egg tooth. These little guys were a sensational departure from the endless stream of doves and other more common orphans, all of which get total loving care from the volunteers in OC. The little bat arrived last night after being found by some children in north Phoenix who cared enough to Google their need for a bat rescuer and Liberty was listed first – and termed the best!

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Baby cooper's hawk gets the full camo treatment

Baby cooper’s hawk gets the full camo treatment

An orphan baby cooper’s hawk is being fed by the volunteers and staff until it can move outside. While being hand fed, camouflage and silence is the rule to prevent improper imprinting which would jeopardize his candidacy for release. From the looks of this little guy’s crop, he’s NOT lacking for food as he grows rapidly into an avian specialist hunter.

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Baby BCNH gets weighed

Baby BCNH gets weighed

Fledgeling black crowned night heron on the scale

Fledgling black crowned night heron on the scale

We certainly get a variety of ages  – even in the same species.  The little nestling BCNH above will rapidly grow into the fledgling below and then just as fast into an adult. The fledgling in the lower photograph is being prepared (banded) by Alex and Jan prior to being moved into an outside enclosure and some lessons in self-feeding.

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RTH nestling is checked for injury

RTH nestling is checked for injury

And we always get in our share of red tailed hawks during baby bird season. As soon as they are old enough, they are placed in with our foster parents for proper imprinting and training in the fine art of being a red tail! Along the way, all orphans are monitored to make sure they are staying healthy and free of parasites and injuries they may acquire while in the fragile nestling stage.

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A duck seems to like her "Manolo Millers"

A duck seems to like her “Manolo Millers”

A vast improvement!

A vast improvement!

This duck came in with a foot problem which dictated some clever remedy.  Jan and her team in Med Services fashioned a special orthopedic shoe from some high-tech material which protected the foot and gave her some support as the foot and leg healed. The results were gratifying as after the shoe was removed, the foot and leg seemed altogether improved and she was allowed to move outside into the waterfowl enclosure.

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A GHO with a wing problem gets checked by our new friend and volunteer, Dr. Karen Becker

A GHO with a wing problem gets checked by our new friend and volunteer, Dr. Karen Becker

Dr Becker inspects a screech owl's eye injury

Dr Becker inspects a screech owl’s eye injury

We have a new addition to our Tuesday afternoon “Vet Night” staff, Dr. Karen Becker. She was in the ICU last week and her help and experience was welcomed by all the volunteers. The animals will all certainly benefit from having another veterinarian on hand to help out with the medical work required by the more seriously injured birds and mammals. Welcome to the team, Dr. Becker! We hope you enjoy your time with us!

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A young RTH fledgeling arrives with a serious case of canker

A young RTH fledgeling arrives with a serious case of canker

Jan probes for a passageway

Jan probes for a passageway

The sole survivor of the family

The sole survivor of the family

I went a couple of miles down the road from Liberty last week to rescue this young red tailed hawk that had been reported walking around the neighborhood, unable to fly. I found him under a bush looking fairly down but better than a sibling that was dead across the street. Both had come from a nest in a large tree which still contained a parent and two more babies. Upon examination, Jan discovered a serious case of canker but with an open passageway for food and air. Treatment began immediately with anti-canker drugs, food, and hydrating fluids. Sadly, within days the lady who initially called reported two more dead hawks under the tree. Once this protozoan (trichomoniasis) enters a nest, it’s probable that all of the inhabitants will be affected by this extremely contagious condition. We are trying really hard to keep this little guy alive as he is the last survivor of the family in that nest.  A tough way to begin life…

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Jan and Alex examine a swainsons from Sierra Vista

Jan and Alex examine a swainsons from near Sierra Vista

Our good friend and frequent source of birds from down south, Christie van Cleve, sent us this young Swainson’s hawk last week. The bird has unknown injuries and is currently under observation to determine the type and extent of the damage. Our system of relaying injured birds from the southeastern part of the state is working well!

 

 

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This Week @ Liberty – June 01, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

Sometimes I sit in the office signing checks or something else necessary but not so exciting and listen to the sounds of the season.  Here are some of them that most people don’t get to hear, ever.   It is mostly about a group of people, compromised animals, and being on task with the tasks that must be done to successfully complete the job.

I often hear:

  • The murmur of voices of people going about their jobs…just an undefined murmur that says there is an established protocol; it is known; it is followed; it is necessarily unspoken above a whisper.
  • The swish of a broom, the swipe of a mop, the tiptoeing over wet floors…just a tiptoe.
  • The opening and closing of cages in intensive care, the scrubbing of inside cages, the crumpling of newspaper, the filling and emptying of the trash.
  • The constant chitter, chatter of begging babies or protesting patients.
  • The ring of the phone, the ring of the bell at the window indicating contact with the public and the delivery of new patients.
  • The chop of food preparation, the whir of a blender, the beep of the microwave, the pebbly sound of crumbles into a dish.
  • The clanging of dishes as they are washed and prepared for the next use, the cleaning of the counters and the removal of dried dishes.
  • The hum of the air conditioner.
  • The office murmurs as food is ordered, questions from the public are answered, business as usual.
  • The subtle cheering at observing an egg hatching, awe at the unbelievable struggle to attain life.
  • The sounds of outrage at some human misconduct resulting in horrendous and unnecessary injury.
  • The scurry and stamping of little feet in boxes of animals getting ready to be released…

That might be the best. There are good and bad sounds of the season, but they all indicate a group of dedicated people are going about doing their jobs to give wildlife a second chance.  We all understand the circle of life, but often absurd interference interrupts the natural cycle, and we are here to help.  I am not sure what cold heart would have it any other way…what cold heart could walk by something needing help and look the other way. I prefer to listen to the sounds of the season and know we won’t and don’t ever look away.

This Week at Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total for the year is now at 3000.

Now that the male condor has gone, things are settling in to the normal routine of intakes, rehabbing, and medical care for the rest of the animals, both adult and orphans. I was out of town last week so I don’t have a lot of graphics to adorn this week’s update, but I did put together a video of one of the quail eggs hatching in Susie’s hand that might be interesting.  We’re getting closer to fencing in the property at the site of the new facility at which time we’ll begin grading and smoothing for the foundations. I hope to have a photographic record of this when it occurs. So for now, enjoy the video and try to stay cool as you listen to the sights and sounds of…LIFE!

California condor #272 about to go free! (photo not by me)

Laureen, Eddie, California condor #272, and Richard just prior to release (photo by Angela)

Two Liberty volunteers – Laureen Ong and Richard Skwarek, recently purchased a weekend at Lees’s Ferry Lodge at an Audubon event.  The trip included a tour of the California condor facility conducted by Chris Parish. Chris was unavailable to give the tour but Eddie Feltes stepped in which turned out to be a lucky turn for Laureen and her husband.  Eddie had just brought number 272 back after five months of rehabilitation and medical work at Liberty Wildlife and was about to release the bird. The two Liberty people got to experience the return of 272 and another juvenile into the wild.

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We actually don’t get to hatch many eggs at Liberty, and seeing one go through the hatching process is even more rare. But  on May 20, all present in the ICU held their breath for almost 6 minutes as this little quail struggled to be born! With a final kick and push, he emerged into the open to join dozens of others being raised at the facility prior to being released.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIFE EMERGE!

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This Week @ Liberty – May 25, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

Applause, wild applause, goes to our Orphan Care Department.  Last Saturday we took in a total of 72 animals, and that is just crazy.  Each of these animals must be admitted, and that means taking the information from the public that brought the animal in or getting it from a rescue person responsible for fetching the more challenging animals.  These wide varieties of animals also have to be assessed by the Medical Services volunteer.  Those staying in the Orphan Care area are very lucky.  We aren’t talking about the raptors yet.

There is a process, of course, for making all of this happen in a way that ensures the best care for each animal.  In the Orphan Care area there is always the paperwork…a system designed to follow each baby to its ultimate spot be it a berry basket, brooder, or foster situation.  They spend time indoors getting stabilized from ailments like dehydration, broken wings, inability to regulate its own temperature, etc.  Those bins, baskets, and brooders all have to be kept clean and ready for the next patient…constant cleaning and refurbishing.

Each of these orphans is banded, and its particular paperwork follows it from bin to brooder and then to an outside flight enclosure when the time comes to ready it for ultimate release into its proper habitat.

And there is the food.  Currently there is a wide variety of species that we are dealing with…from hummingbirds to flickers, from roadrunners to killdeer, from doves to finches, from ducks to geese, from little green herons to great grackles.  Guess what.  They do not all eat the same thing, and they do not all require the same size enclosures, or the same substrate, and we must adapt to their needs.  We need to understand and know the needs of 130+ species that we see each year.

There are 6 different aviaries all designed to house compatible species with similar needs and food requirements and someone needs to assess the food needs, the readiness of each individual to move from one “station” in life to another.

This past week eleven different species (remember we aren’t talking about all of our raptor babies) were transitioned into the outside aviaries to get them ready to be released.  At the same time the onslaught of deliveries continued in the Orphan Care room, and it will go like this until end of August.  There are 76 Orphan Care volunteers who work 4 hour shifts for 12-13 hours a day 7 days a week.  That is lights on at 7:00 A.M. until the lights go out at 7-8:00 P.M.  The cacophony of little beggers is a constant during the days and demanding beaks and squeaks is the music we hear….the baby chorus!

Here’s the catch…we have just gotten started.  The second round is just beginning and most years we get a lesser third round.  It is very busy around here. It is a blessing that we have such an awesome group of people tending the nursery.  These are volunteers who fill in for each other, support each other, and do an overall wonderful job!

Stay tuned.  I am sure you will hear more about this marvelous group of volunteers and the babies they are growing up for release.  Rest assured that what you drop off at the window will get the best care possible!!!  And, remember that we haven’t yet mentioned  the raptors…more to come!

This Week @ Liberty

The intake total is now up to 2649.  (And note: It’s only May 25th.)

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

We’re taking in a LOT of animals right now, so many that the new patients sometimes have to get stacked up. On the other end of the rehabilitation pipeline is the release and a couple of birds made the final jump, including the male California condor, #272, who has been in our care since early January! Plus the usual owls, hawks, bunnies (and snakes!) keep arriving as the season progresses. The volunteers are up to the task and all the animals get the care they need. Here’s some of the recent activity…

The new patient "waiting room" in the ICU

The new patient “waiting room” in the ICU

As Megan mentioned above, we had a record intake day last week. For a time, the new arrivals got briefly stacked up awaiting their inital assessment before treatment began. But the wait is never too long and soon everyone gets the loving care they need. This is a RARE occurrence at Liberty but the numbers are rising rapidly.

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Snake trapped in netting

Snake trapped in netting (photo by Kim)

Carefully snipping the net (photo by Kim)

Carefully snipping the net (photo by Kim)

An unlucky gopher snake got tangled up in some garden netting recently and was rescued by some caring people. The snake was caught in plastic net that is used to control foliage on the ground but is also a hazard for ground animals including reptiles. This isn’t the first instance of this we have seen over the years and it probably won’t be the last. People just need to be careful when inserting material like this into the wild environment.

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Eddy and Jan gather 272 for the last time

Eddie and Jan gather 272 for the last time

Jan removes the last stitches

Jan removes the last stitches

He really does look happy to be going home!

He really does look happy to be going home!

One more time into the carrier

One more time into the carrier

The long journey home begins

The long journey home begins

After being taken in for treatment in late December, California condor #272 came to Liberty for care in early January. The next 5 months saw long, arduous treatment for the ravages of lead poisoning. These included the initial surgery on his crop, followed by multiple feedings and hydration every day. This takes its toll on both the bird and the volunteers doing the treatments. Finally, he began to move his food in a normal manner and after his crop was closed surgically, he was well enough to return to the Vermillion Cliffs. His departure marks the longest condor treatment yet at Liberty, but it was successful!

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A meeting of the minds

A meeting of the minds

Tiny barn owl with a schroeder-thomas splint

Tiny barn owl with a schroeder-thomas splint

Baby bunny with wounds from cat

Baby bunny with wounds from cat

It might not be mom, but it still tastes good

It might not be mom, but it still tastes good

Little animals have shown up recently, including a tiny new bunny that had been attacked by a cat, and this very small barn owl that has a broken hip. Both are getting excellent care by the dedicated staff at Liberty.

Chimney retrieval gho fledgling

Chimney retrieval GHO fledgling

It took me two hours to get this little great horned owl out of a chimney in Scottsdale last week. Chimney extractions are all different as each fireplace is made differently and provide unique challenges. This one was larger than most giving the little bird the opportunity to move around and stay ahead of me, but I was finally able to get him free. He was very dehydrated and thin having been trapped for several days before we got the call.

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Herron gets weighed

Herron gets weighed

Jan checks a wing

Jan checks a wing

Jan and Alex suture a kestrel

Jan and Alex suture a kestrel

Some of the more “usual” suspects – a young green heron and a little kestrel get treated after being weighed and assessed. Our Medical Services staff are some of the best in the business giving all patients the best chance for survival.

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Two released hummers (photo by Kim)

Two released hummers (photo by Kim)

Sitting on a fountain

Sitting on a fountain (photo by Kim)

Tongue in the air

Tongue in the air (photo by Kim)

Two hummingbirds were released by volunteer Kim Macchiaroli last week. The little birds decided to hang around the release area for a while giving Kim the chance to take some great pictures of the pair as they explore their new freedom. Thanks, Kim!

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Snowy and cattle egret share an enclosure

Snowy and cattle egret share an enclosure

Two not-quite-so-common intakes were sharing an inside enclosure last week. A cattle egret (named for their habit of hanging around cattle in a field as they churn up insects as they walk) and a snowy egret (a similar species that wades in shallow water looking for food) came in for unknown injuries and were housed in the same ICU enclosure. Just a photo for all you “power” birders to aid in species identification!

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………Remember their sacrifices……..

They gave everything...

They gave everything…

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This Week @ Liberty – May 18, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

Last Friday, the third Friday in May, was Endangered Species Day.  It seems odd to “celebrate” endangered species…we should be celebrating “no endangered species day”, but that isn’t the reality.  What is actually spotlighted on the third Friday of May is the importance of diversity in our wildlife and our wild places…their habitats.  It is more often than not, the loss of those wild places that result in endangered species.  We recognize the importance and necessity of both.

So, I was thinking about the “talk” that rattles on about species becoming extinct all of the time and that we should just let nature take its course…and of course it isn’t nature taking its course so much as humans taking their courses.  The rattling doesn’t really take into consideration the connectedness of things and this brought to mind the quote by John Muir: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

But I continued to think about species that I wouldn’t mind seeing the tail end of and flies and mosquitoes came quickly to mind.  As the days warm up, and it is wonderful to have windows and doors open to the outside or to spend some quality time out of doors, the negative of flies and mosquitoes rears its ugly head.

What good are they anyway?  As annoying as they are they do serve important purposes.  If you can get past the part of mosquitoes killing more people around the world than just about any other insect, you find that the larvae of the mosquito provides an enormous biomass of food which is critically important particularly to the aquatic food chain.  They have been around since the Cretaceous period and are also a part of the connectivity to birds, bats and spiders (now there’s another one I am not too willing to cozy up to, but get the importance of…).  Without food for birds, bats, spiders and the complex aquatic world the comfortable web of life that we have adapted to would be quite different and would probably soon be minus the human race.

I tried again to find a species that I thought I could do without and focused on flies.  Aside from being pretty good at swatting them (I do warn them before I go after them), I was eagerly imagining their absence. Research once again showed me the errors of my thinking.   There is the fact that fly larvae assist forensic scientists in determining the time of death of a corpse.  Ok, I guess that is important.  And, they have for years and years, and still do help medically by eating dead tissue and bone to assist in healing from injuries…this is a fact, I do not lie.  Larvae are placed on the skin of an injured person and the larvae feasts leaving behind what they leave behind which acts to further clean up the wound.  I guess that is pretty nifty.  And, they are greatly important in the deterioration of the dead bodies and yes, poop, that are rampant in the out of doors.  They also provide food for other animals, being low on the food chain. Once again an interruption at the bottom does nasty work at the top…which would be us.

I won’t go on.  I gave up my thoughts of species I would like to see disappear and will continue to swat and slap while respecting the importance of diversity of wildlife and wild places.  Here’s a Save the Date reminder for each of you:  Celebrate Endangered Species Day next year on the third Friday of May.  We do find everything hitched to everything else in the universe.

This Week @ Liberty

The intake number is now up to 2348.

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

Things are getting back to a little more normal as we inch past W4W 2015, but there was another fundraising event yesterday, a motorcycle ride (Born to B Wild) as a part of Bike Week 2015 with proceeds going to help Liberty.  More orphans are coming in daily and a couple animals got released plus the male condor, #252, is finally well enough to have his final surgery and get ready to go back to the Vermillion Cliffs soon. We are again partnering with Iberdrola Renewables to help them relocate some prairie dogs near their wind farm up north, and one of our flight enclosures has now been rededicated to being a duck pen hosting several dozen (and growing!) orphan ducklings. Lets see what it looked like this week…

Liberty birders

Liberty birders

Periodically, Claudia takes people on guided birding tours so the volunteers can get to see birds NOT in enclosures or suffering from injuries. Recently she took six volunteers down to Patagonia where her Tuesday Daily Care and Hand Feed team got to enjoy some time away from the valley and engage in some team-building in a beautiful setting. (See? It’s not all dead mice and flies!) Thanks to Claudia for all she does!

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Megan and Nina accept a check from John Sherman with Iberdrola

Megan and Nina accept a check from John Sherman with Iberdrola

Recently Liberty entered into a renewed partnership with Iberdrola Renewables, a branch of the international energy company providing wind and other advanced technology energy production. These funds will enable us to join with them to relocate a colony of prairie dogs near their Arizona wind farm in order to minimize the impact of the turbines on a local golden eagle population.

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Growing foster population

Wyatt and Josie’s growing foster family

Wyatt and Josies family

The numbers are staggering

Protective daddy Igor

Protective daddy Igor

Igor and Elvira's fosters

Igor and Elvira’s 17 fosters

As always this time of year, the numbers of foster baby great horned owls grows dramatically. Currently we have at least four foster families in the process of raising orphans on the property, with Igor and Elvira tied with Josie and Wyatt, both of which have 17 fosters in their care. Smaller groups are with Maggie, Snickers and Heddy. We certainly expect the numbers to continue to rise as the summer progresses.

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Lots o'ducklings

Lots o’ducklings

One of the biggest sources of intakes of late has been ducklings! The parents set up a nest under foliage in someone’s backyard pool area and 4 weeks later, one day there are a whole family of ducklings paddling in the pool! We try to intervene before they hatch but once they come out, they have to be removed as they will certainly starve in short order. At that point, catching the mom is critical as then the whole family (the babies are fairly easy to catch in the water) can be relocated to a more natural environment. If the mom flies off, then the babies have to come to a rehabilitation facility as they cannot survive without parental protection until they can fly – which may be 3 months down the road. And here we are with this story: the ducklings above have no parents and are with us until they are flighted!

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Baby bunny naps in the brooder

Baby bunny naps in the brooder

And while we’re talking about babies needing care, I had to enter this baby cottontail in the “Cutest baby of the week” contest…along with the ground squirrels, antelope squirrels, etc…

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Dr.Orr examines the Pygmy owl

Dr.Orr examines the Pygmy owl

(It’s nice to have Dr. Orr around to help out with the vet duties when they are needed!) This was last week prior to the next story, the last surgery on Condor #272!)

Dr.Wyman assists Dr.Orr with the condor surgery

Dr. Wyman assists Dr. Orr with the condor surgery

Almost ready to go home!

Almost ready to go home, #272 post-surgery!

Last week condor #272, the male that arrived last January, is finally almost ready to go home. This bird was a real challenge as his progress from his initial arrival with lead poisoning was excruciatingly slow and punctuated by phugoid-type oscillations of improvements and setbacks. But now, he is better and as soon as he is healed from the surgery to close his crop, he’ll be driven back to the Vermillion Cliffs to rejoin the flock!

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Kim and Sky educate

Kim and Sky educate

Who doesn't love an owl?

Who doesn’t love an owl?

Ace is always a star

Ace is always a star

Jan and Salsa in the mirror

Jan and Salsa are closer than they appear…

Jan does the countdown

Jan does the countdown

Logan does the release

Logan does the release

A benefit event was held on Sunday during “Bike Week” terminating at the Grand Canyon Harley-Davidson in Mayer, AZ. Bikers from the Phoenix area, Scottsdale, and Flagstaff all rode to Mayer. The lucky bikers got to listen to live music, have lunch, and learn about Arizona wildlife up close and personal as Liberty presented an array of education hawks, owls, falcons and an eagle. The weather was perfect and everyone seemed to enjoy the day, especially a lucky red tail hawk who got released during the event! Thanks go out to Two Gals Events for arranging the program for us!

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This Week @ Liberty – May 11, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

A heartfelt thanks goes out to the myriad of people who helped make this year’s Wishes for Wildlife such a huge sell-out success.  To Peggy Cole, Carol Suits and the Guardians (too many hard workers to name, but you know who you are), John Glitsos and Terry Stevens for the Liberty Feud game and the videos, the benefit chairs, Susie Alofs and Bobi Seredich, Michael Barnard for his professional assistance, Joelle Hadley as Emcee, the Liberty Wildlife staff who pitched in when needed, the education volunteers, our Corporate Chairs Patti and Ken Vegors and Cr8tive Events for the beautiful décor.  And, it frightens me to think what I would do without the assistance of Mark Kenger and the SRP AV crew.  All of these folks plus the roomful of attendees made the event a huge success.  Thanks to each of you for bringing all the moving parts together in symphony.

And while at the event I was reminded of Balinda’s books which were a donated item for the auction. I had an opportunity after the dust settled to pick them up and re-read them.  The bottom line is, EVERYONE WITH YOUNGSTERS should add these three books to your favorite kid’s collection.  Go to our store, www.libertywildlife.net  and place your order for:  I Got Barfed on by a Turkey Vulture, Tiny But Mighty, and Who is Making that Noise?  IGBOBTVKestrel CoverGHO CoverThey are jammed in a fun way with simple but important facts, with charming original children’s art and a whole lot of heart and soul about nature and its denizens.  You can’t go wrong with this fun way to educate your young charges about the importance of these critters in the greater scheme of things

We need to raise more young people to support our mission in one way or another.

Thanks to all of the adults who supported us this year at Wishes for Wildlife.  See the rest of you next year?

These Weeks @ Liberty

The intake total for this year now stands at 2038. (Yeah, read that number again!)

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

We’re BAAAAACCCKKK!   If you didn’t notice, the intake number is now above 2,000! Three weeks ago when we did the last full edition, it had just past 1,000 during the week. It is really getting busy around the facility, but then again, it is always busy this time of year. We have had a lot of activity since the last full posting on April 20th, with new injured animals arriving, some getting released, more fund-raising taking place (a necessary job to keep the organization running and in view of our planned move to a new facility within the year), and more babies animals than ever in our care, all the people of Liberty Wildlife are working tirelessly to provide the best care possible for all the animals that we take in. Let’s review the past few weeks…

AZGFD brings in another down eagle

AZGFD brings in another down eagle

Alex and Curt hydrate the juvenile bald

Alex and Curt hydrate the juvenile bald

On April 23, AZGFD brought in a seriously sick juvenile Bald Eagle for treatment. The bird was down and obviously in distress. Unfortunately the bird died within a day or so, and we’re waiting for test results to determine if his death was caused by lead, West Nile Virus, some other pathogen, or a combination of toxins.

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Colorado river toad

Colorado river toad

Well, we don’t really get many toads at Liberty, but once in a while one hops through our doors… A few years ago we got one in and I’ll never forget the presentation listed on his sheet: “Disoriented”  OK, I’m not sure how a toad can be disoriented – or how you could tell if he were – but we got another one recently.  This one appeared healthy and we suspect it was somebody’s pet that either got loose or was set free. They are in fact natives so release was in his prescription.

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Flammulated owl

Flammulated owl

Owls come in all shapes and sizes, what with 14+ species to choose from in North America. A majority of people don’t realize that outside of Great Horned owls and barn owls, most owls around here are pretty small. This flammulated owl came in recently with serious head/back injuries of unknown origin and served to show how diminutive and fragile these little guys can be.

GHO from Luke

GHO from Luke

By the same token, this GHO was brought in from Luke AFB not long ago.  All birds are seen as hazards to aircraft operation and when they get too close to the Air Force, they are routinely removed. This little guy was lucky enough to have been taken with no physical damage, unlike the majority of raptors which are removed by fatal means.

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Swedish Blue ducks (?)

Blue Swedish ducks (?)

I know this sounds like a Monty Python routine, but these two Blue Swedish (if you have another thought as to what they are, send it to me!) ducklings were recently taken from a lake where they had probably been dumped after Easter. Sadly, people still persist in buying chicks and ducklings for “decoration” around Easter time. Then a week or two later, they are no longer seen as cute and are summarily dumped in any convenient lake or puddle to fend for themselves, which, unfortunately, they are NOT able to do. Please help pass the word that live animals are NEVER an appropriate gift unless the receiver knows what they’re getting and is prepared to make the long-term commitment to maintaining a live animal, regardless of the species.

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Another duck family

Another duck family

Mass release

Mom leads the troop down the bank (Photo by somebody else)

"I think we're gonna like it here!"

“I think we’re gonna like it here!” (Photo by somebody else)

On a more natural note, this mother mallard and her 12 ducklings hatched and were living in a backyard pool on the northwest side. The thoughtful owners fed them for 4 weeks and finally decided they needed their pool back so I went out there early one day recently and with the help of the family, apprehended the ducks. Within three days, Megan took them to another family up north who had expressed a desire for the water fowl and they now live in beautiful surroundings on Oak Creek!

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RTH fresh out of the egg

RTH fresh out of the egg

Less than two weeks later...

Less than two weeks later… (photo by Alex)

These fluffy babies are the products of a recent nest relocation for a power company by Nina and the Research and Conservation team. The two little red tails are being carefully raised in the office and the feather trailer until they are old enough to join their foster mom in the outside enclosure. Lots of camouflage and hand puppets are in use to prevent improper imprinting as the baby raptors are fed several times each day.

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A second chance...

A second chance… (photo by Barb Meding)

When birds come in for treatment, they sometimes have to spend an extended period at Liberty, depending on the injury. With migratory birds, this can become an even longer process if their recovery doesn’t coincide with the ongoing migration. In some cases, we have to hold the bird until the next passage of the flock, either north or south, to give the bird a chance to travel with the group. Recently Claudia took our young rehabbing Swanson’s hawk out to join hundreds of other Swainsons’ as they passed through Arizona. Melanie Herring got to do the honors and the bird landed in some trees nearby, preened for a while, then flew off to join the crowd of fellow travelers!

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And now, just some moments from this year’s Wishes for Wildlife!

The birds were all stars at W4W

The birds were all stars at W4W (photo by Kathy Edwards)

Buying raffle tickets can be fun! (photo by Kathy Edwards)

Buying raffle tickets can be fun! (photo by Kathy Edwards)

Chairpersons Bobi and Susie having a good time

Chairpersons Bobi and Susie having a good time

A great social event

A great event for socializing – and supporting wildlife! (photo by Kathy Edwards)

Peggy and Megan - who made it happen (photo by Kathy Edwards)

Peggy and Megan – who made it happen (photo by Kathy Edwards)

Julie Ann Wrigley gets ready to release an owl

Joe and Jan help Julie Ann Wrigley get ready to release the owl

The big moment of the evening

A great ending to a great event – a perfect release!

************************This Sunday is the Born to be Wild motorcycle event!  Go to Liberty Wildlife’s Facebook page OR www.twogalsevents.com for details!!********************************

 

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This Week @ Liberty – May 4, 2015

This Week @ Liberty

The total intake for the year is now at 1755.

TW@L and HHH, and a LOT of volunteers are recuperating this weekfrom Wishes for Wildlife (which was a GREAT event if you missed it…) so we’re still on a break from blogging. We’ll be back  on Monday, May 11th with the latest update.

Until then, here’s a little teaser that was shot yesterday…

Orphan baby barn owls arrive from Sierra Vista

 

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