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!
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.
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…
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.