A couple of things kept us busy last week…not really things that we should have been dealing with but sometimes odd things come with the turf. Both of these activities were the result of uncaring people dumping non-native animals to become some caring person’s problem.
One incident concerns the dumping of three mutt ducks at a lake on the west side of town. They were very nice ducks, very bonded ducks, very misplaced ducks. The lady that contacted us was terribly concerned because she felt like they were “crying” all of the time. While I am not sure what that means, she perceived that they might not be able to feed themselves and were very unhappy with their new station in life. She wanted them rescued and placed in a better situation. Duck rescues facilities were full. She contacted us.
Now anyone who knows uninjured ducks knows that they are difficult to catch because, guess what, they swim, run, and fly….and at least one of those is out of our league and depending on the shape and agility of the rescuer the other two options can be a problem. I speak for myself and long ago gave up trying to rescue water birds….too embarrassing for me and too frustrating for the birds and the other people watching. Gratefully we do have some very capable people to do this….but in most cases dumped ducks do fine where they are and after much machinations the lady who called decided that she would watch over the ducks and try to keep them out of harm’s way. That was undoubtedly the best solution. The bottom line is….don’t get a duck if you don’t plan to keep it forever!
The second incident involved an amazingly caring gentleman who happened upon 8 young domestic bunnies who had been dumped in a wash in the North Mountain area near his home. They were huddled together and terribly lost in their new and hostile surroundings. There were no pellets, no water, no greens, and no protection from predators. Their fate was caste until they were discovered. The rescue garnered six of the eight bunnies. He wasn’t sure what happened to the two that escaped his efforts, but it is fairly certain that they aren’t going to be as lucky as the remaining six.
He set them up in carriers for indoor housing and a portable dog pen that he moved around the yard during the day re-crating them in the house in the evening. Then his frustration began. He called all of the bunny rescue places in the valley and all of them were full. How sad that there are that many unwanted “pets”. A Facebook query sent him to our web site and ultimately to me.
In a flurry of activities, phone calls, pleas we were able to find a clinic and vet who would help us with the neutering which he generously suggested paying for. Then we located a family with a desire to add to their domestic rabbit pet population (a truly fabulous placement.) And, best of all we were able to help this very nice person who didn’t look the other way.
This Week @ Liberty
The intake total is now at 4745. (I’m not reporting releases any more for this year as pretty much everything except the raptors have been released!)
Well, the intakes have dropped off considerably as the Baby Bird Season draws to a close. We had another HUGE rain storm as Hurricane Norbert grazed the west coast, and a couple of new intakes were of interest – for various reasons. Once again, non-native species seemed to top the list of stories that bear repeating, but their connection to individuals who care about wildlife tremendously, take action in spite of long odds, and learn from the experience gives us all hope for the future (see HHH above).
Let’s take a look at the week that was September 8, 2014…
The GHO that was brought in after being impaled on the grill and bumper of a car is steadily getting better. His leg is healing as is his wing with great improvement to the head trauma he presented upon his arrival. His suitability for release is still in question, but his recovery is certainly headed in the right direction.
Our good friend Christy vanCleve in Sierra Vista took in this Swainson’s hawk recently which I picked up from her in Tucson. The most interesting thing about this particular bird is the fact that he has twelve toes! Eight is the normal allotment, but this young bird seems to have a similar genetic mutation as a kestrel we saw a few months ago. Our suspicion is that both of these birds’ parents were exposed to some type of insecticide causing this phenomenon. As both of these species consume large quantities of grasshoppers and other insects with an affinity for agricultural areas, we are doing some research into what is going on with the environment here and in Argentina where the Swainson’s breed.
We don’t see many zone-tail hawks here in Phoenix, and when one shows up, it’s cause for notice. They are more commonly found in arid, semi-open country, especially open deciduous or pine-oak woodland, often nesting in tall trees along streams. The Zone-tailed Hawk looks very similar in flight to Turkey Vultures, and it often flies with them. It has been suggested that the hawk is a mimic of the vulture and uses its similarity to sneak up on prey that is desensitized to the presence of vultures. Because of the extent of this bird’s wing injury, Rio, our current zone-tail ambassador, may possibly get some help on the Education Team.
Around 9PM in the evening following the millennial rain last week, I got a call from the hotline which sent me on an almost 100 mile rescue to Florence, dodging flooded roads and washes all the way. This kind woman had found this injured juvenile male northern harrier and had placed him in a cage. After carefully transferring the bird to a carrier, I drove him north, ultimately to Liberty where he was examined before treatment could begin. I knew from looking at him in the dark that his wing was severely broken near the shoulder but our vets are wonderful and I hoped that even if he could not be released, perhaps they could pin the wing and he would make a good Educational bird. Under proper lights, the extent of the damage became apparent and my hopes faded. We waited until Dr. Wyman could examine him and she determined that the break had occurred many hours prior to my rescue. I watched as the vet-night team really tried to find some way to save the bird but the fracture of the humerus was catastrophic leaving the dead bones unrepairable and he was respectfully euthanized. Some might suggest that my long trip late at night was a waste of time, but I absolutely do not agree. As long as there is a chance to save an animal from dying alone, frightened, and in pain, I’m going to keep going. It may not have been the best of endings, but it was far from the worst it could have been.
“Orphan Care 2014″ is history! The season officially ended last Sunday (yesterday) as only three little birds remained to fledge. They will now be cared for by the Med Services team as we pack up brooders, incubators, and berry baskets until next spring – which is really not THAT far into the future! It was a great year and our heartfelt thanks goes out to all the OC volunteers who spent hours each day for months, dutifully feeding and caring for thousands of little peeping babies as they rapidly grew into joyful hummers, mockers, thrashers, doves of all types, and various LBBs around the state. The world is a better place because of the work you put in!
OK, here’s another story for a future Disney movie. Somebody found this bearded dragon (a native of Australia) and he wound up at the Liberty facility recently. Once again, we normally do NOT take in lost pets, especially non-native species like this, but he quickly became a popular visitor in the ICU. I’ll let Shannon, his owner , tell the story:
It was the end of July and Rango, our bearded dragon, was roaming in the yard when a friend stopped by with their new puppy. Needless to say Rango did not know what to think of the dog and took off. My boys ran in the house to get their shoes on and came back outside and searched for hours and could not find Rango. He had never left the backyard before in two years so we didn’t think to check out front that same day. The next morning and several mornings after we would search the neighborhood and could not find him. We passed out flyers with no luck. I called several locations asking if they got a bearded dragon in and again no luck. Seven weeks after he had been missing we finally got a call from Tammy (on the Liberty Hotline) who told us they found Rango. We had given up hope but we are very glad we got him back. We live at 35th Ave. and Union Hills and he was found at 30th St. and cactus floating in a swimming pool.
Thank you Liberty Wildlife for what you do.
For those of you without Googlemap, that’s over 10 miles!