This Week @ Liberty – September 15, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

A couple of things kept us busy last week…not really things that we should have been dealing with but sometimes odd things come with the turf.  Both of these activities were the result of uncaring people dumping non-native animals to become some caring person’s problem.

One incident concerns the dumping of three mutt ducks at a lake on the west side of town.  They were very nice ducks, very bonded ducks, very misplaced ducks. The lady that contacted us was terribly concerned because she felt like they were “crying” all of the time.  While I am not sure what that means, she perceived that they might not be able to feed themselves and were very unhappy with their new station in life.  She wanted them rescued and placed in a better situation.  Duck rescues facilities were full.  She contacted us.

ducksNow anyone who knows uninjured ducks knows that they are difficult to catch because, guess what, they swim, run, and fly….and at least one of those is out of our league and depending on the shape and agility of the rescuer the other two options can be a problem.  I speak for myself and long ago gave up trying to rescue water birds….too embarrassing for me and too frustrating for the birds and the other people watching.  Gratefully we do have some very capable people to do this….but in most cases dumped ducks do fine where they are and after much machinations the lady who called decided that she would watch over the ducks and try to keep them out of harm’s way.  That was undoubtedly the best solution.  The bottom line is….don’t get a duck if you don’t plan to keep it forever!

The second incident involved an amazingly caring gentleman who happened upon 8 youngRescue bunnies domestic bunnies who had been dumped in a wash in the North Mountain area near his home.  They were huddled together and terribly lost in their new and hostile surroundings.  There were no pellets, no water, no greens, and no protection from predators.  Their fate was caste until they were discovered.  The rescue garnered six of the eight bunnies.  He wasn’t sure what happened to the two that escaped his efforts, but it is fairly certain that they aren’t going to be as lucky as the remaining six.

He set them up in carriers for indoor housing and a portable dog pen that he moved around the yard during the day re-crating them in the house in the evening.  Then his frustration began.  He called all of the bunny rescue places in the valley and all of them were full.  How sad that there are that many unwanted “pets”.  A Facebook query sent him to our web site and ultimately to me.

In a flurry of activities, phone calls, pleas we were able to find a clinic and vet who would help us with the neutering which he generously suggested paying for.  Then we located a family with a desire to add to their domestic rabbit pet population (a truly fabulous placement.)  And, best of all we were able to help this very nice person who didn’t look the other way.

There should be more caring people like that.

This Week @ Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total is now at 4745. (I’m not reporting releases any more for this year as pretty much everything except the raptors have been released!)

Well, the intakes have dropped off considerably as the Baby Bird Season draws to a close. We had another HUGE rain storm as Hurricane Norbert grazed the west coast, and a couple of new intakes were of interest – for various reasons. Once again, non-native species seemed to top the list of stories that bear repeating, but their connection to individuals who care about wildlife tremendously, take action in spite of long odds, and learn from the experience gives us all hope for the future (see HHH above).

Let’s take a look at the week that was September 8, 2014…

Bumper owl continues to improve

Bumper owl continues to improve

The GHO that was brought in after being impaled on the grill and bumper of a car is steadily getting better.  His leg is healing as is his wing with great improvement to the head trauma he presented upon his arrival. His suitability for release is still in question, but his recovery is certainly headed in the right direction.

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Joanie handles a polydactyl swainson's

Joanie handles a polydactyl swainson’s

Man, that's a lot of toes!

Man, that’s a lot of toes!

Our good friend Christy vanCleve in Sierra Vista took in this Swainson’s hawk recently which I picked up from her in Tucson. The most interesting thing about this particular bird is the fact that he has twelve toes! Eight is the normal allotment, but this young bird seems to have a similar genetic mutation as a kestrel we saw a few months ago. Our suspicion is that both of these birds’ parents were exposed to some type of insecticide  causing this phenomenon. As both of these species consume large quantities of grasshoppers and other insects with an affinity for  agricultural areas, we are doing some research into what is going on with the environment here and in Argentina where the Swainson’s breed.

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Another zone-tail comes in

Another zone-tail comes in

An uncommon visitor

An uncommon visitor

We don’t see many zone-tail hawks here in Phoenix, and when one shows up, it’s cause for notice. They are more commonly found in arid, semi-open country, especially open deciduous or pine-oak woodland, often nesting in tall trees along streams. The Zone-tailed Hawk looks very similar in flight to Turkey Vultures, and it often flies with them. It has been suggested that the hawk is a mimic of the vulture and uses its similarity to sneak up on prey that is desensitized to the presence of vultures. Because of the extent of this bird’s wing injury, Rio, our current zone-tail ambassador, may possibly get some help on the Education Team.

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Hurricane Norbert contributes to the deluge (photo by Kim Marchiaroli)

Hurricane Norbert contributes to the record rainfall (photo by Kim Marcchiaroli)

Dr. Wyman and Joanie examine the injured harrier

Dr. Wyman and Joanie examine the injured harrier

Beautiful tail beginning to change

Beautiful tail beginning to change

His beak is still muddy

His beak is still muddy

Around 9PM in the evening following the millennial rain last week, I got a call from the hotline which sent me on an almost 100 mile rescue to Florence, dodging flooded roads and washes all the way. This kind woman had found this injured juvenile male northern harrier and had placed him in a cage. After carefully transferring the bird to a carrier, I drove him north, ultimately to Liberty where he was examined before treatment could begin. I knew from looking at him in the dark that his wing was severely broken near the shoulder but pour vets are wonderful and I hoped that even if he could not be released, perhaps they could pin the wing and he would make a good Educational bird. Under proper lights, the extent of the damage became apparent and my hopes faded. We waited until Dr. Wyman could examine him and she determined that the break had occurred many hours prior to my rescue. I watched as the vet-night team really tried to find some way to save the bird but the fracture of the humerus was catastrophic leaving the dead bones unrepairable and he was respectfully euthanized. Some might suggest that my long trip late at night was a waste of time, but I absolutely do not agree. As long as there is a chance to save an animal from dying alone, frightened, and in pain, I’m going to keep going. It may not have been the best of endings, but it was far from the worst it could have been.

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Orphan Care closes for 2014 (photo by Cindy Ziegler)

Only three left as Orphan Care closes for 2014 (photo by Cindy Ziegler)

This baby goldfinch is one of the last orphans to come in

This baby goldfinch is one of the last orphans to come in

“Orphan Care 2014″ is history!  The season officially ended last Sunday (yesterday) as only three little birds remained to fledge.  They will now be cared for by the Med Services team as we pack up brooders, incubators, and berry baskets until next spring – which is really not THAT far into the future! It was a great year and our heartfelt thanks goes out to all the OC volunteers who spent hours each day for months, dutifully feeding and caring for thousands of little peeping babies as they rapidly grew into joyful hummers, mockers, thrashers, doves of all types, and various LBBs around the state. The world is a better place because of the work you put in!

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"Rango" was our guest

“Rango” the bearded dragon was our guest

Who wouldn't love this face?

Who wouldn’t love this face?

A happy reunion

A happy reunion

"Rango" finally in his own home

“Rango” finally in his own home

OK, here’s another story for a future Disney movie. Somebody found this bearded dragon (a native of Australia) and he wound up at the Liberty facility recently.  Once again, we normally do NOT take in lost pets, especially non-native species like this, but he quickly became a popular visitor in the ICU. I’ll let Shannon, his owner , tell the story:

It was the end of July and Rango, our bearded dragon, was roaming in the yard when a friend stopped by with their new puppy. Needless to say Rango did not know what to think of the dog and took off. My boys ran in the house to get their shoes on and came back outside and searched for hours and could not find Rango. He had never left the backyard before in two years so we didn’t think to check out front that same day. The next morning and several mornings after we would search the neighborhood and could not find him. We passed out flyers with no luck. I called several locations asking if they got a bearded dragon in and again no luck. Seven weeks after he had been missing we finally got a call from Tammy (on the Liberty Hotline) who told us they found Rango. We had given up hope but we are very glad we got him back. We live at 35th Ave. and Union Hills and he was found at 30th St. and cactus floating in a swimming pool.
Thank you Liberty Wildlife for what you do.

For those of you without Googlemap, that’s over 10 miles!

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This Week @ Liberty – September 08, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

Every once in a while someone comes along who just innately gets it.  Matt is one of those people.  He clearly cares about the environment and birds in particular…that’s a point for him right off.  He is keenly aware of the avian wildlife in his world.  As a result of this interest he had built and installed a barn owl nest box on his property.  It attracted a pair of parent owls who promptly laid eggs and hatched three baby barn owls.  As luck would have it in mid-May conditions turned bad and the nest got in trouble.  One of the babies bailed out of the nest early.  When he explored the situation he found the baby on the ground, a dead baby in the nest and a third baby still in the nest.  He rescued the baby on the ground and brought it in to Liberty Wildlife.  It was found to be very dehydrated, depressed and thin.  Two days later he found the remaining baby on the ground with a cut on its head, dehydrated and thin.  It was brought in to Liberty and placed with the first sibling.  They looked pretty sad.

A brief reunion with his rescuer

A brief reunion with his rescuer

So, Matt was thrilled when he called to find out that the two he brought in, who had been at death’s door, were indeed thriving and going to be released.  As a photographer, he was thrilled even more when it was suggested that he participate in and document the release.  It was agreed that taking them to suitable habitat was better than returning them to his property where the parents would undoubtedly run them off.

And then we received this e mail from him:

A friend of mine saw a location on her drive home.  It is the north side of Queen Creek

Betty meets her owl

Betty meets her owl

between AZ Ave and McQueen.  It’s a farm with about 5 buildings, hay stacks, etc.  I drove by there on the way home tonight.  I loved it right away.  I rang the bell and met Betty.  

My guess is that she is in her eighties.  Her husband Bill, the foreman of the farm, was sick and could not come to the door.  She told me that she just lost her 60 year old son this past weekend.  I told her who I was and the release story and she smiled ear to ear.  I am going by again tomorrow and will take and send pictures.  You will love this place and Betty too.  I really hope this works out, Betty really needs a lift.  She started telling me of a GHO (great horned owl) from 30 years ago.  

When the subject of a barn owl nest box for Betty came up, here’s what Matt had to say:

“I built the box myself and have enough lumber to create a new one.  So instead of moving the old one, I will give it to Betty and build a new one for me.  I will have to scope out where to mount it.  Not an easy task because of the weight.  We will see.”

So, not only is Matt a good wildlife citizen, he is also a caring and thoughtful good human citizen.  The release is on for tonight (as I write this it is Sunday), and I can only imagine how thrilling this will be for Matt, Betty and her husband, and the lucky barn owls. I am sending my thanks and good wishes for all of those involved to the heavens on the silent wings of these two fortunate barn owls.

I wish every story had this kind of an ending!  Thanks Matt for happening in our lives!

This Week @ Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total for the year is now at 4690.  Released on 09-04: 2 grackles, 1 lesser nighthawk, 1 curved-bill thrasher, 5 Gila woodpeckers, 2 Gamble’s quail, 26 misc. doves.

A couple of interesting stories this week as we experience the highest one day rain total EVER at Sky Harbor. They are actually calling this a “1,000 year storm.” As Susie stated in her text to me updating the conditions at the facility this morning, “All is well here…DC does a great job!”  Our volunteers can handle just about anything.  The outing to the D’Back’s game was a fun time last week, the Tropicbird went home, and amidst the usual arrivals and rehabilitation efforts, two orphaned barn owls got to go free ahead of the storm. Not only did several birds leave us, but we bid a “farewell” to a long time valued volunteer who is also moving on to a new habitat…

Jenn Malnic on her last day at Liberty

Jenn Malnic on her last day at Liberty

Jennifer Malnic who has been a stellar volunteer for several years is moving on to cooler climates. She’s heading north to Oregon and her knowledgeable and expert service will be greatly missed. Carol Marshall bought one of our “Phoenix attacking” sweatshirts for her as she might actually get to use it in that climate. Good luck, Jenn, and keep in touch!

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Gayle feeds another cottontail baby

Gail feeds another cottontail baby

OK bunnies, listen up! You can STOP breeding now! Believe it or not, we are still getting baby cottontails at the window. All stereotypes about rabbits aside, the lagomorphs need to cool it! But as long as they come in, Liberty is here to care for the little orphans without regard for their questionable timing…

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Liberty enjoys the D-Backs game against the Rockies

Liberty enjoys the D-Backs game against the Rockies

Our ambassadors at Chase Field, pre-game

Our ambassadors at Chase Field, pre-game

Joe and Aurora on the Jumbo-tron!

Joe and Aurora on the Jumbo-tron!

Assuming you’ve seen the pop-up ads for the D-Backs tickets for the last few weeks, the event came off a week ago on Sunday with more than a dozen volunteers and supporters attending along with several of our Educational Ambassadors. As we walked around the stands on the way to our seats, we could overhear people talking about the owl, eagle, snakes, and other animals on display. During the National Anthem, Joe and Aurora were shown on the main Jumbo-tron above center field.  And the best part was that in addition to a donation from the club, the Diamondbacks won!

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Jan wraps the bumper owl

Jan wraps the bumper owl

Dark GHO spreads his wings

Dark GHO spreads his wings

The GHO that arrived after being impaled on a car grill is doing well. His leg and wing are healing and his head trauma is much improved. In addition, another young great horned owl presenting unknown injuries came in sporting very dark, beautiful plumage. Both of these owls have optimistic prognoses.

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Sara holds while Ed removes the band

Sara holds while Ed removes the band

"Once more into the breach...er, box!"

“Once more into the breach…er, box!”

Betty and her new friend

Betty and her new friend

"Have a great life!"

A perfect release

"Now, where are those mice?!"

“Now, where are those mice?!”

Matt says good-bye after a brief reunion

Saying “Farewell” after a brief reunion

Matt sends his orphan into a beautiful evening

Matt sends his orphan into a beautiful evening

Another great release

Another great release

Not much I can add to Megan’s story  (HHH above) except the pictures. Both Matt and Betty seemed to be very pleased to be able to complete the rescue of these two birds who lost their home last spring. A total success!

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Tropicbird prepares to head home

Tropicbird prepares to head home

Capt. Al gives the tropicbird a ride to San Diego (photo by US Airways crew)

Capt. Al gives the tropicbird a ride to San Diego (photo by US Airways crew)

As noted in the Aug 25th TW@L, I was able to arrange a trip to San Diego for the Red-billed tropicbird that came to us in August. US Airways is still providing wonderful support to Liberty Wildlife and the animals we take in by allowing the ones that need to travel to new homes (or back to their previous homes!) to ride on one of their scheduled flights. Capt. Al Medina and his crew were nice enough to allow the bird to “jumpseat” to San Diego where he was picked up by SeaWorld San Diego for final examination and transport to release.

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This Week @ Liberty – Sept 01, 2014

Chillin' on Labor Day

Chillin’ on Labor Day

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.)

 

 

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This Week @ Liberty – August 25, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

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 meganm@libertywildlife.org 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.

This Week @ Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

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….

Marilyn is now spending her days outside - when it's not pouring rain!

Marilyn is now spending her days outside – when it’s not pouring rain!

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!

This BCNH looks like he just came from DSW...

This BCNH looks like he just came from DSW…

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.

Bumper owl improves

Bumper owl improves

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 tiny barn owl arrives for care

A tiny barn owl arrives for care

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.

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Red-billed tropicbird is visiting from far south

Red-billed tropicbird is visiting from far south

He's a handsome juvenile bird who needs to go home

He’s a handsome juvenile bird who needs to go home

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.

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Little fox arrives with unknown injuries

Little fox arrives with unknown injuries

Anesthetic is applied (photo by Toba)

Anesthetic is applied (photo by Toba)

Blood is drawn for testing (photo by Toba)

Blood is drawn for diagnostic testing (photo by Toba)

Dr. Wyman checks a paw (photo by Toba)

Dr. Wyman checks a paw (photo by Toba)

"Time to wake up" (photo by Toba)

“Time to wake up” (photo by Toba)

Back into the safety of the carrier (photo by Toba)

Back into the safety of the carrier (photo by Toba)

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.

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The storm begins at 12:20PM

The storm begins at 12:20PM

A desert tortoise is rescued

One of our tortoises is rescued

"At least it's dry in here!"

“At least it’s dry in here!”

The high water mark is reached within 90 minutes

The high water mark is reached within 90 minutes

Dr. Orr's front yard

Dr. Orr’s front yard

"Lake Liberty" - our parking lot after the water began to recede.

“Lake Liberty” – our parking lot after the water had actually been receding for almost an hour.

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.

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This Week @ Liberty – August 18, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

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 lizard

Spiny lizard

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.

Horned lizard

Horned lizard

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.

This Week @ Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

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…

Post surgery slider

Post surgery slider

High tech patches with an opening to allow internal healing

High tech patches with an opening to allow internal healing

An elaborate bandage for a unique injury

An elaborate bandage for a unique injury

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.

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Yet another damaged shell

Yet another damaged shell

Everybody watches closely while Jan cleans the wounded area

Everybody watches closely while Jan cleans the wounded area

Was he "hammered" by someone? The hole looks suspicious

Was he “hammered” by someone? The hole looks suspicious

Dr. Wyman examines the damage

Dr. Wyman examines the damage

The toroise gets a bandage prior to surgery by Dr. Driggers

The toroise gets a protective bandage prior to surgery by Dr. Driggers

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.

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Grilled Great Horned

“Grilled Great Horned” (photo by Shane Crabtree)

 

The next day he looks better

The next day he looks better

"I've been through a lot!"

“I’ve been through a lot!”

"Thanks for being there, Doc"

“Thanks for being there, Doc”

Dr. Wyman examines the injured eye

Dr. Wyman examines the injured eye

A little food always helps

A little food always helps

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.

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This Week @ Liberty – August 11, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

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.

The view from the entrance

The view from the entrance

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.

This Week @ Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

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…

1,020 feet of 12 ft Trex lumber

1,020 feet of 12 ft Trex lumber

Another 1,210 feet of 16ft Trex

Another 1,210 feet of 16ft Trex

 

 

 

 

 

 

Debra Gonzales at Uhaul in Lake Havasu

Debra Gonzales at Uhaul in Lake Havasu

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!!!

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Laura checks a barn owl brought in by Carl Price

Laura checks a barn owl brought in by Carl

Carl holds while Laura and Jan wrap

Carl holds while Laura and Jan wrap

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.

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Waiting for his sibling to arrive

Waiting for his sibling to arrive

"Don't rush me!!" - Pipping nighthawk egg

“Don’t rush me!!” – Pipping nighthawk egg

Second Nighthawk baby arrives - that's a dime for scale!

Second Nighthawk baby arrives – that’s a dime for scale!

Sibling nighthawks

Sibling nighthawks

Little white toenails

Little white toenails

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.

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Ted brings in a GHO tangled in barbed wire

Ted brings in a GHO tangled in barbed wire (Photo by Susie Vaught)

The initial exam

The initial exam (photo by Susie Vaught)

A closer look at a nasty injury

A closer look at a nasty injury (photo by Susie Vaught)

Toba holds for Dr. Wyman

Toba holds for Dr. Wyman (photo by Susie Vaught)

Dr. Wyman does some suturing (photo by Susie Vaught))

Dr. Wyman does some suturing (photo by Susie Vaught)

Tim holds as Jan wraps (photo by Susie Vaught)

Tim holds as Jan wraps (photo by Susie Vaught)

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)

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This Week @ Liberty – August 04, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

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.

This Week @ Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

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…

Manuela feeds yet another orphan bunny

Manuela feeds yet another orphan bunny

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.

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Marilyn is getting bigger

Marilyn is getting bigger

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.

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Headed for the eye doctor

Headed for the eye doctor

Injured cooper's has a meal

Injured cooper’s has a meal

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.

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Barn owl from Sierra Vista

Barn owl from Sierra Vista

Nicole and Lori examine a raven from the San Pedro

Nicole and Lori examine a raven from the San Pedro

Lori listens for respiratory problems

Lori listens for respiratory problems

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.

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Cleaning up a day before release

“We’re going home!!” (photo by Nina Grimaldi)

After weeks, the big moment arrives (photo by Brian at SRPMIC)

After weeks, the big moment arrives (photo by Brian at SRPMIC)

"This doesn't look like the enclosure..." (photo by Brian at SRPMIC)

“This doesn’t look like the enclosure…” (photo by Brian at SRPMIC)

"WOW! This is cool!" (photo by Brian at SRPMIC)

“WOW! This is cool!” (photo by Brian at SRPMIC)

The healthy raccoon family goes free (photo by Brian at SRPMIC)

The healthy raccoon family goes free (photo by Brian at SRPMIC)

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!

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Dick Fry helps with the tour

Dick Fry, our Project Manager, helps with the tour

The construction people and the architects get a look at what our operation looks like.

The construction people and the architects get a look at what our operation looks like.

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.

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Barbara Jabara, Jason Greff, Christy van Cleve and Frida the burrowing owl (photo by Craig Fischer)

Donna Jabara, Jason Greff, Christy van Cleve and Frida the burrowing owl (photo by Craig Fischer)

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.

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Don’t forget to purchase your Diamondback tickets!!!

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This Week at Liberty – July 28, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

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!DB logo2.0
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!

This Week at Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

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…

Another cute accitpiter

Another cute accipiter

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.

Why do little mockers always look so angry?

Why do little mockers always look so angry?

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 struts her stuff

Marilyn struts her stuff

“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.”

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Little girl kestrel grows up

Little girl kestrel grows up

Shroeder-Thomas splint

Young cooper’s hawk with a Shroeder-Thomas splint

Dr. Wyman treats a young RTH

Dr. Wyman treats a young RTH

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.

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Fosters getting ready for release

Fosters getting ready for release

Flight practice

Flight practice

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!

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Gopher snake goes on walkabout

Gopher snake goes on walkabout

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.

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"All you can eat buffet"

“All you can eat buffet”

They seem to like it

“Do we have to go gamble now?”

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.

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Yawning gopher snake

Yawning gopher snake

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!

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We have flies so big...they stay in cages!

We have flies so big…they stay in cages!

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!

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"Do not suspect that we are NOT eagles!"

“Do not suspect that we are NOT eagles!”

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!

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The property is surveyed for construction

The property is surveyed for construction

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.

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This Week at Liberty – July 21, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

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.

TO PURCHASE TICKETS:

Click on the image below and enter the promo code: LIBERTY

DB logo

*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 dingold@dbacks.com.

Five Simple Steps to Order your D-backs Tickets:

    1. Click on the logo (or here) and search for tickets by selecting the game of your choice located on the event page.
    2. Enter your special offer code: LIBERTY and click to verify
    3. Search for tickets based upon quantity and price.  You will have the ability to select the best seats available (blue sections & blue dots).
    4. Access the offer by creating your own personal account and password (unless you already have a D-backs Ticketmaster account)
    5. Complete transaction and print your tickets – no need to wait in line or pick up your tickets elsewhere.

This Week at Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

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!

Work progresses on "Eagleville" in the east forty...

Work progresses on the eagle area in the east forty…

As Justin Timberlake might say on SNL, "Bring it on down to Eagleville!!

As Justin Timberlake might say on SNL, “Bring it on down to Eagleville!!

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.

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"Reptiles at the Rails" 2014 (photo by Ellen J. D. Roberts - VCRR)

“Reptiles at the Rails” 2014 (photo by Ellen J. D. Roberts – VCRR)

Kids loved the desert tortoises at the VCRR display (photo by Ellen J. D. Roberts - VCRR)

Kids loved the interactive desert tortoises at the VCRR display (photo by Ellen J. D. Roberts – VCRR)

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.

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Spiny lizard with horse induced injury

Spiny lizard with horse induced injury

Beautiful scale coloration

Beautiful scale coloration

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.

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John inside the grate (photo by Balinda)

John inside the grate (photo by Balinda)

The trapped "bird" at the end of the tunnel (photo by John)

The trapped “bird” at the end of the tunnel (photo by John)

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!)

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Temporary visitor

Temporary visitor

Beaver getting assessed

Beaver getting assessed

It takes a lot of people to handle a rodent this big

It takes a lot of people to handle a rodent this big

Chewing on the towel

Chewing on the towel

The famously impressive tail

The famously impressive tail

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!

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Fire hydrants are in

Fire hydrants are in – looking west from 28th street.

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!

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This Week at Liberty – July 14, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

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!

This Week at Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

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…

Left on our doorstep

Left on our doorstep

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!

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Ornate box turtle

Ornate box turtle

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…

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Baby jackrabbit

Baby jackrabbit

Yellow warbler

Townsend’s warbler

New R&T volunteer Paul Dean's first rescue

New R&T volunteer Paul Dean’s first rescue

Baby kestrel gets some food

Baby kestrel gets some food

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.

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Baby quail in a basket

Baby quail in a basket

Getting weighed

Getting weighed

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.

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Loving the meal worms

Loving the meal worms

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.

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New recruits get "oriented."

New recruits get “oriented.”

Carol leads the tour for prospective volunteers

Carol leads the tour for prospective volunteers

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.

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Night snake

Night snake

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.

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Screech owl condo

Screech owl condo (photo by Claudia Kirscher)

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.

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