BLOG OF WILD AT HEART
Updates & Friday Feathered Facts
WAH wishes to sincerely thank some amazing veterinary professionals in the greater Phoenix area who generously provide their time and talents to the care of Wild At Heart’s critically injured raptors. Without their knowledge and dedication Wild At Heart would not be able to give severely injured birds of prey the best chance of survival and release back to the Wild.
All Creatures Animal Clinic of Phoenix: 602-493-5090, 4022 E. Greenway, Ste. 7, Phoenix, 85032
Bob and Sam Fox have had a long professional relationship with Dr. Irv Ingram at All Creatures Animal Clinic, starting with Dr. Ingram being the Foxes’ personal veterinarian for their own animals well before the start of Wild At Heart. Then, with the arrival of Chia, the founding owl of Wild At Heart, Dr. Ingram took on an even greater significance in Bob and Sam’s lives. Since those early days, Dr. Ingram and the staff of All Creatures has provided countless hours for exams, radiographs, surgeries and follow-up care for numerous owls, hawks, falcons, and eagles.
Saguaro Veterinary Clinic of Scottsdale: 480-948-1770 8426 E. McDonald Dr. Scottsdale AZ
Dr. Rick Soltero, began to help Bob and Sam Fox of Wild At Heart care for injured and ill raptors since the early 1990’s. Now, Dr. Soltero’s sons, Dr. Mike and Dr, John, along with Dr. Ketchmark and their caring staff have continued to provide much needed surgical services for our more critically injured patients.
Eye Care For Animals of Phoenix, South Phoenix, and North Scottsdale: main # 602- 995-2871
Drs. Barrett, Sigler and the extensive staff of Eye Care for Animals always greet our patients (and our volunteers) with smiles and some really cool devices to peer into raptor eyes. At Eye Care for Animals, specialized care and sometimes surgical intervention is provided to help Wild At Heart raptors suffering from mild to severe eye injuries.
Dr. Nancy Murbach, 480 946-3227 Veterinary House Call Service, Pet Mobile Services
Dr. Murbach has provided care to many raptors here at the Wild At Heart Center in Cave Creek. Dr. Murbach’s selfless desire to help Wild At Heart’s raptors is truly a blessing for the birds, and the our own pets as well. Dr Murbach comes to your home to care for your various pets, less stress on you and your animals.
Bob Fox, the Director at Wild At Heart, is holding a Burrowing Owl. This raptor arrived at Wild At Heart’s care this past week from Casa Grande. It is the 697th bird to be received this year, a 12% increase over last year (and last year was up over the previous year). Suffering from minor head trauma (likely struck by a car), this Burrowing Owl was found struggling and was taken to an animal shelter in Casa Grande, and subsequently made its way to WAH. It is doing well, and is expected to make a full recovery. It will spend a few months getting to know other burrowing owls in one of the outdoor aviaries at Wild At Heart and then join a release group in a tent over one of the MANY new artificial burrow habitats built this fall by Greg Clark and volunteers in either South Phoenix or Maricopa. This year several hundred volunteers from Wild At Heart, AZ Audubon, Estrella Mountain Community College, Sierra Club, The Boy Scouts in Gilbert, Freeport McMoran Employees in Safford, ASU Conservation and Nursing students and staff, NAU Faculty and Staff, Univ of Az Students, The City of Phoenix, Maricopa Agricultural Center, and many, many, other individual volunteers and groups have contributed to building new habitat and release tents to support our rehabilitation and relocation program for Burrowing Owls. Wild At Heart really, really, appreciates the help we have received for this program in 2015!
Please feel free to forward a link to this Post to your friends and family. With the increase in the number of birds coming in and all the exciting things happening and planned at WAH, please visit other parts of this website, www.wildatheartraptors.org, for further information to get on the e-mail list, become a volunteer and/or to make a donation. We can use ALL the friends we can muster. All the best for the holiday season.
This year we have been doing underground Burrowing Owl video recording to document the behavior of juvenile Burrowing Owls. One of the videos shows a very energetic owl in the burrow with lots of jumping trying (we think) to catch a flying insect in the burrow.
Friday Feathered Fact
The Short-eared Owl, as its name suggests, has only the tiniest hint of little tufts on the top of its head – quite dissimilar from its nearest cousin, the Long-eared Owl. Short-eared Owls are crepuscular, meaning they hunt primarily during sunrise and sunset. However, they can still often be seen hunting in the middle of the day. Their preferred habitat is open grasslands and meadows where they glide and hover low over the grass as they listen for mice scurrying below. Although these birds are found in North and South America as well as Europe and Asia, their populations are of concern. Over the last 50 years, the population of these elegant owls has fallen by nearly 70%.
Friday Feathered Fact
The most variable (and common) of the raptors in the US is the Red-tailed Hawk. Identifying this bird is even more complex when you realize each subspecies can have a dark, medium, and light “phase” or “morph” – sometimes within the same nest of young. Additionally, a young hawk can look different from the adult for up to 2 years! This hawk’s appearance ranges from extreme pale to moderate brown to solid cinnamon to all dark chocolate. Take a look at the sampling of photos. All of these are Red-tailed Hawks and, all of these were photographed within Arizona!
Friday Feathered Facts
A frequent question asked about our raptors is “How long do they live?” As a general rule in all animal life, the larger the species, the longer their life span. Tiny Elf Owls will live 5-8 years in the wild and the small screech-owl will live to be about 10. The larger Barn Owl can reach a nice old age of 15-20 in the wild while the large Great Horned Owl can easily be 20-25 years old. When Great Horned Owls are well cared for in captivity (abundant food, low stress), they can reach a very respectable age of 30-35. These older birds must truly be the wise old owls.
Friday Feathered Fact
Spring migration has nearly finished which includes not only the familiar song birds but, many of our raptors. Some, such as the Swainson’s Hawk, travel a one-way journey of 6,000 miles between wintering in Argentina and nesting in Canada. Another long distant migrant, the Peregrine Falcon, has the greatest migration of any raptor, traveling over 9,000 miles from the northern edge of the arctic to the southern parts of South America. The tiny Elf Owl, barely over five inches tall, will travel over 800 miles from its wintering grounds in central and southern Mexico to as far north as Arizona to start a new family. And, the small Flammulated Owl (barely six inches tall) will fly over 2,200 miles from central Mexico to Canada.
Friday Feathered Fact
The Owl that Wasn’t. During each spring and fall migration, rescue calls come in for a “tiny owl” lying on the ground. Quite often, the tiny owl turns out to be one of two unfamiliar look-alike birds. These are the poorwill and the nighthawk, which are not raptors at all but night time insect eaters. They are often seen “hawking” for insects at sunset and around bright lights such as at parks and sporting events. During their long migrations, they rest motionless on the ground during the day, sometimes allowing close approach as they rest. During the cold autumn, they even experience torpor (mini-hibernation) when resting and can be picked up. This often causes people to think they are injured. Here is a 4-point test to determine if the bird is a small owl or a poorwill/nighthawk. (1) It has an all dark eye versus an owl’s yellow eye; (2) It lies horizontally on the ground (not sitting upright) with long wing tips and tail pointing straight back; (3) It has a tiny beak (short & narrow) that points forward; (4) Its feathers are dark brown.
Our intrepid hikers and their mascot, Widget, are nearing their destination. They are 680 miles into their journey and should finish in a few days. Having just completed the crossing of the Grand Canyon, our team is headed towards the Vermilion Cliffs, home of the California Condor nesting project.
As one can imagine, this hiking demands a high calorie intake. Take a look at a hiking lunch in this photo!
Friday Feathered Fact
A Barn Owl family is somewhat unique by having many (up to a dozen) nestlings that range dramatically in size from a 2-inch new-hatch to a sibling 10 inches tall. This occurs because the Barn Owl immediately sits on the first egg while adding a new egg each day. A two-week size difference between the first and the last sibling can be remarkable. In sharp contrast, a female quail lays eggs over many days but does not start incubating until all have been laid. This delay tactic helps to synchronize the hatching of the chicks at the same time. The peeping of one quail chick inside the egg stimulates all chicks to begin peeping and hatching at the same time. Once hatched and dried out, the entire family leaves the nest, leaving behind the scent of freshly hatched eggshells that would attract predators. A slow-hatching chick not synchronized with the rest of the eggs is at risk of being left behind.
Friday Feathered Fact
As rare as hen’s teeth. This idiom refers to the fact that no birds have teeth. However, all baby birds (except the kiwis of New Zealand) have a handy “egg tooth”. This temporary deposit of calcium carbonate on the tip of the bird’s beak has a dual purpose. First, the chick punctures through to the air sac within the egg, which provides more oxygen for the struggling chick. Second, the egg tooth rubs and pushes through the harder egg shell, called “pipping”. These young birds also have a special “pipping muscle” on the back of the neck that provides more strength to push that little egg tooth against the shell. Lizards and snakes also have an egg tooth. Remarkably, the egg-laying mammals (platypus and echidnas) also have this same egg tooth to reach the outside world.
The 12 Days of Christmas and Holidays
We thank everyone for making this another very successful year for Wild At Heart. Through your efforts, interest, education and donations we have been able to rescue and rehabilitate hundreds of our desert birds.
Remember too, that as you shop this holiday season, Amazon Smile provides an opportunity to raise funds for Wild At Heart. Just sign up at AmazonSmile, shop and Amazon will donate a portion of your purchases to Wild At Heart. To learn more, visit AmazonSmile http://smile.amazon.com/gp/chpf/about/ref=smi_aas_redirect….
We start our 12 days of Christmas celebration with Roja, our female Red-tailed Hawk. Roja is often referred to as our “Empress” because she carries herself in such a regal manner. Roja loves to be out in public at our educational events.
Roja came to Wild At Heart almost 14 years ago. She was found on the ground with a severe case of trichomoniasis which is a protozoan organism that unfortunately caused permanent damage to Roja’s mouth.
Red-tailed hawks are one of the most common hawks seen in North America and can often be seen here in the desert circling overhead riding the currents of the wind. The Red-tailed Hawk cry is also one of the most familiar sounds of the raptor family. Its cry is often used in movies and television shows.
When asked what Roja might like to ask Santa for, she responded that she would like Santa to tell everyone how thankful she is for all the support given to our mission here at Wild At Heart.