This Week at Liberty – July 21, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

Here’s another way to have a great time and help out Liberty Wildlife…a win-win for everyone…except hopefully the Colorado Rockies (sorry Rockies fans).  In conjunction with Resource Center Italiano (RCI), Liberty Wildlife will have a booth on the concourse for the Sunday afternoon game on August 31st.  We have tickets to sell which will result in funding for Liberty’s mission.

If you are going to be in town Labor Day weekend and want to have fun supporting Liberty Wildlife, RCI and the Diamondbacks go to the link below and buy a ticket.  There are several prices for a variety of seating choices…and come to see us at the game.

TO PURCHASE TICKETS:

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

DB logo

*No returns, refunds, exchanges or upgrades on any tickets.  All tickets based on availability.

For any accessible seating or groups of 10 or larger, please contact your D-backs Rep Daniel Ingold

at (602) 462-4226 or dingold@dbacks.com.

Five Simple Steps to Order your D-backs Tickets:

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

This Week at Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total for the year is now at 3845.

Released on July 17: 6 cottontails, 39 doves (various), 4 curved-bill thrashers, 2 Say’s phoebes, 3 finches.

Believe it or not, last week the pace of intakes slowed a bit, possibly because it was so hot very few people ventured outside and fewer interactions between humans and wildlife occurred. In any case, it was good to take a breath from the non-stop activity of the previous few months since we have now taken in 111 more animals than the entire total for last year. Even though it was really hot in the Valley, a few members of the Education Team did our first “Reptiles on the Railroad” program for the Verde Canyon Rail Road recently.  We also got to see the arrival of one species that had never before showed up at our facility (see below) and as she made a quick (2 hours!) pass through before she was released, I was lucky to be able to record it. We are starting a promotion with the Arizona Diamondbacks (see HHH above) so help us if you can!

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

Work progresses on the eagle area in the east forty…

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

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

Even with Liberty Wildlife on the Rio Salado moving towards fruition, we are still improving the existing facility for the near term. Several modular structures to be used for eagle housing are nearing completion on the east side of the campus and it looks great! Joe Miller is doing an outstanding job with the help of a couple of other skilled volunteers and it’s a place of which we can all be proud.

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

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

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

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

Normally the Education Season is officially closed for the summer due to excessive heat. But recently a few of our Ed Team members did a program up at the depot for the Verde Canyon Rail Road with all reptiles. Since the are active in the heat, there was no danger for the animals, especially the desert tortoises who seemed to enjoy interacting with the kids. A small temporary enclosure was set up on the grass in a shady spot and the children were able to watch them up close as they roamed freely in the pens. They also got to see and touch the snakes letting them see how cool and beneficial they are.

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Spiny lizard with horse induced injury

Spiny lizard with horse induced injury

Beautiful scale coloration

Beautiful scale coloration

This beautiful spiny lizard arrived last week presenting an injured tail…well, actually, a missing tail! It seems he was stepped on by a horse.  Luckily the rider saw the accident transpire and rescued the little guy and brought him to us for treatment. He’ll  be released soon and should be none the worse for wear.

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John inside the grate (photo by Balinda)

John inside the grate (photo by Balinda)

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

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

OK, we’ve all been there (or at least those of us who have been doing rescues for 20+ years.)  ”There’s a bird trapped in the storm drain!  You can hear it!” goes the call. John Glitsos and Balinda Fortman got that call last week.  I’ll let them tell the story:

Balinda and I got a rescue call for a “bird stuck in a storm drain” this afternoon.
Scottsdale Police and Fire had just left when we got there.  The caller was saying, “they just want to get back to the station!  They said its a frog just to get out of here!”  She was absolutely certain that what she heard 75 feet away in the storm drain was a bird.
So, four people to pry up the grate, and one idiot to crawl down the drain pipe on hands and knees, for over 45 minutes (one way) through spider webs, sludge, mosquitoes, and floating cigars (please don’t correct me, I am positive those were cigars)… and what do we discover?
I had to pass him and go to the far grate to turn around (the pipe was only about 24 inches in diameter) so I took this picture with my cell camera on the way back out…  Thank goodness the light at the end of the tunnel is, in fact, the light at the end of the tunnel!!
By the way, we told the frog to carry on, not feeling the need to rescue him.  In fact, he probably should have rescued us from ourselves! (Balinda said I should have mentioned the bloody hands (the grate fell on my hand) and the cut up knees from the gravel on the bottom of the sludge….  I disagree!  Then you will think I am a genuine idiot – not just a pretend idiot!!!)  The Shawshank Redemption comes to mind…  “Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy!” ( extra points for anyone who remembers where THAT came from!)

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Temporary visitor

Temporary visitor

Beaver getting assessed

Beaver getting assessed

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

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

Chewing on the towel

Chewing on the towel

The famously impressive tail

The famously impressive tail

Last Tuesday Carl Price brought in a fairly small but very rare visitor to Liberty Wildlife – a female beaver! It seems the police found her wandering through a parking lot on the south end of Scottsdale not appearing to be navigating well with no water in sight.  Carl got her into his carrier and brought her in where she was assessed and determined to be free from injury – just lost. We put her into another carrier and I drove her back to an appropriate site (classified for her safety) and let her go.  Then trail of happy bubbles as she swam away under the surface of the water made me smile after the muscle-straining task of holding her for the exam!

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Fire hydrants are in

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

Work on Elwood Street is progressing as the utilities are now being installed along the road. Our new address, 2600 East Elwood Street, is moving forward! In the next couple of months, we’ll have maps and instructions on the easiest ways to access the new facility from any direction. Stay tuned!

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This Week at Liberty – July 14, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

I have been begging the monsoon thunderstorms to come gently to my yard…to no avail.  In that yearning I began to read about the history of monsoons in the valley.  I learned some interesting things.

I learned that using the word monsoon to describe the rains was a meteorological no no.  It comes from the Arabic word “mausim” meaning “a season”.  The onset of the season was originally determined by the occurrence of three consecutive days of dew points above 55 degrees, but recently the arbitrary date of June 15 was assigned as the beginning of the monsoon with the official ending being September 30th.

The retreating of the jet stream to the north appears to allow the movements of low pressure systems into our desert.  Apparently scientists aren’t totally sure if the moisture that accompanies this wind comes totally from the Gulf of Mexico or the Gulf of California or is a mixture of both.  Much research is being done to determine this.  What I do know is that it usually results in the influx of first year pelicans into our desert.  The immature birds seem to get wafted up into these winds and aren’t experienced enough fliers to escape before they are plummeted into the desert….often on a road or parking lot that might look just like water from where they are aerially speaking.  Once down in the desert, the difficulties of the turf make it almost impossible for them to return home without a little help.  We end up with many of them that we stabilize and fly to the coast by our very experienced winged partners at US Airways/American Airlines….our pelican pipeline for many years.

With this intense atmospheric destabilization comes thunderstorms, but also a great deal of dust and wind making the conditions challenging.  Flooded washes can provide a very dangerous situation for anyone trapped or silly enough to enter them…just stay away.  The winds tear down trees, tip over cars or trailers, rip off roofs, or trade yard detritus with neighbors.  The dust is just plain nasty, insinuating itself in your pool, fountains, and the cracks in structures…all to be dealt with when the winds and rains recede.  Grrrrrrrrrrr!

In our valley, Arizona’s “second spring” is great at turning things verdant providing food for wildlife and water for spade foot toads to start their life cycles, but it doesn’t do all that much for our ongoing drought.  The water comes fast and furiously and runs off just as quickly.  With the intense heat the water readily evaporates, and transpiration in plant use results in little storage that is needed to lessen the drought.  We do usually get one third of our yearly average of rainfall during the monsoon.  The wettest monsoon was in 1984 where we saw 9.38 inches of rain and the paltriest occurred in 1924 with only a meager 0.35 inches.

Unfortunately I have had no monsoon thunderstorms at my house so far.  It might have something to do with living in the shadow of the mountain… a phenomena for another blog….but right now I have decided to take the big step in luring rains to my yard….I am going to wash my car….works every time!

This Week at Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total for the year is now at 3629.

Non-raptors released on 7/10/2014:   41 doves, 3 ducks, 37 quail, 7 rabbits, 2 great blue herons, 10 black-crowned night herons, 5 geese.

As we close in on surpassing last year’s total intakes, the monsoon is picking up steam. A large storm yesterday led to several arrivals which will be covered next week. In the meantime, projects are taking shape and animals keep coming in, some small, some injured, and some unusual. Plus we get a new crop of people interested in joining the ranks of Liberty volunteers! Let’s see what happened recently…

Left on our doorstep

Left on our doorstep

Although the message on our hotline states clearly that we do NOT take in dogs, cats, or other pets or domestic animals, last week somebody dumped this not-yet-weaned kitten on our intake counter. The box was just left near the window with no note or notice of what was inside. Luckily one of the volunteers saw it before the temperature climbed into the 100+ range. I suggested calling him “Bob” so we could say we got in a “bobcat” but before the day was out, a volunteer had adopted him and he went to a welcoming home. People, we are NOT the Humane Society or the Animal Welfare League. These groups do a wonderful job caring for unwanted pets and are set up for taking them in. Liberty is only chartered to aid native Arizona wildlife. PASS THE WORD!

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Ornate box turtle

Ornate box turtle

And while we ‘re on the subject of pets, we were the recipients this turtle last week.  I am told this is an ornate box turtle but if anybody has a more definitive ID, post a comment and let me know.  A non-native to Arizona, the box turtle is an inappropriate pet under any circumstances. They require very specific care and are susceptible to a wide range of environmental hazard in terms of habitat and dietary requirements. Before you acquire a “pet,” do some research into what species make good companion animals and what they will require in terms of care and feeding…

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Baby jackrabbit

Baby jackrabbit

Yellow warbler

Townsend’s warbler

New R&T volunteer Paul Dean's first rescue

New R&T volunteer Paul Dean’s first rescue

Baby kestrel gets some food

Baby kestrel gets some food

The routine intakes – meaning native species –  continued as well as this baby jack rabbit joined our collection of orphaned cottontails and other small mammals. The small yellow-streaked Townsend’s warbler is one of several migratory warblers that pass through periodically on their way south or north, depending on the season. GHOs come to us all year and last week one of our newly trained R&T volunteers went out to rescue one in a local backyard abutting a preserve. And kestrels also seem to come in all year and the monsoon usually brings in several “orphans of the storm” requiring fostering at Liberty.

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Baby quail in a basket

Baby quail in a basket

Getting weighed

Getting weighed

Quail arrive by the hundreds and even this late in the season, we get in eggs and babies. Though they are some of the most plentiful arrivals, they are also among the cutest patients in the Orphan Care area.

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Loving the meal worms

Loving the meal worms

The arrival of a baby gallinule (or Moorhen) caused a lot of interest from the volunteers. In the rail family, this strange looking little bird will grow up to look somewhat like a coot and will be released into an appropriate habitat when the time comes. Until then, he is being fed in the OC area and is amazing the volunteers with his strange “claw-like” wings, gangly feet, and interesting coloration.

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New recruits get "oriented."

New recruits get “oriented.”

Carol leads the tour for prospective volunteers

Carol leads the tour for prospective volunteers

As the year rolls on, we are continually recruiting new volunteers for all the critical areas of the operation. Since the busiest time of year coincides with people taking vacations, a deep “bench” is always a necessity. Volunteer Coordinator Carol Suits presents the orientation information and a brief tour of the facility so people can decide what they might like to do for us.

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Night snake

Night snake

This picture might be somewhat misleading. This little (just a few inches long) night snake was another victim of a glue trap somebody set out to catch – who knows what. The problem, as always, is that these traps are non-species specific in their targeting and snare any animal that happens to come in contact with it. Fortunately, this little snake was rescued, removed from the sticky trap, and released back into this normal habitat.

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Screech owl condo

Screech owl condo (photo by Claudia Kirscher)

And for the “Cutest picture of the week” category, Claudia sent this in. She took this in the screech owl enclosure showing the “two-by-two” nature of these social little owls . The pairs seem to get along fine with no encouragement from the volunteers. All they seem to need is the proper amount of space and a good supply of food.

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This Week at Liberty – July 07, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

John Glitsos, guest Blogger

John Glitsos, guest Blogger

I can’t count the number of times, over the past nine years, that Megan Mosby and I have locked horns over this issue. But since she is taking the holiday weekend off, this is my chance to have her readers decide the issue once and for all!

Megan regularly annoys me by saying, “Thank you!” for something I have done at Liberty Wildlife. My answer is always the same, “I get more out of Liberty than Liberty will ever get out of me!”

To prove my point, I asked some other volunteers at Liberty, “Why are you here?” Putting this question in context, picture a 61-year-old lady, gutting hawk food (don’t ask) for four hours on a 110-degree day. Or a petite young lady armed with tweezers delicately feeding live crickets and meal worms to a baby nighthawk. Or a group of Education Volunteers driving 8 hours roundtrip to spend 1 hour with a group of students who have never seen an owl. Or a rescue volunteer who, on her first rescue call, sees a bird stuck high in a tree. Instead of shrugging and going home, she heads over to Home Depot and rents a cherry picker to make the rescue. These people are crazy dedicated. Why? What are they getting out of it?

The consensus of the Volunteers I talked to was their reason had evolved over time, just like mine. Let me explain….

I’m reluctant to admit that my initial interest was the thrill of rescuing injured raptors from trees, building ledges, and cliffs. I felt like an instant hit at parties, trumping golf games and movies seen, with my tales of dangerous wildlife rescues.

Other popular themes – loving animals in general, and birds in particular, or “giving back” to the community, or getting away from technology, or getting closer to nature – all resonated for me, but weren’t entirely it.

Before long, I began to realize the impact my work was having on people, not just animals. Good people. People who care enough to call the Liberty Hotline, and wait until a Rescue Volunteer arrives. I learned that, to these people, I personified a way to help a helpless yet beautiful creature survive. They considered me, as a Liberty person, to be an expert, and asked me, “What species is she? Will she make it? What could we have done to prevent that?” The more they asked, the more I strived to learn. Soon I was feeling tremendous pride in being the “expert” on the scene.

From there, I added Education to my list of Volunteer roles. The classes for certification and the time required to check off on each education species and animal humbled me, as I learned more, yet realized how much more there was to learn.

This work required spending a huge amount of time with other Volunteers, and I found a common thread, the love of animals, and a compassion for nature and other human beings that is unsurpassed by any group of people I have ever met. When a personal tragedy nearly crushed me in early 2013, it was another Liberty person who brought me food to eat and arranged for a dozen Volunteers to come and pack my belongings so I could quickly (in 2 days) move to new surroundings. And none of them ever asked for anything in return.

Around the same time, I came to realize how much Liberty was adding to my life. I was doing things every week that few people will ever experience. Imagine a majestic bald eagle stepping willingly onto your arm, and taking her food from your hand!

And then, the most important realization of all. It happened when I turned my attention away from me, and toward the audiences that we encounter. These are the moments that I will never forget.

Every year I take a peregrine falcon to a neurological rehab facility where young people are struggling with life-altering head injuries. After one of these programs, a mom came up and said, “Hearing how Maverick [the falcon] has a new job educating people, since his injury took away his ability to fly 270 miles per hour, touched my son. He was a star athlete before, and lost hope. Today he realized that he can have a productive and amazing life doing different things! Thank you!

Or the third-grade program where a mom was sitting on the floor next to her blind son, describing the animals to him during our presentation. My fellow educator, Max, realized what was happening and took Phoenix, our wonderful golden eagle, to where they were sitting. He had Phoenix flap his enormous wings. That little boy will never, ever, forget the wind from the eagle’s powerful wings blowing through his hair. And I will never, ever, forget the expression of joy on his face.

So when Megan says, “Thank you, John, for all you do,” I will continue to tell her that my experiences, my friends, my pride in our work and people, and my feelings of absolute joy, are all the thanks I will ever need. Case closed.

P.S.  Megan, thank you for all you do!

This Week at Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

 

The intake total for the year is now at 3458.

Non-raptors released on 7-03-2014: 10 doves (various species), 2 mockingbirds, 1 flicker, 1 woodpecker, 1 curved-bill thrasher, 6 LBB’s (various species)

We sailed through the 4th of July with a steady stream of intakes including a couple of bats and some additional orphans of varying species. One of our recent bald eagle intakes got some attention from Jan and Kyle from AZGFD prior to his impending freedom, and a couple of kestrels got released by some really nice folks in Scottsdale. Then there was the 4th of July parade where we met a new friend and neighbor! Have a look…

A little pipistrelle I rescued last week

A little pipistrelle I rescued last week

Bats suffer from a bad image, especially here in Arizona.  It is true that they are number one on the rabies vector species list, but that may be somewhat misleading. Just remember if you find a bat doing anything out of the ordinary, you need to do three things: 1) DON’T touch it 2) Call the Liberty Wildlife hotline,  and 3) DON’T EVER TOUCH IT!  Just for the safety of yourself – and the bat (bats that have been touched are required to be euthanized). There are close to 1,000 species of bats – almost 1/4 of all mammals on Earth, and are absolutely necessary to the environment. This little pipistrelle probably just didn’t make it home when the sun came up and was hiding close to an apartment with kids playing all around. Rebecca is our bat expert and took this little guy for observation and any treatment required.

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Three more hummingbird nests are brought in.

Three more hummingbird nests are brought in.

Susie's lunch counter - now serving three hungry flickers

Susie’s lunch counter – now serving three hungry flickers (photo by Nancy Andison)

Baby kestrel weighing in

Baby kestrel weighing in

Baby boy and baby girl learning the world

Baby boy and baby girl learning the world

The orphans keep coming in. We were actually a bit surprised to get three more hummingbird nests last week. It seems that tree trimming is progressing unabated. The OC staff is still working throughout the daylight hours to keep tiny (and sometimes not-so-tiny) mouths full and nestling and pre-fledgling hawks and falcons are still showing up into the summer. Hopefully the onset of the monsoon won’t bring in a bunch more late babies…

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Jay Rine and Linda Willis prepare to release

Jay Rine and Linda Willis prepare to release

Two little falcons go free

Two little falcons go free (photo by Scottsdale Insurance)

"I like this 'freedom' stuff!"

“I like this ‘freedom’ stuff!”

Last Christmas, Linda Willis coordinated a large donation of wonderful equipment and cards from the Scottsdale Insurance Company. Their employees had a special Christmas tree just for Liberty and the donations filled my truck. Last week, Linda and Jay Rine got to release two kestrels that went through our rehabilitation process. The birds did well, as did the two releasing volunteers. Thanks again for all you folks did for us!

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The latest bald gets checked

The latest bald gets checked

Jan helps Kyle adjust the transmitter

Jan helps Kyle adjust the transmitter

The last little bald eagle we took in got a visit from Kyle at AZGFD on Tuesday. The bird had his locating transmitter inspected and the attaching harness adjusted while Jan held the bird. They are keeping track of the eagles in Arizona to better understand the movements of the species in the desert. Hopefully this will allow for better protection of their habitat which is critical for their long term survival.

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Stevie begins the assessment

Stevie begins the assessment (photo by Chris Nicholson)

Feeling better the next day (photo by Nina Grimaldi)

Feeling better the next day (photo by Nina Grimaldi)

A first year red tail hawk was found in someone’s back yard on the south side of Maricopa last week. After a 120 mile round trip, he was dropped off for assessment by Stevie in Med Services. He looked quite “down” and I had fears for his survival, but the next day, after fluids, food, and time to de-stress, he was looking much better! Hopefully he will continue to improve and be released for another shot at being a productive RTH!

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Aurora poses for our neighbor Louis Gonzalez!

Aurora poses for our neighbor Luis Gonzalez!

"Gonzo" leads the parade with Aurora and Joe in his truck

“Gonzo” leads the parade with Aurora and Joe in his truck

The usual suspects...

The usual suspects…

Anasazi makes a great impression

Anasazi makes a great impression

Liberty Wildlife working on the 4th of July!

Liberty Wildlife working on the 4th of July!

The July 4th parade of decorated bikes, golf carts, horses, dogs, kids and people is a tradition in our Scottsdale neighborhood. It’s a really nice, old-fashioned family and neighbors get-together to celebrate our country’s birthday that Liberty loves to join in on by displaying some of our Education birds who stand out front and do some homespun educating as the people and decorations pass  by. This year, our new neighbor Luis Gonzalez offered his truck to Liberty for Aurora and Joe to ride in as they lead the caravan through the local streets.  Thanks to them and all who helped to make this a memorable event!

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This Week at Liberty – June 30, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

Poor little snake.  I first got word of this kind of brutality from a board member, Bill H.  who watched from his office window as a king snake made an escape across his yard to the safety of bushes.  It was being pursued by a bad gathering of doves…who has ever heard of such a thing?

But, then I saw it with my own eyes…gang activity in my hood.   On a fairly early dog walk, I was pulled by the dogs to a potential blood bath.  (You know how it goes.  Drama in the neighborhood and voyeurs come out of the woodwork.)  And, yes, you heard me right.  It was brutal…a dust-up of the first order.  Using all of my strength, I controlled the beasts and decided to intervene.

Poor little snake was just trying to make his escape across the street when we happened on the mayhem.  Hmmmmmmmmmmm…. And I am thinking, it could be good time for some snake training for the dogs who after an initial interest, it turns out, could not have cared less! They were more interested in the potential sniffs ahead of us.

But, back at the scene, here’s what was happening.  The cast of characters was shocking.  A rough looking gang of mourning doves and a brutal bunch of quail….frightening.   And, the seeming victim was a smallish gopher snake…poor little snake.  He was trying to make his way across the street in the early morning hours and these two gangs were impeding his progress…there was pecking and peeping going on…quite a ruckus.  Gang signs were apparent…a wing flashed here, a flailing beak thrust there.  It was clearly an interspecies gang up on the poor little snake.

As I watched, the quail were making aggressive advances and the doves were piling in whenever possible…it was vicious….ugly!

My penchant for helping the underdog took over, and I severely and unnecessarily disciplined the dogs (anyone who knows me knows what that really means) and went to the rescue of the poor little snake.  I found a rusted rod at the side of the road that would insure that I wasn’t a victim of a stupid strike from the poor little snake.  It immediately coiled…and struck, and I felt like a cad. Then it quickly rolled up into a ball and covered its little head and seemingly gave up.  With a deft use of the rod I managed to work the little guy across the road after warning an oncoming biker of the potential for disaster for both him and the snake.  Success.

Now back to the hooligans.  I am pretty sure they were smiling at their victory.  I might have even heard an oorah.  I suppose it is possible that the poor little snake was trying to make a meal out of the little quail babies or the dove nest near-by…but what’s a poor little snake supposed to do for breakfast?

Ok, it was a meal interrupted…shame on me for inserting myself into the fray…but I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor little snake. The vision of it squished in the street overwhelmed my stoic nature observer self.

Hungrily it swiftly slivered into the brush to lick its wounds or better yet its little snake pride.  As for me, I’ll never look at a quail or dove in the same way…alter egos… thugs to the core.

This Week at Liberty

The intake total for the year is now 3252.

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

Released on June 26: 44 Gambel’s quail, 1 Gila woodpecker, 1 cactus wren, 1 curved bill thrasher, 1 gilded flicker + 5 northern flickers (see below), 29 doves (various), 18 cottontail rabbits, 4 LBBs* (data provided by Joan Boatwright and Sharon Sneva)                          *little brown birds – various

If you’re keeping track, this means that as of the end of June, we are less than 500 intakes less than the total number for 2013! We’re well on the way for a record year in terms of the number of animals we have helped. When we mention this number to other rehabilitation groups, you can usually see their jaws drop as the number sinks in. Couple this with the number of education programs we produce and the number of Native Americans and tribes to whom we provide feathers through the Non-Eagle Feather Repository, the scope of the work we do at Liberty Wildlife is truly mind boggling! Let’s take a look at some of the activities and animal stories from last week…

The Friday Daily Care and Med Services team (photo by Carol Baetzel)

The Friday Daily Care and Med Services team (photo by Carol Baetzel)

One of the main advantages Liberty has over other groups is the size and camaraderie of the volunteer staff. This group shot from last Friday includes the DC team and the Med Services folks (missing are the Orphan Care people who were busy feeding hundreds of hungry babies and couldn’t abandon their posts for pictures.) One of our long time Friday people, Bethany (front row, third from left ) is moving to Flagstaff but will be our North Central Arizona operative, and Erika (front row, first on left) is heading to Ecuador but will return to the area – and Liberty – in a few months.

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 A young road runner has a wing injury

A young road runner has a wing injury

Can the roadrunner run?

Can the roadrunner run?

An injured road runner can present unique problems. Most of the time, they have leg injuries and these are particularly problematic for birds who spend a lot of time on the ground. We took one in recently with a wing injury that appears to be repairable and once the wing was aligned and wrapped, his ability to “run” was tested on the red concrete floor in the ICU. This determines what the eventual course of treatment will take.

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Electric kestrel

Electric kestrel

Usually the birds we see with electrical burns are the larger hawks, owls, and eagles. Any bird can sit on one wire and suffer no consequences. It’s only when they contact two wires or a wire and a grounding element that a circuit is completed and electricity flows. Kestrels are normally too small to have problems in this area, but one little female somehow managed to get zapped last week. The feathers on her left wing were damaged but we don’t really know how deep the burns went – yet. She will be under close observation for the next few weeks to determine the extent of the damage. If it’s limited to the feathers, the prognosis is good after she molts and regrows her primaries. If the current passed through  tissue, we may see signs of more injury.

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A juvenile raven with characteristic blue eyes

A juvenile raven with characteristic blue eyes

Juvenile screech owl with characteristic closed eyes...

Juvenile screech owl with characteristic closed eyes…

Many birds display their age with the color of their eyes. One of the fledgling ravens at the facility is showing off his “Paul Newman” eyes, which will darken over time. The little screech owl is displaying his expected pose of playing “dead” with closed eyes as he is examined by the Med Services volunteers.

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2 baby quail fresh from the egg

2 baby quail fresh from the egg

Yet another hummer nest

Yet another hummer nest

Hungry baby squirrel

Hungry baby squirrel

When animals are tiny babies, it’s hard not to find them extremely cute.  This time of year, I always stuff TW@L with baby pictures, not because we don’t have enough of those pictures, but because I have so many of them! Let’s face it, babies of nearly ALL species are  ”Awwwww” inspiring! (and it gives me another chance to harp on being careful trimming trees. The humming bird nest above was hanging on the branch of a bush a few inches from the end and was cut off by someone trimming their foliage.

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Family meal

Family meal (Photo by Nina Grimaldi)

Enjoying some "cajun" seafood

Enjoying some “cajun” seafood (Photo by Nina Grimaldi)

The raccoon family is still doing well, despite the extreme heat. All of them seem to enjoy the crawfish that were donated, along with more traditional fare – corn on the cob and small trout. (Nina feeds them when she is here and gets most of the good shots as they seem to disregard photography when the food arrives.)

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APS official prepares to release a flicker

APS official prepares to release a flicker

Jennifer Moore (APS) releases another Slide Fire survivor

Jennifer Moore (APS) releases another Slide Fire survivor

Joining the world!

Joining the world!

No fires here!

No fires here!

If you’ve been following TW@L, you know we got in several baby northern flickers that survived the Slide Fire by hunkering down inside of a burning power pole. Officials from APS found them and brought them to Liberty Wildlife for rehabilitation. They were released last week back in their territory. For the full story, click HERE.

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I will be sending the Frodo shirts to the printer this week.  Thanks to all who placed orders for this commemorative shirt!

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This Week at Liberty – June 23, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

I have been thinking a lot lately about why people give—of their time, their resources, their energy.   I have been involved in this non-profit organization for over thirty years, and I have seen many of the ways that people give, and it is heartening.

As for volunteering or donating money, the purest form of giving comes from those who do it to be part of a bigger cause and they give from the heart.  They want to make the world a better place, save a sacred piece of land, keep a species strong and thriving, make a child’s life better, help search for a cure to a devastating disease, provide a home for a homeless family….whatever the cause, the giving is from the heart and has no strings attached.

When I look at the volunteers at Liberty Wildlife I see many reasons for volunteering.  Some people are looking for opportunities to learn more about wildlife, the planet, the connection of things.  Some people want to help an injured animal, to stop the suffering, to participate in keeping the balance of things.  Some people want to excel at spreading the mission into a ground swell that will make a difference on a global level.  Some people want to be a part of a movement.

What these people do is give of their time.  They very often also give of their monetary resources.  And, their giving is pure.  What I have noticed about them is that they stick around for a long time until life situations require them to move on….and my guess is that they find a way to give where ever life sends them.

The giving is pure.

If along the way, you make friends of others who share your passion…well that is all the better.  If you learn a skill that moves you forward in your life’s goals…. better still.  If you earn community hours or a bonus at work, better yet.  If you earn the respect of others…perfect.  If you learn patience, and trust me you will need it…then maybe you have hit a homerun.

But if you are giving of your time for reasons that are other than pure, you will find a reason to quit.  It isn’t for you, and that is okay.  I guess my plea would be that you are honest about that.  Volunteering, donating funds, giving professional expertise all need to be done because to you it seems like the right thing to do….no expectations, no demands, no pretenses….purely because you want to do something to make things better.

There is a niche in which everyone can feel good about giving.  Explore ways that are right for you. If your experience isn’t something that you enjoy…and if it doesn’t meet your needs to feel good for the right reasons then you definitely need to be true to your heart.   If the giving is pure, you will know it.  If it isn’t, then find the place where it can be and make the difference that you most certainly can.

This Week at Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total for the year is now at 3001!

And thanks to a suggestion from (and data supplied by) Sharon Sneva, we’re going to add a new feature: “Releases of the Week.” If you see Sharon out at the facility, thank her for the effort to bring this valuable information to the TW@L update!

Sharon at work

Sharon at work

Sharon writes: “In the past week we have successfully released from the aviaries: 47 doves, 15 insect eaters (curve bill thrashers, woodpeckers, cactus wrens), 15  finches of various types, 13 bunnies, 2 round tail ground squirrels, 2 rock squirrels and 34 quail! We also released 4 black crowned night herons that were ready and the remaining 4 should be ready to go soon. Thanks to all of you who volunteered to take a box or two of birds and please let your coordinator know if you’d like to release! Please! Thursdays are aviary release days and we’ll be glad to hold a box of birds for pick up if you’d like.” We’ll try to add this each week to the update!

The heat keeps going up and the orphans keep coming in, all destined to get the best chance at survival we (and their foster parents) can give them. There was some more eagle activity last week as one juvenile bald that had been through the rehab process had some problems with human interaction and came back in, and another kid was found by the Verde Canyon Rail Road people and made it to Liberty via Tony Sola.  The raccoon family is still doing well and we did some maintenance on a couple of Education birds. The mission now is to survive the heat until the monsoon storms bring some afternoon relief.

We're doing lots of barn owls - as usual! (photo by James Frazier)

We’re doing lots of barn owls – as usual! (photo by James Frazier)

I’m not sure why, but people don’t seem to think we get in many barn owls at Liberty. While they might not outnumber the GHO’s arriving each year, the barn owl population definitely skyrockets each spring – along with the amount of tree-trimming in the valley! We have a great set of foster parents, a great Owl Team of feeders, and the little owls get in, get healthy, and get out into the world in a steady stream that should strike terror into the hearts of mice everywhere!

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"Before eating, always wash your hands - and your dinner!"

“Before eating, always wash your hands – and your dinner!” (photo by Nina Grimaldi)

The momma raccoon is teaching her cubs the proper way to clean their food – and themselves – as they grow bigger and stronger every day. They really seem to like the addition of crawfish and trout to their diet. It won’t be long and they will be allowed to join the nocturnal world of mammals at a river nearby.

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The tiniest of gaping beaks

The tiniest of gaping beaks

A little bigger, but still a tiny target...

A little bigger, but still a tiny target…

Not tiny, but plenty sharp!

Not tiny, but plenty sharp!

A mother bird could spot this one from Alpha Centauri!

A mother bird could spot this one from Alpha Centauri!

As the orphans grow up, I thought I’d show some pictures of the difference in the mouths the OC folks have to deal with as they feed and care for the baby birds. From the tiniest of newly hatched hummingbirds, up to the gargantuan (a word one seldom gets to use in a sentence) maw of a fledgling raven and everything in between, the volunteers are trained to use the proper tools and techniques appropriate for each species they treating at the time. Some birds get fed with a tube – a skill that is both daunting and dangerous for the untrained – while some get fed with a tool like the cap of a pen, and the person doing the feeding needs to know when to use which. The image of a child (or an adult!) feeding a baby bird with an eyedropper is not only outdated, it can lead to aspiration of the food and death for the baby. Rehabilitation is a skill best left to trained individuals!

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300lbs of lockable force - another reason the Eagle Handler Team is so small...

300lbs of lockable force – another reason the Eagle Handler Team is so small…

Dr. Sorum takes some X-rays of Aurora's foot

Dr. Sorum takes an X-ray of Aurora’s feet

Impressive architecture!

Impressive architecture!

Trimming the talons of a large bald eagle

Trimming the talons of a large bald eagle

The golden gets ax X-ray as well

The golden gets ax X-ray as well

Looking good - no damage from the bumble foot!

Looking good – no damage from the bumble foot!

Last week, Aurora seemed to have dislocated a toe on one of her feet. When Dr. Sorum came out to X-ray the foot, the toe had popped back into position and appeared to be perfectly normal, but since he was already there with the high-tech device, a shot was taken anyway. As suspected, the foot and toe appeared normal. After Jan trimmed her talons with the special tool, she went back into her enclosure while one of our rehabbing golden eagles was brought out. This bird had suffered from bumble foot, a condition not uncommon in heavier raptors, and to make sure the infection had not caused damage to the bones of the foot, it was also X-rayed. This radiograph showed undamaged foot bones as well. Since eagles use their feet as their primary weapons, healthy appendages are critical for their survival.

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One week left to order a Commemorative Burrowing Owl (Frodo) T-shirt.

Frodo Brown

Go to the store (libertywildlife.net) or on the website, click on the store button to order.

Allow 3-4 weeks for delivery. REMEMBER FRODO!

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This Week at Liberty – June 16, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

It seems like this past week was peppered with eagles.  That got me thinking about how fortunate we are to have had all of these years of experience with these charismatic animals.

Golden eagle no. 13-3685 was released yesterday.  A hearty troupe of Liberty Wildlife folks made the trek to Aubrey Valley to set this eagle free.  Aubrey Valley is a destination for unattached golden eagles….those who haven’t earned their own territory or taken a mate.  No. 13-3685 came to us last year from Marble Canyon.  She was brought to us by the folks at the Peregrine Fund.  She was found on the ground and had been seen being stalked by coyotes.  On her arrival she presented evidence of coyote attack, puncture wounds, and damaged primary feathers from being grabbed more than likely by the coyote.  The damage to the feathers was so severe that imping (a technique that physically puts new feathers in the shafts allowing the bird to be released and to naturally molt in new feathers) in this case was not viable.  Also, the tail feathers were badly broomed from contact with the ground.  And if that weren’t enough blood results showed the presence of lead. She was in pretty sad shape.

Over time, with chelating to remove lead from her system and given time to fatten up and grow new feathers, eagle no. 13-3685 was ready for release.  A success by anyone’s terms.

On the bald eagle side of the chart, the nest watch folks for AZ Game and Fish called in that the Greer nest had absolutely fallen apart in the winds and both babies were dumped.  They are about a week from fledging….timing is everything.  One of the two babies remained in the tree but one had plummeted to the ground.  It was decided that the best thing to do was for the Game Warden in the area to try to snag the baby on the ground….the nest watchers were there to assist…and keep it safe in a carrier over night until biologists could climb the tree and attempt to put it back in the crook of the tree.  If they both can stay there for a week and fledge naturally it will be best for all.  With feeding instructions for the one on the ground relayed by Liberty Wildlife, we will assume that the little guy made it safely through the night and was successfully put back in the tree to be fed by the parents for at least a week until fledging.

Then if that weren’t enough we were called to pick up a young eagle that had been seen at Page Springs hanging around bumming food from a restaurant.  It was an eagle that had been out of the nest earlier and not doing well for unknown reasons.  On the first trip in to us we were unable to find anything obviously wrong with it…no breaks…no infection….just not doing well.  We fattened him up, hydrated and stabilized him and the eagle biologists sent him back to the nest area. The second time now at Page Springs it was decided to recaptured him and return him to Liberty Wildlife for further evaluation.  X rays were done on Sunday and blood work is pending.  Hopefully these tests will give us a better idea of what might be going on.  We can’t help but ask the question, “Is any of this related to the recent fires in the area?”

At Liberty we have cared for eagles of Arizona for the past 33 years.  Because of our experience and success there are 88 eagles in the Arizona skies and untold numbers of their offspring doing their eagle thing and playing their critical part in the natural world….and wowing all of us.

Our education eagles have allowed hundreds of thousands of people from literally all over the world to have a pretty awesome and personal experience with what is hard to deny for me and many others as a kindred spirit.   And, to add to their importance, these magnificent birds have also made temporary job changes when necessary providing mentorship for baby eagles in our care and to be blood donors to eagles that are in need.  They may not be able to surf the skies anymore, but they continue to be “good citizen representatives from their species to ours.”

At this writing I have been informed that we were called about another golden eagle at Lake Powell who may end up needing our attention.  Yes, peppered with eagles!

We are proud to have had so many opportunities to positively interact with our country’s regal eagles.

This Week at Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

There intake total is currently up to 2807.

It might be an effect of global climate change, but we’re taking in orphans from species that normally would have concluded the normal breeding cycle by now. The temps have been up but so far, we haven’t seen any records or much above the 108F mark. The Med services people updated the WNV vaccinations last week, and the raccoon family is doing well. This year, canker seems to be the toughest problem as not many birds are surviving even with careful treatment. The foster parents are all doing well as are their adopted “kids” and the golden eagle that was in the 60ft flight has now been released. The thought for the day is “PRESS ON” into monsoon season…

Getting ready for West Nile Virus vaccine

Getting ready for West Nile Virus vaccinations

Each year, we use donated West Nile Virus vaccine to inoculate all of our resident birds. Last Thursday, Jan and Alex and their team arrived early and began the long job of getting all of our Education birds out and held for their shots. It’s a long arduous process but so far, we’ve been lucky in keeping this terrible plague out of their population.

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Jan finds evidence of canker

Jan finds evidence of canker

Baby accipiter ready for treatment

Second baby accipiter ready for treatment

And as long as we’re talking about lousy diseases, avian canker – or trichomoniasis, is rearing it’s ugly head within the rehab sector. Since cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks eat mostly other birds, these accipiters are especially vulnerable to canker. Their prey – doves, pigeons, etc., are prone to passing the micro-organisms through drinking water and when they are in turn eaten by these avian specialists, the hunters and their young all acquire the disease. Medication is needed as soon as possible as early treatment is a factor in recovery.

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The OC volunteers are busy during all shifts

The OC volunteers are busy during all shifts

Hummingbird nests are still coming in

Hummingbird nests are still coming in

Cottontails continue to arrive

Cottontails continue to arrive

Duckling hatched minutes before from an egg recovered 2 weeks ago

Duckling hatched minutes before from an egg recovered 2 weeks ago

Click here for a video of this duckling.

The baby barn owl continues to improve

The baby barn owl continues to improve

Baby screech playing dead

A baby screech playing dead…

while other screeches hide in their "condo"

while other screeches hide in their “condo”

The orphans of all species continue to show up and all are cared for either in the OC area by the dedicate Orphan Care volunteers, or the Medical service people prior to being assigned a foster family to live with at the appropriate age. Fortunately we have pairs of non-releasable birds of most common species so all orphans can be raised by their own kind and will imprint properly. Cross-fostering – placing the young of one specie into a foster situation with a different specie – has been studied (Bird, Burnham 1985) and is not supported by science.

LOTS of kestrel fosters

LOTS of kestrel fosters – each blue tag is an orphan bird

Kestrels get attention in the ICU

Kestrels get attention in the ICU

Another bird that has a problem with canker is the American kestrel. Since they also will eat other birds that may be infected, all intakes are checked for the disease and are routinely treated in a prophylactic effort. As noted in recent updates, we have taken in several large families of these fledgling falcons that, because of the sizes of their clutches, are susceptible to acquiring canker from food brought to the nest by parents.

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Mom gives one cub a bath

Mom gives one cub a bath

The kids playing in the tree

The kids playing in the tree

The raccoon family is growing rapidly and hopefully they will all get released in the not-too-distant future. Raccoon moms are selfless and dedicated and the little ones need to be able to keep up with her after she is released into a new, unfamiliar environment. The suitability for release is largely a function of the cubs’ size and dental development.

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Golden eagle gets some flight practice

Golden eagle gets some flight practice

No more walls or ceilings

No more walls or ceilings (photo by Jan Miller)

See HHH above for the full story on this golden eagle.

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Hey all you Liberty Wildlife T-Shirt aficionados!

We are going to make a special run of commemorative “Frodo” shirts.  In order to keep costs and inventory down, we need definite orders prior to having the silk screening done. If you want one of these shirts Frodo Brown go to the Liberty Wildlife on-line store and place you order. Once all orders are in (we’ll give it about 2 weeks), we’ll have the shirts printed up and shipped to you – or you can pick them up at the facility. ACT NOW!!!

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This Week at Liberty – June 09, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

Progress report:  This past Wednesday the construction started on the completion of Elwood from 28th Street to 24th Street.  Why is road construction the subject of my blog?   Work beginsThis event is a big step leading to the building of our new facility, Liberty Wildlife on the Rio Salado.  The road will be the catalyst to bringing the infrastructure to our 6.5 acres of land.  We will have water and power and the ability to start preparing the land for contouring, landscaping, internal infrastructure, and all of the step by step events that will lead to our relocation.

Another thing that has been on my mind is a big “you rock” to our rehab group…orphan care, medical services, and daily care.  That also includes our Hotline and Rescue group who are the first step to helping you and the wildlife you are invested in.  What a lot of people don’t realize is that this group of dedicated folks can’t rest on their laurels by mastering the care of one kind of wildlife.  They can’t say, “Oh that is a great horned owl, burrowing owl, barn owl, I know what to do with it.”

No, they have to be prepared to deal with everything from rabbits, raccoons, or foxes to hummingbirds, flickers, herons, cliff swallows, night hawks, or falcons, condors and eagles.  To be exact…this group of incredible volunteers and staff deal with between 125-140 species in a given year.  What is the natural history of that poorwill?  What does the swift eat?  What does lead poisoning look like in an eagle or a condor?  When is the right time to release a raccoon family?  Where is the best place to take a family of red shafted flickers?  Can this fracture next to a joint be fixed, and if so what is the newest way to do it?

There is a huge amount of knowledge that must be maintained. There is a huge amount of experience that makes this group such a success.  It has come from 33 years of hard work and continuing curiosity.

And, this rehabilitation business isn’t constant.   Medications change, bandaging materials change and improve.  Methods and techniques become better and better and when shared in continuing education classes spread the word and make us continually better and better at what we do.

Circling back to the start of our road….it is actually a symbol of our ability to continue to grow in physical ways which allows us to continue to grow in all other rehabilitation and education ways. We see ourselves getting better and better at everything that we do and that is truly an exciting thought.

If you are interested in how you can help make all of this happen, just let me know.  There is indeed something that everyone can do to put your fingerprint on this exciting project.  Join in!

This Week at Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total for the year now stands at 2590.

It remains as busy as possible at the facility and the pace shows no signs of letting up. Amid all the usual intakes and orphans that continually show up, several birds made a trip to the eye clinic last week for examination by Dr. Urbanz and her staff. The assessments confirmed either the injury and/or the prognosis in the patients examined. The new log-in procedures and forms designed by John seem to be working well as we continue to move into the digital age, and as Megan recounted above, the road to the new facility is moving along – literally! To prevent a sameness creeping into the TW@L posting, I’ve included some general shots from the operation and I want to thank all the volunteers who submitted photos for use in the blog.  Thanks to all, and keep them coming! Now for the week at hand…

Sharon and Joanie help Jan with a turkey vulture

Sharon and Joanie help Jan with a turkey vulture

X-rays show evidence of a gunshot wound

X-rays show evidence of a gunshot wound

We don’t actually get a lot of turkey vultures at Liberty, but the one that recently arrived was X-rayed by Dr. Sorum and two lead pellets showed up really well indicating this bird was shot. I guess people who call these birds “buzzards” think that they are fair game for target practice, but such is NOT the case. As migratory birds, they are protected and cannot be shot, killed, or captured within the law. Hopefully this bird will recover and be returned to his job as airborne trash collector as soon as possible. They provide a great service to the human as well as the animal community of Arizona.

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Dr. Urbanz checking the baby barn owl for eye trauma

Dr. Urbanz checking the baby barn owl for eye trauma

High-tech instruments are used

High-tech instruments are used

A damaged eye is examined carefully

A damaged eye is examined carefully

Dr. Urbanz examines the damage

Andrea holds as Dr. Urbanz determines the extent of the injury

Believe it or not, the owl can actually see, though not well, with that eye

Believe it or not, the owl can actually see, though not well, with that eye

A trip up to the animal eye clinic last week had Dr. Jennifer Urbanz examining several of our patients for suspected eye problems. The results were mixed as one was better than anticipated, one was worse, and one was inconclusive. The little burrowing owl presented evidence of a puncture wound which involved the eyelid and the iris, but it was determined that the bird could actually see with the inured eye. Healing will still require time. The kestrel she checked was unfortunately deemed irreparably blind, while the baby barn owl showed no eye damage. If he recovers from whatever neurological injury he may have, release might still be possible eventually.

Chula catches an unlucky snake

An unlucky snake comes visiting

"You should see the other guy..."

“You should see (or taste) the other guy…”

One of our rehabbed red tails caught an unwary coach-whip snake in her enclosure recently and while downing the unlucky reptile, received a scratch on her eye. Luckily it was only a surface injury and with care and medicine, should heal properly in time. The same cannot be said for the snake…

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Liberty plays matchmaker

Liberty plays matchmaker

As we’re trying to acquire a “deeper bench” in the foster care area, a male and a female non-releasable kestrel were introduced to each other in hopes of forming a pair that will act as foster parents for future orphans. Since “Match.com” was not consulted, it remains to be seen if these two will hit it off…

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Screech owl duplex

Screech owl duplex

Tim Coppage recently constructed this “screech owl duplex” for our growing assemblage of screeches in rehab. It appears the birds like the new digs as they are hanging out in it most of the time during the heat of the day.

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Mom and cub racoon

Mom and cub racoon

The raccoon family is doing fine as mom is healthy and the kids are growing up fast. They seem to like the habitat that was provided by Nina when her cats abandoned the structure, making it tougher to get any good photos without luck and timing coming together in the mammal area…

I thought waterbeds went out

I thought waterbeds went out

The squirrels in rehab are also doing well, improvising as they try to adapt to the Arizona environment in 100+degree weather in June. This little guy seems to have found a comfy spot on top of the water jug.

Home alone bunny by Loenz

“Home Alone” bunny photo by Lorenza

And finally, Lorenza recently submitted this picture of the Macaulay Culkin look-alike winner at Liberty Wildlife 2014! As I always say, timing is everything in photography!

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Panorama of the Liberty Wildlife on the Rio Salado site

Panorama of the Liberty Wildlife on the Rio Salado site

I took this panorama last Sunday looking east over the site of Liberty Wildlife on the Rio Salado. The path along the river is a nice touch, and as soon as the road in front is finished, we hope to begin work on the facility itself (see Megan’s HHH above).

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This Week at Liberty – June 02, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

Last week I wrote about the fires in Oak Creek Canyon.  Those fires have now been pretty much contained and the evacuated folks are being allowed to return home.  In that process APS workers were sent in to assess the damage.  Compromised poles and electrical equipment takes a beating in a fire, just like everything else and needs to be replaced, repaired, returned to its tip top working condition.

Remember when I mentioned that most of the wildlife flees the fires and is just displaced instead of being collateral damage?  And remember when I mentioned how sad it was for the babies unable to flee who faced sure death when they couldn’t escape the damage from smoke and flames?  And remember when I said only little ones that were really, really lucky would survive?

Guess what.  I was right.  APS workers were in the process of replacing a damaged pole when they discovered a nest of red-shafted flickers…five in all, two boys and three girls.  They were in a cavity in a pole deftly excavated by the parents, a fitting home to raise a brood….except for the fire.  The parents had indeed been forced to leave and there was no way the babies could be coaxed to safety by the parents…..surely a failed nesting attempt for them.

"I still smell like smoke!"

“I still smell like smoke!”

But no, they were lucky…really, really lucky.  The workers discovered the babies and heroically nabbed them and couriered them to Liberty Wildlife.  We were cautious in predicting the outcome with these little guys….just barely starting to feather and parentless for an unknown amount of time, we had no idea if or how compromised their respiratory system would be from breathing the smoke and ash.

As it turns out they are great.  The nest cavity protected them from hideous heat, smothering fire and spreading ash.  They are growing and thriving and will eventually be released as close to their home site as is appropriate for their survival…when the time is right.

These were lucky little ones….very, very lucky.  Thanks to the heroes at APS for their quick and selfless actions and for getting them to us in such a timely manner.  They saved their lives…YAY!

This Week at Liberty

The intake total is now at 2324.

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The number of orphans continues to rise. We made the TV news last week with the “crawl” announcing the large influx was due to high winds and wildfire, but the winds have subsided, at least temporarily, and the fire only brought us five new patients – that we know of. Tree-trimming continues to be one of the primary generators of orphan influx and this week is no exception. Some species keep reproducing almost all year leading to a couple of surprising arrivals, and the raccoon family is doing well in the mammal area. Check out the new photo/slide on the website home page and leave a comment for our review if you have time. Now, let’s look at last week…

The baby bald eagle continues to heal

The baby bald eagle continues to heal

The baby bald eagle is recovering well after his surgery. The pin was removed last week and his wing is healing, although it will forever be shorter than the uninjured side and this will most likely preclude his release down the road. However, we’ll continue to give him the daily care he needs in the hope that he will adapt to his new ‘arrangement’ and grow strong enough to survive in the wild. “Hope is a good thing – maybe the best thing!”

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Flammulated owl is our guest

Flammulated owl is our guest

We are currently hosting a little flammulated owl that arrived recently. These pretty little birds are the second smallest – and the most migratory – owl in North America. Unable to fly, Jan suspects he may have a fractured corracoid and this will be investigated via X-rays this week. Since he has missed the mass movement of flammulateds up from their wintering grounds of Central America, when he heals and is again able to fly, he’ll have to wait with us for the rest of his flock to return on it’s return journey.

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A baby black crowned night heron joins the patient count

A baby black crowned night heron joins the patient count

All baby mockingbirds look angry

All baby mockingbirds look like they’re angry at something…

Two of the many young birds that became patients last week include this black crowned night heron and this little mockingbird. Juvenile BCNHs always seem to look cute, as gangly and uncoordinated as they are, while young mocker always seem to look like they’re mad at the world. Both of these birds are doing well and are on the road to release when they mature.

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Baby barnie gets weighed

Baby barnie gets weighed…

...then joins four previous orphans with Abba and Tyto

…then joins four previous orphans with Abba and Tyto

It seems like each week we see new arrivals of orphan barn owls. Our foster parents, Abba and Tyto, do prodigious duty raising the little birds as they grown from strange looking handfuls of downy fluff to beautiful adult barn owls over a few months. Barnies can have large clutches of up to six babies which can be weeks apart in age. This helps as we can’t control how large the arriving orphans are when they are introduced to the foster parents.

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Jan checks for possible gunshot wounds

Jan checks for possible gunshot wounds

Little Buow has head and wing injuries

Little Buow has head and wing injuries

A burrowing owl came in last week presenting injuries possibly consistent with gunshot wounds. His wing and head were damaged, including a serious injury to his left eye. After he was stabilized, he was allowed to rest pending further examination and possible X-rays to determine the extent of the damage.

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One of several kestrel orphans to arrive last week

One of several kestrel orphans to arrive last week

Three of the latest five were unharmed by the fall

Three of the latest five were unharmed by the fall

Two of them had broken legs

Two of them had broken legs

"False eyes"

“False eyes”

We took in the second of two families of five baby kestrels that had been displaced by tree trimming activity. In this case, two of the five babies sustained broken legs in their fall from the severed branches but were otherwise intact. The ones that were uninjured are placed with foster parents while the ones with broken bones are in the ICU until they heal sufficiently. One of the little falcons displayed prominent ‘false eyes’ or “ocelli” which are dark spots on the back of their heads. It is thought that these may deter or at least deflect attacks from airborne predators when the kestrels are vulnerable.

Channel 10 crew at Liberty

Channel 10 crew at Liberty

The kestrels were some of the birds featured on a live news spot on Channel 10 last week. Click here for the spot

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Five orphans of the 'Slide Fire'

Five orphans of the ‘Slide Fire’

Many folks were concerned about the wildlife during the Slide Fire  (see Megan’s HHH last week and again this week). On Thursday, an APS crew working to replace burned power poles in the fire zone noticed five pre-fledgling red shafted flickers in a nest in one of the charred poles they had cut down. A senior VP who was working with the crew placed the birds in a knapsack and transported them to Liberty Wildlife where they are currently in the Orphan Care area being treated by volunteers. Outside of smelling like smoke, they are mostly healthy and will stay with us until they are old enough to be released into an appropriate area.

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Mama raccoon feed the kids

Mama raccoon feed the kids (photo by Nina Grimaldi)

And just to keep you up-to-date on the progress of our resident raccoon family, mother and cubs are all doing fine. We’re all looking forward to a release of the entire brood in the not too distant future.

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This Week at Liberty – May 26, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

The fires in Oak Creek Canyon have become headlines around the country.  What a beautiful spot!  What a potential loss of valuable and beloved property! What about the wildlife? What a shame!

KNXV Slide Fire 5-20-14 10_1400633505610_4990992_ver1.0_900_675

Photo by ABC15

It is horrifying to see the footage of an area many of us know so well.  Favorite spots that I have lived in, hiked in, birded in, picnicked in are vanishing before my eyes…and I keep thinking about the wildlife.

The good thing that I know is that most of them aren’t actually harmed by the fire.  If they can run, they do.  If they can fly, they do.  If they can burrow or hide, they do.  Most of them make it out.  There are two major problems though.  At this time of year, nesting season, there are babies and fledglings not ready or able to leave the nest or den who just won’t make it unless they are very, very lucky.  And all of the displaced critters who flee ahead of the fires will probably find it difficult to carve out a territory in which to live until the forests come back.  Habitat loss, in general is the gremlin for them….making survival difficult even if it is just for a while.

However, studies in wildlife and forest management reveal surprising things.  In burned out forests amazing things happen.  For example, there are species of beetles whose feelers hone in on smoke which triggers them to fly to burned areas in order to lay their eggs in the bark.  That triggers the return of avian species like woodpeckers who fly into the area to feed on the larvae.  Deer tend to like to forage on the fresh grasses that spring up when seeds that have lain dormant awaiting the fires to allow for their germination.  The predators return to feed on the deer and other small grazers. A great percentage of species depend on snags and some kind of wood debris during part of their life cycles.  Rebirth occurs.

So, I get it that forest burn is cyclical and that burns are good for the forests in general.  I did grow up with Smokey the Bear and now realize the danger in taking that message to heart.  But I can’t stop thinking about those babies that are being “culled” in the meantime.  So, what I want you to know is that at Liberty Wildlife we do care ultimately about those potential fatalities.  If there is anything we can do to ease their pain, we want to help.

Please, if you have the need for assistance, call our hotline.  We have an outstanding group of Hotline people who are waiting to help man the calls.  We have Rescue and Transport people to assist when possible.  We have Veterinarians, Medical Services staff, Orphan Care staff, Daily Care staff all ready and willing to lend a hand.

Call on us.  We will answer your call. 480-998-5550

This Week at Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total for the year now stands at 2108.

As the fire crews begin to get a handle on the Slide Fire in Oak Creek Canyon, a Liberty volunteer enlists the aid of a local fire department in a rescue at a Tempe cemetery. The torrent of incoming orphans continues apace and the drought brings on a new danger: an increase in canker due to diminished water sources. The education season grinds to a halt as the temperature rises (but the shows continue!) and we give one more tour to the architectural firm working on our new facility. Let’s jump in and take a look…

The architects visit one more time

Jan talks about enclosure construction as the architects visit one more time

We’re getting closer to breaking ground on the new “Liberty Wildlife on the River facility. Architects from Weddle and Gilmore came out with project manager Dick Fry to take one last look at the existing structure to finalize plans for the new enclosures. Every effort if being made to keep the structure sound, keep the construction environmentally and esthetically pleasing, and keep the costs down. The good news is, we’re getting closer to  moving every day!

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A Townsend's warbler comes in

A Townsend’s warbler comes in

Baby killdeer (photo by Sara)

Baby killdeer (photo by Sara)

OK, so not only are we getting in a lot(!) of baby birds – like this little killdeer – but a lot of migrants as they move from breeding areas to feeding grounds and back – like the Townsend’s warbler above. The fascinating thing about precocial babies like the killdeer is that they look almost exactly like adults – only smaller!

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A bad case of canker

Jan and Joanie try to treat a bad case of canker in a harris’ hawk

One of the few natural problems that birds present on arrival in the ICU is canker, or trichomoniasis. This is a single-celled protozoal parasite that is frequently found in the mouth, esophagus, crop, proventriculus, upper respiratory and gastrointestinal tract of affected birds. It’s most common in pigeons and doves which in turn causes problems in raptors that eat those birds. It is often passes from one bird to another through contaminated drinking water such as pools of rainwater and, sadly, bird feeders that have not been cleaned properly. This harris’ hawk had an extremely advanced case of canker as the growth had attacked his entire mouth area and had eaten holes through the tissue surrounding the beak. Unfortunately, the damage was too severe and the bird died the next morning.

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"I gotta get outta here!"

“I gotta get outta here!”

Mexican free tailed bat has an impressive set of teeth!

Mexican free tailed bat has an impressive set of teeth!

We don’t get a lot of bats at Liberty, but when they do run into problems, our volunteers are ready to help. This Mexican free-tailed bat arrived last week with some wing damage and is now in our care. Gloves are a must as bats are on top of the rabies vector species list in Arizona. It’s imperative that if you find a bat experiencing difficulties, do not touch it! The protocol specified by health agencies are specific and if the animal has had contact with humans, it must be euthanized for examination for rabies. Call Liberty Wildlife for assistance!

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"What Am I Doing Here" (photo by John Glitsos)

“What am I doing here?” (photo by John Glitsos)

Help Arrives

Help arrives (photo by John Glitsos)

Raising The Ladder (photo by John Glitdsos)

Raising the ladder (photo by John Glitsos)

John At The Top ("What am I doing here?!?")

John at the top (“What am I doing here?!?”)

Volunteer John Glitsos was called out for a rescue last week.  There was a pre-fledgling red tail hawk on the ground under a very tall tree at a cemetery in Tempe. The nest was visible as was the mom so John decided to do the best thing – get the baby back with the family. After a call to the local fire department, Joel Zieglar with the Tempe Fire Dept – C Shift, came out with their ladder truck and offered to help. John took the baby up as far as he could and got him very close to the nest. After thanking the FD for their help, John decided to go the extra mile and returned to check on the bird later on. As John puts it:  I checked on the RTH last night and he looked fine.  Mom was with him… but I decided that he should be checked daily since I did not get him all the way back to his nest. So, I went back this morning to the cemetery and found the little guy back on the ground under the tree!! He did not look as good to me, although I could not see anything broken, it looked like he needed some fluids and perhaps a juicy mouse or two!  So, I decided to bring him in. He is rescue 2014-1890. They found Canker… which may explain some of what is going on.  If so, we may see his nest-mate soon too… Anyway, he is in a brooder.  I marked his paperwork to please let me release him with the Tempe Fire guys when that day comes…Not exactly the story I was hoping for, but I feel that he has a fighting chance now.  He is cute as could be!

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Joe and the kids in Bagdad

Joe and the kids in Bagdad (photo by Laura Phelps)

Aurora wows the kids

Aurora wows the kids (photo by Laura Phelps)

Jan is also a big hit!

Jan is also a big hit! (photo by Laura Phelps)

Getting kids out into nature is one of our goals!

Getting kids out into nature is one of our goals! (photo by Laura Phelps)

Even though it’s getting warm and near the end of the Education Season, Joe and Jan took some of our ambassadors up to Bagdad recently to do a program for Freeport McMoRan. One of our goals in doing educational outreach is to get kids outside and into nature. This show accomplished just that in a big way! The kids really enjoyed seeing the hawks, owls, falcons and bald eagle that made the trip. Learning about nature in nature makes a lasting impression, especially on the kids.

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Memorial Day 2014

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This Week at Liberty – May 19, 2014

Hoots, Howls, and HollersMegan and Libby

With summer almost upon us and vacations looming for many, I would like to take a minute to encourage everyone to find some time to get outside with your children or young friends…maybe even leaving your “screens” behind…heaven forbid!  And, if that is too big of a step, download some aps that might help you interpret the out of doors on your adventures.  You can learn about the stars, plants, insects, birds, and other wildlife that you encounter.  You can encourage your kids to start life-lists that will continue into the non-vacation time.  Create a passion that will have your young ones seeking out other references to feed a burgeoning interest. Perfect!last-child-cover-lrg

This notion is not a new idea.  The Nature and Children movement has been encouraging more time in nature since Richard Louv wrote The Last Child in the Woods (a book everyone should read, in my opinion).  The National Wildlife Fund in 2012 presented a goal of inspiring 10 million kids to go out of doors for at least 90 minutes a week.  That seems doable.  This movement is a partnership with parents, caregivers, policy makers and child-serving institutions including organizations such as National Recreation and Park Association.

The Children and Nature Network (www.childrenandnaturenetwork.org) has a pretty nifty web site and newsletter that can help the novice nature enthusiast get involved or get ideas of ways to start movements in your neighborhood, school, scout group, or any other group that would like to encourage more out of doors play.  It might be easier to take the big plunge into the world of nature if you have some buddies to accompany you.

And, remember if you haven’t already planned your vacation, think about taking the kids into nature.  There are a plethora of web sites you can check out for ideas like “Family Vacations That Will Get Your Kids into Nature” or if professionally planned vacations aren’t in the cards for you and your family maybe a city or state park near your home will provide the opportunities just right for your young group….and if all else fails, you can pitch a tent in the back yard and soak in nature close to home.  It will always be easy to go back to, and discovering nature in your own back yard is a start to embracing you inner nature child.

As the National Recreation and Park Association says: “…help us let kids know why it is called the great outdoors.”  Let’s build an arsenal of nature lovers with the passion to make things better not only for the natural world but for all of us who are part of it.

This Week at Liberty

The intake total for the year is now at 1892.

Posted by Terry Stevens

Posted by Terry Stevens

At times, things happen in fits and starts at Liberty, and this was one of those weeks. There were a few periods of hyperactivity, punctuated by a moment or two of breath-catching, but as the temperatures rise, things begin to happen more rapidly. More orphans showed up, some of the recent patients improved while others are still getting lots of well-coordinated treatment. On the good news side, Donna J had surgery on her shoulder and came through with flying colors. It’s amazing what enough pins, screws, and hardware will do! One eagle got released, only to come back again for a brief visit, and then got released again. Sadly, but not totally unexpectedly, at the outset of the week as we lost one of our oldest and most beloved education birds. Let’s walk through the week…

A few more baby quail

A few more baby quail

Between the ducklings, the killdeers, the hummers and the quail, the orphan families take up a lot of time – and space – in the Orphan Care area. Continually monitored as to temperature and feeding schedule, the large groups of tiny birds are cared for by the dedicated OC volunteers.

Actually, baby barn owls are cute

Actually, baby barn owls are cute…no, really!

But it's an easier sell with screech owls.

But it’s an easier sell with baby screech owls.

Baby owls are cute – some more than others – but still, even the barn owl orphans babies are able to melt the hearts of those that see them. The baby barnies are sometimes mistaken for baby turkey vultures, but the foster families recognize them and take them in at once, brooding and feeding them as they grow into stellar mouse catchers!

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The baby bald eagle recovers well after surgery

The baby bald eagle recovers well after surgery

The baby bald eagle is doing well after his surgery. The pin is holding the bones in position as they heal and the bird is getting a daily dose of what it takes to be a bald eagle sitting in a cage inside Lady Libby’s enclosure. The bird is growing so fast that soon it will outgrow the cage and be transferred to another space back in “Eagle Town” on the east side of the facility.

Red tail hawk baby Emmett grows very rapidly

Red tail hawk baby “Emmett” is growing very rapidly

Playing peek-a-boo in the office

Playing peek-a-boo in the office

Speaking of raptor orphans growing fast, the baby red tail is also growing explosively. After only a couple of days with the individual that found it on the ground, it was apparent that this little bird was imprinted on arrival. It’s amazing how fast this process takes place once the bird’s eyes are open and humans bring it food. The first thing it did when it got to our facility was look at the volunteers and begin to beg food before it was even assessed. The feeders and handlers all wore camouflage but the die had been cast.

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Baby bunny hiding in plain sight

Baby bunny hiding in plain sight

Last week, when volunteer extraordinaire Tim Coppage arrived for his Med Services shift, he noticed this little bunny who had extricated himself from his enclosure during the night. Luckily the little lagomorph found a safe warm spot in one of the glove tubs where he remained until Tim found him and he was returned to the bunny habitat.

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Entire kestrel family felled by tree trimmers

Five fledglings from one kestrel family felled by tree trimmers

OK, another tree-trimmer story. This time an entire family of nearly fledged kestrels – two females and three males –  were removed from their nest as tree trimmers hacked away at the branches. Fortunately the workers saw what they had done and picked the small birds up and placed them in a plastic tub.  After the ride to Liberty, the family was evaluated and placed with two of our foster parents for the completion of the process through which they become fledged falcons, ready and able to hunt the skies of Arizona.

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How many volunteers does it take to work on a raven?

How many volunteers does it take to work on a raven?

Ravens, being extremely intelligent, are a handful when it comes to treatment. This bird exhibited some of this behavior last week as it seemed to take four volunteers to manage his exam. Sharon and Joanie held the bird as Jan and Dr. Wyman performed the necessary  treatment. This bird was reportedly attacked by adult ravens before it was old enough to defend itself, which is not all that uncommon.

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Joanie holds for Dr. Wyman

Joanie holds for Dr. Wyman

No appreciation

No appreciation

Jan checks Tim's rescued red tail hawk

Jan checks Tim’s rescued red tail hawk

Joanie helps Jan with a GBH

Joanie helps Jan with a GBH

A variety of birds with a variety of injuries were also treated last week. Several red-tailed hawks of varying ages presented different injuries, along with this great blue heron with a serious wound near one of his wings. It’s always distressing to see birds in full breeding plumage arrive with life threatening injuries as you really want them to be contributing to the gene pool rather than fighting for their lives from some contact with the human community…

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A sad note on a food chart...

A sad note on a food chart…

In early July, 2001, I answered a rescue call from near Scottsdale Community College. Someone had found a baby bird on the ground and not knowing that burrowing owls live on or under the ground, took the little bird home and proceeded to hand feed it for a couple of weeks. When they figured the bird was big enough, they called Liberty to “check him out” prior to release. When I got to Liberty and opened the box, it was painfully obvious that his little owl was hopelessly imprinted – and a star was born! Frodo quickly became a favorite at education shows for the next dozen years or so until she began to show her age. She was retired from doing programs a while back, living in an enclosure in the ICU during the day and in a warm brooder at night. Last week, she peacefully left us in her sleep from complications of old age, leaving an aching hole in Liberty’s collective heart.

Normally I use a score that is somewhat subdued for my tribute videos, but Frodo was such a happy little bird and brought smiles to children for years, I picked a more upbeat tune as a soundtrack. Thank you, Frodo, for sharing your life with all of us…we will always remember you!

Click here for “Remembering Frodo” video.

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