Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wild in the City!

Erin Olmstead
This month's Living with Nature lecture presentation was a real treat! We were thrilled that Liberty Wildlife volunteers Anne Peyton and Craig Fischer and four avian ambassadors made the trek down from Scottsdale for our monthly meeting. We had a great turnout to hear about Liberty Wildlife's work and what we, as concerned residents, can do to help reduce the risks that native wildlife face living in the city.
When I pulled up to UMC the area near the entrance was abuzz because Anne and Craig were unloading their precious cargo, safely crated in sturdy metal boxes. Wisely, the education team doesn't reveal which special bird guests will be making an appearance so I couldn't wait to see what was in store for us! One by one, we were introduced to four amazing raptors who, since arriving at Liberty Wildlife, have been rehabilitated, but for a variety of reasons are unable to return to the wild. Now, each has a new mission in life: education! First up was Hedwig, a Great-Horned Owl. Hedwig was already imprinted when she was brought in to Liberty Wildlife as a youngster. While she is now perfectly healthy, she cannot be released because her attraction to humans could lead to trouble.

Next we met Salsa, a Harris's Hawk. Scarring from a throat infection prevents her from swallowing food effectively. In the wild this is a problem as Harris's Hawks hunt in groups. Being unable to gulp down prey items quickly, she would have trouble getting enough to eat. She is training to become one of Liberty Wildlife's Raptor Flight Team. Check out the long legs and tail on this bird!

Next up was Pawnee,
a Ferruginous Hawk born in captivity, who showed off his feathered legs:

Then Lady Liberty stole the show!
Despite having lost part of her wing to a gunshot wound many years ago, "Libby" the Bald Eagle is an imposing figure. Here she strikes a majestic pose to a round of applause from the awestruck audience.

The evening was especially memorable for two young naturalists. Before Liberty Wildlife took to the stage, eighth-grader Ary from Sunnyside-Audubon Student Urban Naturalists (SASUN) made an excellent presentation to the group about the club. She impressed us all with her poise and Powerpoint skills, as well as the great projects the club is working on. (Stay tuned for more on what SASUN is up to!) At the end of the night, Ary and her brother had a special photo op with Libby, who after an appetizer of 2 raw chicken drumsticks, was caught on camera sizing up the students!

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