Joe and Jan helped me assemble an above ground pond in my yard recently. It has become the source of great enthusiasm and pleasure for me. Pretty much all of my acre-sized yard is made up of mature desert plants that I love. They don’t demand much of me, draw in interesting desert animals and provide a coziness that only mature landscaping can do. My trees are shady, my cacti bloom brilliant blossoms and my water bill stays fairly sane year around.
However, tucked inside the walled part of my yard is a new performance art installation…my pond. It sports some native rush, but for the most part it is exotic. And, I can’t take my eyes off of it. The first stage was an empty container which was filled with water and allowed to sit for a week. I was thinking…hmmmmm what is going to become of this? Then with the addition of the first group of plants the performance art piece began to take form. The papyrus and calla lilies gave height and background. The large river rocks provided ballast and a place for roots to go. The bacopa spills over the side and presents me with charming, small white blossoms. I am in love.
In about a week came the piece de la resistance, the exotic water lily, a Lindsay field tropical lily with its stunning purple flowers that unlike my hardy cactus with a one day flower span, open and close several times during their lifetimes and spew their beauty all over the pond. But what I find so beguiling are the lily pads. I thought I understood lily pads, but I didn’t. They are other worldly to me…much like the rest of this exotic plant. In my horror dreams this lily pad could consume large animals and take over the world which is what it probably would do if left uncontained as mine is not and will never be. I am simply fascinated by everything about it, particularly, the way the leaves rise in a thin tubular point to unfurl slowly and showily like sentient beings to cover what was left of exposed water. The fish are yet to come.
But, one of the best parts of this whole adventure into a foreign territory is what it has done to tickle my sense of observation. I check it out first thing in the morning to see what it has done overnight. I am consciously observing all of the visitors to the pond. So far hummingbirds have been spotted, while honey bees, butterflies, and dragonflies are other frequent visitors. As my resident wildlife neighbors hone in on its presence I am quite sure I will see more and more activity. I can’t wait.
I have lived in my house since July, 1976 and have been a pretty consistent observer of the nature that abounds in my surroundings encouraged by me and the general terrain in the neighborhood. This foreigner has brought a new focal point that has awakened my powers of observation, and for that I am very grateful. I need to hasten to say, that this exotic will remain contained and not become a noxious neighbor. I promise. I am just wading in to inclusivity and diversity!
In the meantime I am remembering how great it is to take time to observe my world, and I would encourage each of you to look/see/sense the beauty around us…it does so inspire.
Have a safe and happy Halloween and don’t forget Birdies for Charity…go to www.libertywildlife.com. Now…thanks.
This Week @ Liberty
The intake total for the year is now at 4945.
This is the Halloween edition of TW@L…. time for zombie-selfies, spooky costumes for kids of all ages, and a few words of caution about the appropriateness of certain decorations. I’ve decided to go with the beauty of autumn in Arizona rather than ghosts, ghouls, and skeletons. A few more reptiles of the order Chelonia (er…Turtles!) found their way to Liberty as well as a couple of new injured avians. The work on the new facility nears as the road construction progresses as we prepare for the first event to take place at the property location.
Oil might be the most sought after commodity on the planet, but it’s no friend of most wildlife. This little male kestrel was brought in last week after somehow getting totally soaked in oil. The biggest problem with oil on birds is, among other things, the toxic effect of swallowing it. As the bird attempts to clean itself through preening, the substance is ingested and begins to affect the bird’s internal systems including thermal regulation. Then, as the animal is washed with detergent (Dawn), they become hyperthermic which adds to their stress. Unfortunately, despite all our efforts to save him, this little bird died while in the brooder in ICU.
Wrapping is standard treatment to immobilize an injured bone. From the tiny wing of an inca dove (top photo), to a bone spur on the heel of Dr. Tanya Wyman, the only thing that changes is the size and material of the wrap used to keep healing bones from becoming misaligned during the healing process. Hopefully both patients will be better soon – and get released!
Once again, we found ourselves the recipients of some former pet turtles. Someone brought three turtles to our window stating that these three were attacking her red eared slider and they had to go. After contacting James Badman, our go-to reptile expert, it was determined that these three were also red eared sliders. The three brought in were, however, very old and were males. The thought is that the one being “attacked” was probably a female and was the object of amorous advances by the old guys! In any event, we will place these non-native turtles with people who know the species and will take care of them properly. (Thanks for your help James!)
A white domestic duck was found recently with a plastic fishing bobber dangling from line hanging from it’s mouth. Volunteer Heidi Schaefer took the bird to Hillside Animal Hospital where she works and they performed an endoscopic procedure to remove the two hooks which showed up well in the x-ray. Once again, thanks to Heidi and Hillside Animal Hospital for saving this duck’s life. The bird is recuperating at Liberty and should be fine in a short time. Fishermen: Clean up after yourselves! Not all animals will be as lucky as this duck!
And while I’m on the subject of being careful what you leave in the environment, I have noticed a lot of the “fake spider web” Halloween decorations up this year. Throw in a couple of rubber spiders and you have a deadly lure for screech and other small owls and other insect eating birds. Many times in the past we have found and treated birds who were caught in the artificial filament while attempting to grab a rubber bug for a quick meal. Some were saved, others were not so fortunate. Please, think twice about buying and using this particular type of decoration as it can be fatal to hungry birds.
The work on Elwood is moving along! The sidewalks along the north side of the road are in and the cutouts for our entry drives have been poured. Next up will be the street lights. We’ll keep you posted on the progress as we approach the “Team Eagle Award and Release” event scheduled for next week.