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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This Week @ Liberty – June 22, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Huge applause!

This Week @ Liberty

The intake total for this year is at 4049.

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

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

Intake brooder at noon

Intake brooder at noon

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

Tub o'skunks (photo by Toba)

Tub o’skunks (photo by Toba)

Feeding the babies (Photo by Corey Shaw)

Feeding the babies (Photo by Corey Shaw)

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

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

Mom and the last baby join the family

Mom and the last baby join the family

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

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A new way to feed a problem escape artist

A new way to feed a problem escape artist

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

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

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

More ducklings join the club including another swedish blue

More ducklings join the club including another swedish blue

Baby heron gets a meal

Baby heron gets a meal

Three baby egrets come in from the heat

Three baby egrets come in from the heat

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

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Jan assesses a peregrine wing

Jan assesses a peregrine wing

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

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Jan and Laura stitch up an injured LBB

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

Mallard gets the Vet Night treatment

Mallard gets the Vet Night treatment

Juvenile screech owl is cared for

Juvenile screech owl is cared for

Another small reptile comes in

Another small reptile comes in

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

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

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

Getting an ID band

Getting an ID band

More of the cooper's hawks

More of the Cooper’s hawks

And even more cooper's hawks...!

And even more orphaned Cooper’s hawks…!

We even got in an adult!

We even got in an adult!

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

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Gray hawk from down south

Gray hawk from down south (Photo by Colin Rowe)

An injured wing gets a wrap

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

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

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And finally……

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

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

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

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This Week @ Liberty – June 15, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week @ Liberty

The intake total has now reached 3607.

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

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

OC bustles with activity

OC continues to bustle with activity

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

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The "Sole Survivor" canker hawk gets some relief

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

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

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A closer look at a kestrels foot

A closer look at a kestrels foot

He might lose a toe

He might lose a toe

Nice view of the "False Eyes"

Nice view of the “False Eyes”

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

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Speaking of kestrels...

Speaking of kestrels…

Two more baby siblings - these being herons.

Two more baby siblings – great blue herons.

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

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

Catchmaster at work – the entire food chain cruelly killed.

What more can we say?

What more can we say?

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

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Tuesday night Med Services team works on a barn owl

Tuesday night Med Services team works on a barn owl

Dr. Becker looks at a GHO eye

Dr. Becker looks at a GHO eye

Sarah gets some pointers

Sarah gets some pointers

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

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

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

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

A great, protective daddy

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

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

“I’m INNOCENT I tell ya!!!”

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This Week @ Liberty – June 08, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

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

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

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

This Week @ Liberty

The intake total for the year is up to 3250.

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

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

Two brand new gila woodpeckers

Two brand new gila woodpeckers

Small bat looks hungry

Small bat looks hungry

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

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Baby cooper's hawk gets the full camo treatment

Baby cooper’s hawk gets the full camo treatment

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

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Baby BCNH gets weighed

Baby BCNH gets weighed

Fledgeling black crowned night heron on the scale

Fledgling black crowned night heron on the scale

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

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RTH nestling is checked for injury

RTH nestling is checked for injury

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

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A duck seems to like her "Manolo Millers"

A duck seems to like her “Manolo Millers”

A vast improvement!

A vast improvement!

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

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

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

Dr Becker inspects a screech owl's eye injury

Dr Becker inspects a screech owl’s eye injury

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

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A young RTH fledgeling arrives with a serious case of canker

A young RTH fledgeling arrives with a serious case of canker

Jan probes for a passageway

Jan probes for a passageway

The sole survivor of the family

The sole survivor of the family

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

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Jan and Alex examine a swainsons from Sierra Vista

Jan and Alex examine a swainsons from near Sierra Vista

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

 

 

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This Week @ Liberty – June 01, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

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

I often hear:

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

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

This Week at Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total for the year is now at 3000.

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIFE EMERGE!

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This Week @ Liberty – May 25, 2015

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

Megan Mosby

Megan Mosby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week @ Liberty

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

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

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

The new patient "waiting room" in the ICU

The new patient “waiting room” in the ICU

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

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Snake trapped in netting

Snake trapped in netting (photo by Kim)

Carefully snipping the net (photo by Kim)

Carefully snipping the net (photo by Kim)

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

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Eddy and Jan gather 272 for the last time

Eddie and Jan gather 272 for the last time

Jan removes the last stitches

Jan removes the last stitches

He really does look happy to be going home!

He really does look happy to be going home!

One more time into the carrier

One more time into the carrier

The long journey home begins

The long journey home begins

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

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A meeting of the minds

A meeting of the minds

Tiny barn owl with a schroeder-thomas splint

Tiny barn owl with a schroeder-thomas splint

Baby bunny with wounds from cat

Baby bunny with wounds from cat

It might not be mom, but it still tastes good

It might not be mom, but it still tastes good

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

Chimney retrieval gho fledgling

Chimney retrieval GHO fledgling

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

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Herron gets weighed

Herron gets weighed

Jan checks a wing

Jan checks a wing

Jan and Alex suture a kestrel

Jan and Alex suture a kestrel

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

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Two released hummers (photo by Kim)

Two released hummers (photo by Kim)

Sitting on a fountain

Sitting on a fountain (photo by Kim)

Tongue in the air

Tongue in the air (photo by Kim)

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

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Snowy and cattle egret share an enclosure

Snowy and cattle egret share an enclosure

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

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………Remember their sacrifices……..

They gave everything...

They gave everything…

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