This Week @ Liberty – August 31, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

Last week I wrote about releases…proper ones as opposed to not so proper ones.  This week I want to talk about fun releases…releases that you might think aren’t so cool.  And, you would be thinking so wrong.

The “cool” releases are often thought to be the raptors, the big guys at the top of the food chain.  And, indeed, they are very cool…and very brief.  Releasing an eagle or great horned owl go back into the wild is like being part of an “I am so out of here” burst of furious feathered energy.  They want no part of us and in general make a hasty bolt to the farthest spot away from the human captors.  It is impressive.  In my experience the one exception to this is the American kestrel who on many occasions circles the release spot shrieking its kee kee kee sounds which could mean “thank you very much” but probably really means “catch me if you can!”

I have participated in two releases this season that stand out to me as just plain fun and special.  The first was a release of a mallard duck family that had been “rescued” from the backyard pool of a kind but weary family who thought it was so cute at first but when the pool is fouled along with the rest of the yard, the cuteness wears thin and a rescue is called for. (As an aside, we suggest this duck-nesting-in-the-yard behavior be nipped in the bud.) However, when it is necessary it is always best if the mother can be captured with the babies, and that was the case with this trusting duck family.  They were relocated in a

Dusks released in Oak Creek

Ducks released in Oak Creek

fabulous spot along Oak Creek.  When they were freed from the carrier they went, yes, like ducks to the water, where they preened, dove, fed, preened, dove, swam to the islands, preened, fed, dove and eventually regrouped in a little duck regatta swimming in unison up and down the creek.  They were jubilant!  And, they are still in the same area, still an intact family, still swimming up and down the creek.

The other really delightful release was that of a covey of quail.  This year we raised a whole lot of quail babies…some from eggs, some from tiny fledglings, some a bit older.  They seem to be one of rescuers favorite subjects probably because they seem so vulnerable as they are on the run soon after hatching.  There is no time spent in the nest being coddled by mom and dad.  They are born to run, and they must keep up.  Often well-meaning rescuers nab a little one who seems abandoned and bring it in to us to finish raising.  Sometimes it is necessary and sometimes it isn’t but by the time we get them they are ours to raise.

When they are released they do the most fun things.  They seem less horrified at their human releasers and after a momentary flutter away from the carrier, they are often seem coming out of hiding and finding the most available loose dirt where they dust bathe with wild abandon.  It is almost like a need to get human cooties off of them—right now! So they flutter in the dirt, flapping their wings to get complete coverage and then shake it all out…cooties and all, of course.  In between dust baths they dive into the feeding frenzy and peck at the ground searching for any food available.  They are mesmerizing and adorable.

Unlike the raptor burst of escape energy, the ducks and quail provide a nice show for anyone who will take the time to enjoy it.  I highly recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity.  They may not be at the top of the food chain, in fact, quite the opposite, but they are totally endearing and worthy of a second chance.

This Week @ Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The total intakes for the year have reached 5851.

The heat is unrelenting this month, and I spent most of the week fighting with recalcitrant plumbing and obstreperous air conditioners. We’re all just trying to keep this place together until we move to the new facility but sometimes it feels like a losing battle. the bottom line is I was so busy I didn’t have a chance to get many photos of the Vet Night activities so, lacking that, I thought I’d take this opportunity to post some of the cool photos that the volunteers have sent me the past few weeks and months. I don’t even know who sent some of them so if I don’t give you proper credit, I apologize. Here we go…

"How hot was it?"

“How hot was it?”  (photo by Jan)

You know it’s REALLY hot when the turkey vultures are on the ground sitting in the shade under a tree in the park! Normally, you see a squad of TVs either in a tree with wings spread to acquire heat(!), or flying in circles making use of the heat from the desert floor which provides thermals supporting their gliding flight.  Jan took this one day recently.

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The great black out of 2015

Marilyn and Rena press on during the great black out of 2015 (photo by Lesley)

Jesse keeps working

Jesse keeps working in the ICU (photo by Lesley)

On Tuesday morning, the A/C unit in the ICU gave up the ghost. It was replaced Wednesday morning but by Thursday morning, the second unit was also dying. When it went, it took the circuit breaker with it causing a power outage around 6:30AM. The stalwart volunteers kept working, making the best of a dark situation until the electrician came soon after and diagnosed the problem. Smooth sailing then…uh, not really…

Pipe failure flood

Lori mans the buckets during the pipe failure flood (photo by Kim)

Also on Tuesday morning one of the Daily Care hose bibs broke and briefly flooded the enclosure aisle. Again, the volunteers took it in stride until it was rapidly capped, and later repaired permanently. If we can just hold this place together another few months….!!

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Cuckoo improves (photo by Susie)

Cuckoo improves (photo by Susie)

The little yellow billed cuckoo is growing faster than you can imagine and will probably be released by the time this is posted. His leg is almost entirely healed and he will be taken back to the dedicated habitat for his species.

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The big moment approaches

The big moment approaches (photo by Dave Brunn)

Doves go free! (photo by somebody)

Marilyn  says good-bye as a couple of her orphan doves go free! (photo by Dave Brunn)

Releases are always fast, but fun! Last week OC and R&T volunteers Marilyn and Dave Brunn got to release a few of the baby doves for whom they were caring just days before. The smile tells the whole story!

And speaking of releases, here’s a short video of a friend of Nina’s releasing one of our (over 70!) orphaned great horned owls from this year! (Click here) GHO

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Hatching GBH (photo by Susie)

Hatching GBH (photo by Susie)

A couple months ago Susie sent me this picture of a great blue heron at the moment of hatching. Our super-whiz-bang high-tech incubator gives not only the proper amount of heat, but also controls the humidity and provides the desired rotation for best results. This is one of the birds Megan mentioned in HHH last week.

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A heart on her head!

A heart on Rosie’s head!

The volunteers thought this picture taken by Kim was worth posting – it shows Rosie, one of our education gila monsters, displaying a heart shaped arrangement of beads on her head.

Amyra cuts a gopher snake free

Amyra and Scott cut a gopher snake free (photo by Kim)

A great shot of Amyra assisted by Scott carefully cutting a garden net that had entrapped a gopher snake. This is not the first time this has happened and we hope people don’t feel so afraid of snakes that when they find one in trouble, they don’t call for help.

Stacey feeds a baby raccoon

Stacey feeds a baby raccoon (photo by Amyra)

"Could I be any cuter?"

“Could I be any cuter?” (photo by Amyra)

A few weeks ago we got in some baby raccoons which needed TLC from our volunteers. Stacey seems to be enjoying the opportunity to bottle feed this little guy before he was transferred. We will be keeping most of the mammals when we move to the new facility as space for them is in the plans.

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The construction update:

The construction trailer is now up

The construction trailer is now up

The dirt guys are going to town!

The dirt guys are going to town!

The sign goes up

The sign goes up

Tell the world!

Tell the world!

It’s coming, folks! Don’t let anybody tell you different!

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This Week @ Liberty – August 24, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

This time of year is all about releases, and it is one of the best times of our year .  It seems like the “pat on the back, good job done”, doesn’t have to come to us verbally…it comes to us with the successful release of the animals that have been put in our care.  As I have said, each one of those animals came with at least one human who cared enough to take the time and effort to see that the animal got good care.

And, the good care isn’t complete until the animal is successfully released back into the wild.   Our policy is to try to take the animal back to the area it came from.  If that isn’t possible, if the habitat is degraded too much for the animals to survive then we seek another area that provides all of the things the animal will need.  That, however, isn’t the only other consideration.  It is very important for us to be sure we aren’t introducing an animal into an area that has a sensitive species our releasee might interfere with.  It would be harmful to release a bird eating raptor into an area where threatened or endangered birds were located.  That just makes no sense.

Heron nest near stilling well at Roosevelt Dam - Chris Cliburn photo - Copy

Heron nest

Siblings

Siblings at Liberty

Recently we participated in the release of two great blue herons that came to us as eggs.  They were found in a nest that was on a piece of equipment owned by SRP at Roosevelt Lake.  The equipment was by necessity checked at least twice a day resulting in a disturbance each time.  The nest would have failed. As there was no place safe in the area to move the nest to, it was decided that the eggs would come to Liberty to be hatched and raised to fledgling age.  Following our basic rule, the fledglings were brought back to their natal area and released.  It was a huge success thanks to the quick actions of SRP.

Heron release

Heron release

DSC_3726

Egret release

Another release of water birds happened on Oak Creek a few weeks ago.  These egrets were brought in as babies and came from an area to which they could not be returned.  We looked into other areas and found a perfect spot.  Another successful release ensued.

Another example of a successful, if not traditional, release was a year or so back.  We were the temporary caretakers of a young golden eagle that fell from its nest.  After injuries were addressed it was decided that the best thing to do would be to take it to an area that biologists knew had a newly fledged golden eagle of similar age.  It wasn’t our eagle’s family.  Immediately after being placed in the new nest, it fledged again (it was time) and hung around.  The interesting thing is that the adult eagles allowed him to stay in the area benefiting from their teachings of their own chick.  A wild foster…we have done this with younger bald eagles but never with a fledgling golden.  This was another huge success with the help of eagle biologists at Game and Fish. That young golden has made it through the dangerous early years and is actively moving around the state.

As the summer ends and the babies are released we know that they will have to win a territory of their own, no matter if they fledged from their actual nests or if they were assisted by us.  True success is released wildlife that fits in, finds a territory, successfully finds a mate and doesn’t disturb, but rather maintains the balance.

This Week @ Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total for this year is now at 5769.

Everybody is ready for the summer to be over, and yet the babies still keep coming in! Another week-old barn owl just arrived, and an immature turkey vulture was brought in. We are beginning to release the orphan crop from this year, and one of our long-time volunteers also flew to freedom! Work begins on the site of our new facility and the education season starts to gear up with an art show in Tempe. It all happened this week @ Liberty…!

OMG! Another week old barn owl baby!

OMG! Another week old barn owl baby!

As Vizzini said in The Princess Bride, “INCONCEIVABLE!!” Our friend Sandy Anderson down on the San Pedro River sent us this week old barn owl baby who somehow escaped his nest last week. Just when our foster parents were feeling good about being through for the year…! Oh well, there’s always room for one more baby owl!

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Alex and Amyra work on a GSW red tail

Alex and Amyra work on a GSW red tail (photo by Balinda)

The pellet is removed

The pellet is removed

So as if first year red tail hawks don’t face enough in their fight to survive, this little kid has  to get shot with a pellet gun! John and Balinda rescued him from a backyard in Maryvale and took him to the ICU. Alex and Amyra removed the projectile and now he is awaiting X-rays to see if there are any more. As a migratory raptor, this and all hawks are protected by federal law and shooting them is a federal crime that can be prosecuted by the USFW.

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Birds in Tempe Art Center

Birds in Tempe Art Center (photo by Tempe Center for the Arts)

Craig and Anne present for the crowd

Craig and Anne present for the crowd (photo by Tempe Center for the Arts)

Liberty Wildlife has spread its wings into the local art scene this summer, participating in the “Birds of a Feather” exhibition at the beautiful Tempe Center for the Arts This three-month art show features the work of several area artists including our own Anne Peyton. In addition, Anne has taught two drawing sessions for kids (and anyone older who felt the calling to pick up pencil and paper), with the help of our avian ambassadors and Education team members Carol, Donna and Craig. Liberty Wildlife also presented at a recent Friday Lifelong Learning event, showcasing six of our ambassadors that live “wild in the city.” If you haven’t been to the TCA, located on Tempe Town Lake, to see the free art exhibit, there’s still time. The show runs through Sept. 19. Tell them Liberty sent you. – story by Craig Fischer.

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Corey holds a goose for Tim and Jan

Corey holds a goose for Tim and Jan

Jan and Susie examine a young TV

Jan and Susie examine a young TV

A nighthawk gets a wrap

A nighthawk gets a wrap

The medical work at Liberty goes on regardless of the season or the weather. The volunteers are trained by Jan Miller and after several weeks of class work and hands-on practice, they all work a shift where actual experience is obtained working with the injured animals under the supervision of a vet or CVT.

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The pintail duck has a fractured wing

The pintail duck has a fractured wing

The pintail duck has been x-rayed and it was discovered it had fractured both the radius and the ulna in one wing. The next step is surgery with possible pinning to align and hold the bones while they heal. I’ll try to keep you updated as the bird progresses.

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Measuring the cuckoo

Measuring the cuckoo (photo by Susie)

Yellow billed cuckoo

Yellow billed cuckoo (photo by Ana Ramirez)

Since the yellow billed cuckoo was brought to us by one of the Cuckoo Project co-leaders, the bird is being measured and weighed every day as it rapidly grows. The cuckoo – a relative of the road runner – is not uncommon back east, but out here in the west it is rare and considered either threatened or endangered. Habitat protection is critical and extraordinary efforts are being made to preserve a core colony where ever possible. Liberty is more than happy to be a part of providing this pretty little bird the protection it needs.

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A Nashville warbler pays a visit

A Nashville warbler comes in  (photo by Alex)

Last week a Nashville warbler came in presenting a head trauma. This small warbler is fairly common in both the east and the west, often seen foraging in thickets and young trees, flicking its short tail frequently as it seeks insects among the foliage. Pioneer birdman Alexander Wilson encountered this bird first near Nashville, Tennessee, and it has been called Nashville Warbler ever since – even though Wilson’s birds were just passing through on migration, and the species does not nest anywhere near Tennessee. Sadly, the pretty little bird did not survive his injuries.

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The weekly gallery…

"I won't forget this..."

“I won’t forget this…”

A western screech owl has that look about him – total humiliation at treatment in the ICU!

The Friday morning crew says goodbye to Corey

The Friday morning crew says goodbye to Corey (with the beard!)

Volunteer Corey Shaw had his last day on Friday. He is going back to school to study Wildlife Conservation Management.

"TAKE ME WITH YOU COREY!!!"

“TAKE ME WITH YOU COREY!!!”

One of our orphan squirrels nears release…

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Click here for a lighthearted video showing progress on the new facility site.

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This Week @ Liberty – August 17, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

megan at the site

Megan Mosby, Executive Director

I am going to step out on a limb and talk about a very controversial topic, pigeons.  There aren’t many people who don’t have an opinion on this oft maligned feathered entity. (I invite you to read The Fascinating Saga of the World’s Most Revered and Reviled Bird by Andrew Blechman). On one extreme we have the non-native, rat with wings contention and at the other extreme we have the pigeon fanciers who breed, show and race pigeons as a life-long hobby.  Somewhere in between there lives the “live and let live” delegation.  I am not going to make a stand because no one really cares what I think about it, but when someone brings in a pigeon in need of care we haven’t been very good at turning them away.  Here is a case in point.  Know that it is rarely only about the animal.

A young tyke brought in a pigeon accompanied by a letter written to us.  If you could have turned this adorable child away, you have a tougher heart than those of us at Liberty Wildlife.  See the letter below.

pegin letter 1 2

(click image for full size picture)

 

pegin letter 1 4

(click image for full size picture)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, there often seems to be a dearth of compassion in the world.  I find myself going on temporary news black outs to stave off the depression caused by current events.  But, it is young people like this that give me hope.  A huge part of our educational message is about teaching compassion through the work that we do.

We are proudly diverse in our intake of animals.  We have had the skills to care for over 145 different native species.  And, as the current saying goes, “All lives matter.” Remember, that with each animal brought to us there is at least one caring human who appreciates getting the best care possible for the animal they have taken time to help.

We pride ourselves in serving as a great community resource for much of your nature needs.  At Liberty Wildlife we provide one stop shopping for wildlife assistance, for educational opportunities, and conservation issues for you and for future generations.

We will only be able to do more at our new campus of conservation, education, rehabilitation and sustainability.  Stay tuned.

This Week @ Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total for the year has reached 5670.

The numbers just keep growing, and the animals keep getting the best care available. From bunnies to tortoises, from warblers to eagles, we don’t discriminate by size or species: if it needs help, we will provide it!  A couple of cool birds showed up this week (along with the usual suspects – great horned owls, roadrunners, black-crowned night herons, etc.) and I highlighted those below. The big news is that after some 35 years in Dr. Orr’s backyard, work has finally begun on the permanent campus of Liberty Wildlife! A short (very short!) slide show/video is coming for those who weren’t there. Don’t feel bad, it was at 7:30 this morning and it was already 97 degrees – and humid! Thanks for all those who stuck with us and made it possible! Now let’s look at this past week…

Baby bunnies still come in

Baby bunnies still come in

So we all know the jokes about rabbits and their breeding proclivities, and well, they’re all true. Even now, late in the summer when it’s well over 110 in the afternoon, we are still taking in baby cottontails and jackrabbits. I doubt it will stop any time soon – or ever.

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Another threasher in another glue trap

Another threasher in yet another glue trap

I guess another thing that will never stop is  birds and other non-targeted animals getting caught in glue traps. These devices are TERRIBLE and should never be used outside in an area where animals can be attracted to them. I’m not sure what the real targets are, and no matter what you’re trying to eliminate, no living thing deserves this kind of horrible death. This curved-bill thrasher was finally unstuck from the tacky surface and will now spend a few months growing his feathers back after his close encounter of the viscous kind.

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Baby heron is examined by Dr. Becker

Baby heron is examined by Dr. Becker

A special dye is used to check for injury

A special dye is used to check for injury

Dr. Becker inspects an eye graft

Dr. Becker inspects an eye graft

It seems we have been getting in a lot of birds with eye problems of late so it’s a good thing our vets are trained in assessing this type of injury. This little black-crowned night heron had a tear in his third eyelid while the GHO had a skin graft over one eye which required some re-evaluation. We do still have our eye specialists for advanced help when the birds need care at that level.

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Christy's owl gets examined

Christy’s owl gets examined

Before going outside, barn owl becomes "Orange 8"

Before going outside, barn owl becomes “Orange 8″

Sharon handles the paperwork and the tag

Sharon handles the paperwork and the tag

Christy vanCleve sent us another barn owl last week who was experiencing some difficulties flying. The pretty dark bird was evaluated and moved to an outside flight enclosure as “Orange 8″ which puts him one step closer to release. As always, proper records are essential (and required under law) and Sharon was the record keeper/tag maker last week for this bird.

Joanie bring out a young RTH

Joanie bring out a young RTH

Dr. Wyman and Susie examine a GHO

Dr. Wyman and Susie examine a GHO

Dr. Wyman wraps the GHO with Jan and Susie

Dr. Wyman wraps the GHO with Jan and Susie

Teal might be his color

Teal might be his color

Red tails and great horned owls are the most common raptors in North America so it’s no surprise we get a lot of them in each year. With a full staff of vets on Tuesday afternoon, these birds get the very best treatment which leads to our enviable release rate despite the unbelievable numbers of patients we have taken in already this year.

The first roadrunner for Dr. Becker

The first roadrunner for Dr. Becker

Our newest volunteer veterinarian, Dr. Becker, got to handle her very first roadrunner last week. Dr. Becker seemed excited about getting to work on this new species for her, and the bird, although not entirely thrilled to be in this position, was given the greatest treatment of its life and is doing well!

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A pretty Grace's warbler visits

A pretty Grace’s warbler visits

We don’t get a lot of warblers in each year, but when we do, it’s a minor event. This little Grace’s warbler came in last week with a possible coracoid injury he suffered while migrating through the valley. This species was first found in Arizona in 1864 by a young man, Elliott Coues, who named it after his sister. It is common to higher elevation pine forests and has a pretty little song: (click here.)

Week old yellow billed cuckoo

Week old yellow billed cuckoo

Yes, that’s right: the pictured bird is one week old! Yellow-billed Cuckoos have one of the shortest nesting cycles of any bird species. From the start of incubation to fledging can take as little as 17 days. Although born naked, the young birds develop quickly; within a week of hatching the chicks are fully feathered and ready to leave the nest. They are not uncommon back east and are related to the great roadrunner! This little guy has a broken leg and will be cared for by Med Services until ready for release.

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OK, for all those who thought this day would never arrive, the dirt at the site of the new facility is moving!

It's official!

It’s official!

The property is scraped for construction

The property is scraped for construction

This morning the crews began real work on the site of the new Liberty Wildlife permanent campus at 2600 East Elwood in Phoenix. Even last week people were asking if I thought we’d actually ever have a new home, and now it’s beginning to come together for all to see. For a short video/slide show, click here.

 

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This Week @ Liberty – August 10, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

Riding my bike along the canal yesterday morning I ran into a sight I see all too often.  There were flocks of birds in a feeding frenzy along the banks.  Ducks mostly of the mallard kind, pigeons, grackles, and doves to name a few were madly picking at the ground scarfing up leavings from well-meaning people.  Scattered a distance up and down the bank of the canal was a questionable treat of white bread, crumbled and cubed.  In between the bread was a movie theater full of popcorn.  Arrrrrrrrrrrgh!

Now I am not totally convinced that either of these offerings is good for people, but I am totally sure that this is a bad selection of food to leave for ducks and other birds.  Bread is not digestable by birds.  It causes sour crop among other things.  It provides no nutrition so it just sits there yeasting or whatever actually happens when it can’t pass normally through the system.  As for the popcorn, there may be some nutritional value but salted isn’t a good idea and nasty little unpopped corn can’t be a good thing for birds either.  Filling up on non-nutritional food may mean less consumption of nutritional food found in their natural habitat.

I have often stopped when I see people with their paper bags full of leftovers spreading them along the banks to tell them that it isn’t a good idea.  I am pretty sure they talk about me behind my back, and I think I have even heard disparaging names shouted after me having to do with being a killjoy…oh well.

I try to make teachable moments when I can.  For those that really care I suggest that they can very inexpensively by chicken scratch or turkey crumbles which would actually be nutritionally good for the birds.  I don’t often see either of these food choices spread about, but I insist on believing that I don’t see them because the flocks of varied bird species have already devoured them with a smile.

I feel the need to take every opportunity to “train” the new bird feeders on the canal that I am not being a spoil sport, but that I am doing everything I can to make the thoughtful experience a good one for everyone…the ducks, the grackles, the doves, the pigeons and the caring public.

Despite all of my good intentions, I even find cubed white bread in my fountains.  I made a study out of the mystery only to find a visiting grackle coming to the fountain with a beak-full of bread (carried in from a yard other than mine) to soften it before devouring it.

I have a huge job to do….but it is baby steps or one small step for ducks and grackles or one large leap for bird-dom.  Sigh!

This Week @ Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake Total for this year is now up to 5473.

The summer wears on and the work continues. I swing by the site of the new facility almost daily to check on the progress which seems painfully slow to me as we have been waiting for this for over thirty years now. But, patience will be rewarded and the fencing will go up this week! In the meantime, the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned animals continues, as does the education efforts of Liberty Wildlife. We are also busy putting together this year’s issue of Wing Beats, our annual magazine, and we’re also beginning to plan for the volunteer picnic later on in the Fall. All this adds up to a busy time even as the “slow period” of the year approaches.

New bald eagle kid

THIS is the new bald eagle…

To quote Rick Perry during the 2012 debates, “OOPS!” Last week I posted a picture of what I thought was the new bald eagle brought in by AZGFD. I got the wrong bird! My bad? The bird that arrived with the dislocated wing is this first-year juvenile who is now under our care. It appears the eagle might not be releasable as her ability to fly is seriously in doubt. The wing injury may have been caused by a fall from the nest or an unfortunate crash during an early flight resulting in what we call a “Bad fledge.” We’ll keep you posted on her progress.

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Juvenile Western flycatcher

Juvenile Western flycatcher

And on the other end of the size spectrum, this little Western flycatcher came in for care. The people in Orphan Care are always excited to get in an uncommon visitor, even if it’s only for a few days or weeks. This cute little bird will be cared for and released as soon as possible so he can rejoin the gene pool!

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Pudding with raisins? No, mashed bananas with flies!

Pudding with raisins? No, mashed bananas with flies!

So last week we got to see the rotating fly harvest that we perform to provide food for our insect eaters (and make it a bit more pleasant for our volunteers!) Andrea showed me one use to which the flies are put: “Flynana” or, mashed bananas with flies! The consummate resourcefulness of our volunteers never fails to amaze anyone who looks closely at our operation. Here we use some of the produce being donated by local Safeway stores, plus the recycled flies caught on site in one of our solar fly traps to provide a balanced diet for particular baby birds (like the flycatcher above.)

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Red eared slider recovers from surgery

Red eared slider recovers from surgery

The sutures are still there

The sutures (in purple) are still there

Dr. Orr performed surgery on one of the red-eared slider turtles that came in to us from a local lake. The animal had swallowed a fish hook and it was removed surgically to prevent further damage. This is another reason to not dispose of used fishing gear anywhere wildlife can have access to it. Animals such as this turtle are ill equipped to know and avoid the hazards of man-made flotsam in a man-made lake.

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Northern pintail gets care

Northern pintail gets care

Feeling a little better

Feeling a little better

Beautiful plumage

Beautiful plumage

A young Northern pintail duck was rescued last week. The bird presented a badly broken wing which was splinted and wrapped by Dr. Orr on Tuesday. Pintails are a migratory duck with gorgeous feathers not often seen around Phoenix. It appears that this duck may have been involved in an automobile collision. He will be watched closely as his wing heals.

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Three vets examine a heron's eye

Three vets examine a heron’s eye

Some eye drops should help

Some eye drops should help

One of the many baby black-crowned night herons we’ve taken in this season was examined for an eye problem last week. Presenting a tear in the nictitating membrane on one of its eyes, Dr. Orr and Dr. Wyman treated the problem with some soothing eye drops until the injury heals.

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"I am the queen!"

“I am the queen!”

And speaking of waterfowl, this muscovy duck seems to have claimed the title “Queen of all she surveys” in the waterfowl enclosure on the north side. The other ducks, ducklings and geese don’t seem to care much about who wants to be in charge, as long as the food keeps coming and the water tubs are full.

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Kestrel has new tailfeathers coming in

Kestrel has new tailfeathers coming in

A little female kestrel got to go outside with a new leg band last week. Just in time too, since she is rapidly growing new tail feathers and hopefully will be released soon!

Yet another baby HaHa arrives!

Yet another baby HaHa gets weighed.

In what must have been the second (or third) clutch this year, a baby Harris’ hawk fell from a nest located high up in a tree last week. It was examined for injury and immediately placed with our foster mom for imprinting and training. Near the top of the tree, returning it to the nest which is always the first choice was not an option in this case. Our HaHa fosters do quite well and this bird should be released when the time comes.

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Carol explains falco femoralis to an interested crowd

Carol explains falco femoralis to an interested crowd (photo by Morry Marshall)

Somebody makes a new friend

Somebody makes a new friend (photo by Morry Marshall)

Anne Peyton and Carol Marshall took our Aplomado falcon and a black vulture down to the Southwest Wings birding festival in Sierra Vista last week. An event that brings in people from all over the world, the crowds seemed to really enjoy these two birds which are not often seen in Arizona. By introducing the public to these infrequent visitors to our skies, Liberty hopes to enhance their appreciation by Arizona residents of all ages.

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Neighborhood RTH looks across the river at the new facility

Neighborhood RTH looks across the river at the new facility

RTH view of the site of the new facility

RTH view of the site of the new facility

New Liberty before the construction fence goes up

New Liberty before the construction fence goes up

I had to get a shot of this wind-blown red tail hawk who was perched on a sign looking across the Rio Salado towards where our new facility will be built.  Maybe he knows what our facility will mean to the wildlife population of this area and all of Arizona when we begin operations within the year!

 

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This Week @ Liberty – August 03, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

Many people today are concerned with sustainability.  This is a big concept with many tentacles… sustainability in farming and fishing practices, water, air, habitat, and wildlife policies to name a few.  And, the list goes on.  Liberty Wildlife is also focused on sustainability in all of these areas and more.  One that must be near and dear to the heart of any non-profit organization is sustainability when it comes to finances.  We must at all times strive to know the best ways to run an organization frugally while still furthering our mission.

A place like Liberty Wildlife must first be able to care for all of the charges put in our hands for rehabilitation and readiness for release back into the wild.  For Liberty Wildlife this can be challenging as we have as many as 5,000 and this year maybe 6,000+ animals to care for, and this usually includes a variety of over 130-140 different species of animals.  That equates to a large food bill, with meal worms and crickets for the insect eaters right up there at the top of the shopping list along with rats, mice and other prey items necessary for these rehabilitating animals.

Last year our insect eaters consumed 284,250 worms and 91,000 crickets.  They must have their protein fix to grow strong to be able to survive in the wild…our goal.  Our total food bill last year was $104,466 dollars and insects were a large part of the total.  That makes that a great target for reduction if possible.

So in our efforts toward sustainability we looked around and saw a possible solution.  We seem to be a draw for flies. Go figure. While fly strips or “big stinky” traps were successful at quelling the onslaught of flies, the methods left the potential food source unusable.

Solar fly trap

Solar Fly Trap

So, in his normal creative efforts, Terry Stevens, our Operations Manager, researched and found a bountiful solution.  A new fly trap was experimented with, and it met with great success.  The gizmo (see the photo) allows the flies to check in but not check out.  The bait is stinky but not toxic and is irresistible to flies.  Here’s the good part.  By freezing the full fly trap in the freezer (just animal food freezer…) the flies go to sleep (in the dead way) and can be harvested for use with the insect eaters.  And, the bait can be thawed out and reused.  Now if that isn’t a cool solution, I don’t know what is.  No longer do we see unsightly fly strips hanging from the ceiling with trapped flies adorning them, nor do we have wild and sustained swatting of flies wasting our energy for no longer usable food sources.

Daily fly harvest

Daily fly harvest

Stilt eating recovered flies

Stilt eating recovered flies

With this new solution, the flies are easily harvested.  They are packaged in handy plastic containers.  They are placed in containers in the insect eaters cages where the animals like black necked stilts, can often be seen standing at the door to the enclosure awaiting the delivery of flash frozen, recently thawed flies.  Happy critters make me happy.  It makes me happy that the process keeps the flies from unwanted places. But it really makes me happy that this is pretty much a free source of food.

That is a basic sustainable practice.  Right on!  Now it’s on to other bigger ways to be sustainable.

This Week @ Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total is now at 5308.

Well, I was right. We ran past last year’s total number of intakes a couple of days ago. Every new arrival from now until December 31st will set a new record. The good news is, every day we pass now will be the last of that date in this facility as work on the new Liberty Wildlife on the Rio Salado begins this week! We made some progress on a few patients, took in some interesting new animals, finished some great projects, and did some off-season educating! All-in-all, not a bad week to break an all-time record! And as Sonny and Cher used to say, “the beat goes on…”

Spiny softshell avoids surgery

Spiny softshell avoids surgery

If you remember a couple weeks ago, we took in a spiny softshell turtle who had swallowed a fish hook. We were concerned that he would require surgery as the hook was quite deep in his body. I took him down to Dr. Driggers last week and retrieved him today but Dr. Driggers was happy to report that he didn’t have to remove the hook surgically. He was able to do it with his small scope, pushing then pulling the hook until it was removed. Now the little guy will just need a week or so of medication and observation and he’ll be releasable!  Thanks, Dr. D!

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Orphan Care still going strong in a record breaking year

Orphan Care still going strong in a record breaking year

Mary Ellen feeds another baby bunny

Mary Ellen feeds another baby bunny

Rare baby mocker picture

Rare baby mockingbird picture – he doesn’t look angry!

The Orphan care staff is still motoring on, with a little over a month to go in the official “Baby Bird Season” to go. It’s been a good year so far with no major problems and everyone looking forward to the new facility next year. And so many, many babies have been raised from eggs to fledglings!

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"Owlsicle" photo by Pat Armstrong

“Owlsicle” photo by Pat Armstrong

Dark version of a barn owl gets care

Dark version of a barn owl gets care

We do get a lot of owls in over time, including most of the Arizona species. Some are classic in their morphology, some not so much. Last week during “Vet Night” I noticed two very dissimilar looking barnies that warranted a photo to display how different two birds of the same species can be, even from the same general area (Arizona). One was extremely light with a very white breast, the other very dark with dark markings overall. Both are very beautiful birds!

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Sharon helps Dr. Orr draw a blood sample

Sharon helps Dr. Orr draw a blood sample

Dr. Becker examines a kestrel

Dr. Becker examines a kestrel

Susie holds an egret for Drs. Wyman and Orr

Susie holds an egret for Drs. Wyman and Orr

It's great having three vets and our wonderful Medical Services team all working together!

It’s great having three vets and our wonderful Medical Services team all working together!

Probing for a swallowed fish hook in a Canada goose

Probing for a swallowed fish hook in a Canada goose

Tuesday is Vet Night at the Liberty ICU and lately we have had the privilege of having not only the wonderful services of Jan, Joanie, Toba, Sharon and the rest of the Med Services crew, but three veterinarians, all experienced in wildlife medicine. Dr. Orr, Dr. Wyman, and now Dr. Becker work side-by-side treating the injured birds and mammals who have been brought to our facility for help. It is an awesome sight to see the whole team working on these lucky animals who have fallen into this operation just when they needed it the most.

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Dr. Wyman and Susie prepare to band a HaHa

Dr. Wyman and Susie prepare to band a HaHa

New bird in the yard

New bird in the yard

Last week, the Harris’ hawk with the injured wing that came in wrapped up in a falconer’s straight jacket was deemed fit enough to go outside. Susie and Dr. Wyman put an identifying band on his leg and placed him in the HaHa flight enclosure with several other rehabbing Harris’ hawks. The next step is flight practice and muscle development prior to release!

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The little black-necked stilt (see above) got released!

The little black-necked stilt (see above) got released!

The young stilt seen eating the flies above got to go free last week. I had seen some others of his type when I rescued that gull a few weeks ago and returned this little guy to the show where he joined a few other stilts, a couple of geese, a few plovers and a number of killdeer. All-in-all, a great release as I saw him begin to probe the sand for food as I drove away.

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Another bald eagle comes in

Another bald eagle comes in

The good folks at AZGFD brought us another bald eagle last Friday. This bird has a loose shoulder (you can see it in the photo) and has a slight problem flying right now. After we get X-rays, we’ll know more about specific treatment avenues. We’ll keep you posted!

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R&C does a prairie dog project at the wind farm

R&C does a prairie dog project at the wind farm

Recently Liberty completed a project for Iberdrola Renewables up at their wind farm. Some prairie dogs were relocated by Nina and her R&C team. It seems the power people were concerned that the resident prairie dogs would attract golden eagles and then become an issue with the wind turbines. It was several weeks long and a lot of grueling work performed by the Research and Conservation team in the effort to protect the PD’s and the eagles!

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This Week @ Liberty – July 27, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

This past week we signed the paperwork for our construction loan provided by Alliance Bank of Arizona and Comerica Bank.  This is momentous because it marks the onset of our construction.  We also signed our contract with Okland Construction, the team who will build our dream.

All things going as planned and I certainly expect them to (There, I’ve said it!), we should have an 8 month build out.  We plan to be in our new digs by March/April of 2016.  It has been a long time coming!  Thanks for the patience from all of you.

We invite you to follow our progress starting with our ‘virtual” ground breaking in a week or so.  It is way too hot to assemble a fitting and burgeoning crowd during the hottest and most unpredictable weather season of the year.  Sun, heat, humidity and potential storms make the option of a virtual ground breaking as opposed to an actual one very positive.

We will prepare a video of our virtual ground breaking and provide a link to it on our web page.  You will be able to follow our progress weekly through our web page and our blog.

We have begun planning the move which should be a challenging at best. Many questions need to be asked and answered.  What is going to move with us, what will be recycled, what will be stored (not much) and how will the animals make the migration to their new territory?  Hundreds of animals both rehabbing animals and educational ambassadors will be relocated.  It has been suggested that the continuous stream of vehicular movement carrying animals safely tucked in their individual “arks” will resemble a vehicular Noah’s Ark.

Be sure to follow our progress.  The excitement is palpable.  It is not too late for each of you to be a part of this exciting time.  Let me know how you want to be involved.  There are numerous naming opportunities, bricks to pave the path through the educational side of the building, rooms, benches, golf carts, amphitheater, educational rooms, surgical suites, the overlook, the wetlands, etc.  So many ways to create your legacy with Liberty Wildlife at our nature and conservation center in downtown Phoenix, Arizona.

Bring on the heavy equipment, plant the trees, create the spaces.  Watch the blog, follow the links and you will feel like you are there.  See you soon at 2600 E. Elwood.

This Week @ Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total for the year has reached 5115.

Yes, we reached our 5,000th animal last week and unless the intake rate crashes entirely, we’ll surpass last year’s record of 5212 later on this week.  The bad news is that in the past seven months, over 5,000 animals needed help. The good news is that Liberty Wildlife was there to help, either to give medical care to rehabilitate and release them, or to provide comfort while we gently help them cross the rainbow bridge without fear or pain. As we look forward to moving to a new larger facility, we hope everyone who believes we are doing a good job of caring for the wildlife and educating the public in our great state, will join with us and support our work both emotionally and financially. The new “Liberty Wildlife on the Rio Salado” will be bigger and better, but it won’t be cheaper. Don’t forget: injured wild animals don’t carry health insurance, and we don’t get any tax money to support our efforts. Make a contribution, buy a brick, put your name on something – do something concrete to help us continue our mission. The animals we help and the kids we educate will thank you for years to come!      OK, now let’s look at what happened last week…

Grackle using our water drain

Grackle using our water drain

As the dew point rises with the onset of the monsoon, our A/C unit historically begins to generate recycled water as the moisture condenses from the process. Susie Vaught rigged up a “Magyver” drain which produces a small trickle of water under the intake window.  Not only does it provide moisture for the row of plants along the west wall, but this grackle regularly visits the puddle, drinking and bathing as the heat dries up other water sources. Once again, Liberty leads the way in total use and recycling!

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Lots of baby mammals continue to arrive through the summer (photo by Ana Ramirez)

Lots of baby mammals continue to arrive through the summer (photo by Ana Ramirez)

Our Orphan Care people got a lot of experience this year in the handling and care of tiny native mammals. Lots of round-tail ground squirrels, antelope squirrels, and rock squirrels came to us for care and all were given the ingredients of life (food, water, warmth and safety) until they could be released. This training will be invaluable when we expand mammalian care at the new facility.

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Jan and Laura examine the raven

Jan and Laura examine the raven – intake number 5,000 for 2015

A wounded wing is carefully wrapped

A wounded wing is carefully wrapped

The pellet shows up disturbingly well (X-ray by Dr. Todd Driggers)

The pellet shows up disturbingly well (X-ray by Dr. Todd Driggers)

Intake number 5,000 was a young male raven which came in last week presenting several issues. Most obvious was a severely damaged wing which Jan originally thought might be a candidate for pinning. I brought him down to Dr. Driggers in Gilbert the next morning for possible surgery in hopes he could be saved.

Unfortunately, the radiography told a dire tale.

Bird target

Bird target

It seems the bird had been shot with one of the ubiquitous .177cal pellets which probably caused his other injuries: a wing broken from crashing after being shot, and a severe heart contusion from the same incident. It is disheartening to see how firearms and their related merchandise are marketed without thought to regulation or collateral damage to protected (yes, ravens are protected) species.

As it turned out, the bird was humanely put to sleep as there was no real hope of repairing the damage to his wing and heart. A sad end to a young, intelligent animal who posed no threat to anyone.

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ADOT owl orphans are still with us

ADOT owl orphans are still with us

The four ADOT owls are in here, someplace!

The four ADOT owls are in here, someplace!

The four little GHO babies that were rescued from a road sign nest above the US 60 highway near Apache Junction last April are nearing release. They are now in the “live kill” stage of rehabilitation along with over 19 other orphan great horned owls (all still wearing their ID bands for positive identification) and should be ready for release in a few days. A media event is planned for their return to the AJ area from where they came. We’ll keep you posted!

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Dr. Wyman and Jan assess a young hawk

Dr. Wyman and Jan assess a young hawk

Dr. Orr checks for joint movement

Dr. Orr checks for joint movement

Sharon holds as Jan administers fluids

Sharon holds as Jan administers fluids

Peregrines are beautiful birds

Peregrines are beautiful birds

Jan and Dr. Wyman check a black crowned night heron

Jan and Dr. Wyman check a black crowned night heron

GHO gets an eye exam from Dr. Orr

GHO gets an eye exam from Dr. Orr

Dr. Orr examines the osprey

Dr. Orr examines the osprey

"Open wide..."

“Open wide…”

Little screech owl surveys the situation

Little screech owl surveys the situation

It’s really nice having at least two and sometimes three vets (Drs. Orr, Wyman, and Becker) on duty for “Vet Night” these days.  Not only can the task of checking all the patients in ICU be accomplished more quickly, but the vets and vet-techs can collaborate on both diagnosing and treating animals with outstanding results for everyone.

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Any aspiring wildlife photographers out there?  Pick your best shots and send me one or two for the upcoming 2015 Wing Beats! You’ll get credit if we use anything and you might get to see your photo in print! Please make sure the files are in .jpg format and between 180-300dpi. Deadline is August 15.  To:  buteo9@mac.com

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This Week @ Liberty – July 20, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan is doing "Important Stuff"

Megan is doing “Important Stuff” today…

H3 will return next week with an exciting update.

This Week @ Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total for the year is now up to 4948.

The rate of intakes has dropped dramatically in recent weeks, but we’re still on track to break all records for activity this year. We took in 178 animals in the last week, and if we take in just 1.75 (three quarters of a bird??) per day for the next 165 days, we will equal what we took in all of last year. With all this activity, and with all the pressure of  accomplishing regular projects (TW@L, Nature News, Wing Beats, Volunteer picnic, etc.), plus gearing up for the move to a new facility, we are still refining and improving our operation to better provide for the animals and the volunteers who care for them. Here’s what happened last week…

Still treating baby squirrels (photo by Ana Ramirez)

Still treating baby squirrels (photo by Ana Ramirez)

A little heron is examined (photo by Ana Ramirez)

A little heron is examined (photo by Ana Ramirez)

Baby egret is checked by Dr. Becker

Baby egret is checked by Dr. Becker

Young roadrunner is rescued

Young roadrunner is rescued

A beautiful osprey comes in

A beautiful osprey comes in

From mammals to raptors, from herons to roadrunners, the intakes slow down  but never stop. We’ve taken in a lot of small mammals – squirrels and other rodents – this year, along with various wading birds like herons and egrets, up to and including this osprey that was brought in last week with unknown issues.  We are waiting for radiography reports now to determine his injuries. All patients, no matter the size or species, gets excellent evaluation and treatment while in our care.

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Young RTH gets the "Dual vet" treatment.

Young RTH gets the “Dual vet” treatment.

Dr. Becker holds a young screech

Dr. Becker holds a young screech

Jan and Sharon band a young cooper's hawk

Jan and Sharon band a young cooper’s hawk

GHO waits for treatment from Stevie (photo by Ana Ramirez)

GHO waits for treatment from Stevie (photo by Ana Ramirez)

The level of professional care provided has risen over time as now we have three veterinarians on hand most Tuesdays, plus some of the most highly experienced vet techs anywhere. In addition, there are eye doctors, surgeons, and other specialists that donate their time and equipment to help out as needed.  An animal that is injured or orphaned in Arizona is extremely lucky if it finds its way to Liberty for help.

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Reptile Day at the VCRR (photo by Ellen Roberts)

Lisa and Claudia hold snakes at Reptile Day at the VCRR (photo by Ellen Roberts)

You don't have to be an eagle to be a star (photo by Ellen Roberts)

Wendy shows you don’t have to be an eagle to be a star (photo by Ellen Roberts)

During the summer months (OK, in Arizona there are a LOT of summer months…), we don’t usually do many education presentations because it’s just too hot to transport the birds. With that in mind, last week Liberty Education volunteers Claudia, Lisa, and Wendy took several of our reptilian ambassadors up to a program at the Verde Canyon Railroad terminal. Its very important for people to learn about reptiles and how beneficial they are to the environment so they don’t react with “Where’s the shovel?” when they find one while outside. It’s good that kids learn that they are not just “cold-blooded”, they are COOL! Thanks to VCRR for providing this opportunity to get the message out!

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Softshell getting x-rayed (photo by Sara Wykoff)

Softshell turtle getting x-rayed (photo by Sara Wyckoff)

The hook shows up well in the x-ray

The hook shows up well in the x-ray (The white circle is the bowl used to support and stabilize.)

Red Eared Slider trailing fishing line (photo by Alex Stofko)

Red Eared Slider trailing fishing line (photo by Alex Stofko)

The line leads to a hook that has been ingested

The line leads to a hook that has been ingested (X-rays by Dr. Mike Sorum)

Recently Liberty took in two turtles, one red-eared slider and one soft-shelled turtle, both of which were suspected to have ingested fishing hooks. When Dr. Sorum brought his portable X-ray machine out on Sunday, these suspicions were confirmed. Now the vets will have to decide on the best course of treatment since surgical removal presents its own dangers. But with the radiography in hand, the exact type of hook and the location within the animal are known and this knowledge can be a big help in determining how to proceed. The large white circle is the bowl used to support the animals and keep them from moving off the X-ray plate! (see the top photo)

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Thanks to Ana Ramirez, Alex Stofko, Sara Wyckoff, Ellen Roberts and Dr. Sorum for contributing graphics to TW@L.  I encourage anyone who has the time (and a camera!) to send stuff to me for the blog. I can’t do it all and I love showing off everybody else’s talents as often as possible!

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This Week @ Liberty – July 13, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

Good Samaritans are unfortunately not a dime a dozen.  When I encounter one I always feel up lifted.  Sunday was an uplifting day.  I missed a call from an old friend as I labored in my yard….catching the cloud cover and taking advantage of it whenever possible.  But he left a long message so that I could call him back with my “sage” advice.  (His words not mine.)

He was on his way for a day hike in the redwoods in northern California while visiting with his family.  With a friend, he was looking forward to a peaceful day in nature.  Heading to a popular hiking spot that is part of a state park, he was in the right place at the right time to see the beautiful red shouldered hawk take off from the side of the road with a rodent in its talons, only to be clipped by a passing motorcycle (who kept going…thus not the Good Samaritan).  The hawk was buffeted up into the air and fortunately landed in the middle of the road where this little bit of safety kept it from being hit by other motorists.

David did an immediate about face and retrieved the unfortunate hawk moving it to safety.  But that good deed wasn’t enough.  He called me.  I failed him by being outside without my phone.  That didn’t daunt him.  He called the Liberty Wildlife Hotline to ask for advice, and they got right back to him.  There didn’t appear to be any kind of rehab facility in the area, so he decided to call the local Humane Society who agreed to send a truck out to fetch the bird.

As if that weren’t enough, he managed to move the bird into an open field so that if it managed to pull itself together, it wouldn’t attempt to fly back into harm’s way…the road.  By this time its respiration had improved, he had opened his eyes and was standing, but it didn’t appear that he had full extension of both wings…flight didn’t seem to be eminent.

Now the hiking trip was more than an hour delayed and yet, David agreed to wait near the bird until the Humane Society truck could arrive from a town not that close to where they were in the boonies.  But stay he did.  I am really feeling good now because my faith in mankind has been renewed.  He sent photos of the bird, and it was as beautiful as he said.RS hawkRS hawk 2  The first one shows it laid out on his back seemingly dead.  The last of the four photos shows the red shouldered hawk standing as if ready to take flight.

Kudos to my old friend who took the time to save a fellow traveler on this planet, who went to a lot of trouble to help this injured animal, who didn’t turn his head the other way so as not to interrupt plans, who actually made it a learning experience for him and for his friend.

They will both be forever changed by the experience.  In his words, “I felt so honored to be able to do what I did!”  I do have nice friends and to him a huge thank you for lifting my spirits, for saving the red shouldered hawk and for being one of the select few who get to have such a personal experience with a wild thing in a wild setting.

Can you see me smiling?

This Week @ Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total for the year is now at 4770.

The intake rate has fallen considerably over the past couple weeks, and although that has given everyone a chance to take a breath, we all are all aware that with over five months and one monsoon to get through, we are nowhere near out of the woods yet. We had a couple of interesting arrivals, a few more orphans of various species, and some longer term patients that are still in our care after time. But we are ALL thankful for the mid-summer lull in the deluge of animals that hit last month (there is even a pool within the volunteers to predict how many intakes we will have when the year finally ends!) Here’s what we were looking at recently…

A white pelican stops by for a brief visit (photo by Alex)

A white pelican stops by for a brief visit (photo by Alex)

A lot of people are unaware that we have two types of pelicans in North America: The brown ones that inhabit the coastal areas and are the most familiar, and the white ones which tend to hang around lakes and fresh water. We have seen a couple of white pelicans at Liberty over the years, including one that we sent to the Birmingham Zoo in Alabama. Last week this beautiful bird was found near Tempe Town Lake in a place that was too small for him to fly away. Pelicans, like a lot of water birds, have a very high wing-loading which requires a long “runway” for take-off. Tim brought him in for a quick examination, and then took him back to the lake where he was able to again do his job being a professional fisherman.

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Spiny shoftshell turtle

Spiny softshell turtle

This spiny softshell turtle was brought in when it was suspected to have ingested a fishing hook. Currently we are waiting for either x-rays or an endoscopy to confirm this so we we can decide on further treatment. These guys are not common in this area so we suspect he was brought in by somebody who found him elsewhere and decided to make him a pet, then released him locally.

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Dr. Orr examines a burrowing owl

Dr. Orr examines a burrowing owl

Sharon and Susie help Dr. Orr wrap a GHO wing

Sharon and Susie help Dr. Orr wrap a GHO wing

On Vet Night last Tuesday, Dr. Orr presided over the activity handling the examinations, treatment, and records of the animals in the ICU. She was assisted by Sharon and Susie while Jan and the rest of the Tuesday volunteers went to get X-rays of several birds at the clinic where Dr. Wyman works.

Bad break

Bad break

A "Good" break

A “Good” break

We sometimes talk about “good breaks” and “bad breaks” and X-rays can show the difference. The top X-ray is one wing of a great horned owl who had a similar fracture on the opposite wing. As we can see, both the radius and ulna are not only broken but badly misaligned. Although these fractures are mid-shaft (between joints), this bird had to be euthanized as it would never be able to use its wings again. The bottom picture is of the harris’ hawk brought to us wrapped up by a falconer (see last week’s TW@L). This shows that only the ulna is fractured and it is again, mid-shaft. The prognosis for this bird is good with proper care and treatment.

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A look of total disinterest...

A look of total disinterest…

Standing tall

Standing tall

Screech owls are some of the cutest, most interesting birds with which we deal. Some of them will “play dead” as a defense mechanism, narrowing their eyes to mere slits and not moving a muscle until the perceived threat goes away. The one in the bottom photo is using the other  defense posture, making himself look as big and tall as possible to try to intimidate any potential attacker.

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Baby cattle egret

Baby cattle egret

Just a portrait of a cute face...

Just a portrait of a cute face…

We’ve had a few cattle egrets arrive this year, including this little guy. Orphaned at a very early age, he is being cared for and fed by the Med Services team until he can go outside and feed himself in the outside enclosure. As we pointed out not long ago, these birds follow cattle as they graze in big fields, eating the insects that the large ruminants stir up as they walk in the high grass.

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This juvenile black hawk will be a handsome bird

This juvenile black hawk will be a handsome bird

The juvenile black hawk in one of the rehab side enclosures is getting his first year plumage in.  It shows what a beautiful bird he will become as he develops into adulthood. We still plan to release him when the time comes… Genes that handsome need to be in the pool!

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Verdin prior to release...

Verdin prior to release…

I intercepted this little verdin right before Susie released him last week.  Verdin are very pretty little (and I do mean little!) birds that are probably frequently overlooked in the backyard due to their diminutive stature. Their vocalization is also small, but very melodious if you know what you’re listening for.

Click here to listen to a verdin.

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Lots of kestrels

Lots of kestrels

And lest we forget how many orphans we’ve taken in this year, here are SOME of the tags for the birds in with our foster parent kestrels.  (NOTE: These are just the kestrels… we have many, many more GHO, RTH, barn owl, and Harris’ hawk orphans in with foster parents. We have so many that we ran out of the blue tags and had to improvise with pink ones!

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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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