Baby bird season took over the Sanctuary. I watched over 1,000 birds come in and out of Fallen Feathers from March to July. The baby Great Horned owls that took over the aviaries next to mine are now fully feathered Juvenile Great Horned owls ready to be released and explore the world of their own.
Experienced volunteers are busy training new volunteers and saying goodbye to volunteers going off to college. Needless to say it’s been a busy couple of months. And it’s hot. People in Arizona only stay outside as long as they have to.
Yesterday, I was privileged to attend the Bye Bye Buzzard event at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. It’s an annual event that the park has been doing for 20 years. This is the second time we have participated.
The buzzards were everywhere lined on the cliffs. There was a group of people watching the buzzards and learning about vultures when we arrived. Everyone was happy to see me up close. I don’t go to as many events as the other birds, but when I do, it’s special. Today was MY day.
Red (Red Tailed Hawk), Nod (American Kestrel), Digger (Burrowing Owl) and Raven also attended. They enjoyed being out and hanging out in the beautiful trees. Well, not Digger, he still prefers his basket.
Thank you, Paul for inviting us and celebrating the buzzard. Thank you to the staff and all the fellow birders for making us feel welcome. We hope to be back for Welcome Back Buzzards next year.
Voldemort, the Turkey Vulture
My name is Dusty, I am a Barn Owl. Today two volunteers came into my aviary and brought me inside, where I met another volunteer. This one had a big scary thing hanging from her neck. It was called a camera by others. I had many pictures taken of me (above) and I screamed at the volunteers to scare them. When I tried to fly away, they grabbed and placed me in a carrier.
From there I met the three volunteers who took me for a ride to my new home. They talked and I screeched over them, making it difficult to hear. I didn’t like listening to this “Katy Perry” person, and screamed at them to stop it.
When we arrived, I saw trees, bushes, and farmland. This would be my new home. As soon as we were about to release there was a terrible beeping sound, an alert appeared on all three volunteers’ phones at once: “Severe Dust Storm”. The volunteers refused to release in such bad weather. So we started our long drive back to the rescue where I would be safe in my aviary. I saw other birds struggling to fly in the strong wind. I am glad they didn’t put me out there.
On the way back I complained, I had a very long day and was tired; also, the volunteers stopped for ice cream, which I wanted to try. Although I did stop complaining and was silent for one song by a person known as “P!nk”. This radio thing is very interesting. Now I am sitting and waiting for my release in the aviary with some food. I appreciate the shelter, I am protected from the ongoing storm.
-Dusty, the Barn Owl
P.S. I had to wait two more days due to bad weather. I heard the volunteers talking and they put me back in a carrier and back in the car. I complained and jumped around. I lurched at where the opening of the carrier was but it wouldn’t give. I had to endure another car ride. The volunteers took me back to the same place. It was perfect and I was very happy and excited. I quickly flew away, stretching my wings, knowing I was free.
It’s March 31. I’m taking a car ride to Fallen Feathers from Wickenburg. They thought I was a Cooper Hawk baby, but I am a week old Great Horned Owl nestling and I am already an orphan. I have cuts on my head. I was warmed up, my wounds were cleaned and then I was fed.
I don’t balance well yet. I miss my nest. It’s made to help hold me in. Mom and/or Dad couldn’t come help me after I landed on the ground since owl feet (talons) are made for crushing; killing our prey. My parents normally would keep me warm since i’m still all covered in fluff – a heating pad set on low now does that job. An incubator is ready if I need it.
As a baby, I sleep most of the day, but I do open my eyes a little. I have also quickly adapted to the silver tool that feeds me twice a day. Right now I just eat small mice, but as I get older I’ll need at least a rat a day to fill me up.
I’m learning things every day. I am honing my hearing skills. Owl ears are especially sensitive so that they can hear their prey’s every move. Have you ever seen an owl ear? Mine are easy to see right now since my feathers haven’t come in yet. Take a look.
There are lots of other babies here already. Sparrows mostly right now. 71% of the total bird count Fallen Feathers receives in a year is during April, May, June and July. I am told that there will be many other great horned owls here soon, but I am the first of this year. Fallen Feathers has gotten between 10-15 Great Horned Owls a year for the past 3 years. Friends will be nice to have.
Update – April 25th
Volunteers were not kidding. The first week i was here, several owls have arrived. The “twins” – they are at least 2-3 weeks older than me. a Barn owl, Priscilla. She screams at everyone but is about my age. This week, we got in 2 adult barn owls, and a week old barn owl. There were also two other sibling great horned owls dropped off on separate days. The first one, Harry, seems fine. The other, Troy, has some tummy trouble and needs more care.
We also have lots of baby ducks, hummingbirds and sparrows right now. We all grow at different rates and have different needs. It’s amazing to watch.
Gonzo, the Great Horned Owl
I’m Alice, a Cooper’s Hawk. I’ve lived at Fallen Feathers for a while. I’m still being trained to attend our events. It takes a lot of work to go to events and I’m a very anxious breed of bird. Our Executive Directors and volunteers are very patient with me. Let me tell you a little about what they do to support us every day and thru these events.
About a week ago, we attended Parada Del Sol parade. It was the first time we have been there and it was quite the honor. The event itself started at 10am, but we had to be there to set up at 7am. That means that the people wake up at 4am to feed us and start getting us birds ready (jessed and crated).
We were on the road a little after 6. We checked into the event and everyone started unloaded the trailer. We birds waited patiently (except Raven, she hops around).
Once the canopies and tables are all up, the perches are set up and we come out. People start coming by almost instantly with questions. Some of our events we have a kid section too with some sort of craft.
Our volunteers spend the entire event educating people about us (birds) and about the rescue/rehab we live in. At this event, I got a new perch. It was very nice and I felt very comfortable. The other perches we had were fine, and the other birds didn’t seem to mind them, but I am particular.
Here I am, along with Jack, the Harris Hawk and Digger, the Burrowing Owl. Flat Stanley visited us on Valentine’s Day, shown here with a volunteer and Raven. Finally, there is Robert, the Great Horned Owl.
Our entire education bird family is not shown here, but we were all at the event. The Parade portion of Parada Del Sol finished at 4pm. People continued to visit while everything was being put on the trailer. This is common for us. It’s nice to be seen and cared about by the public and our volunteers are always happy to answer questions. You’ll just have to come see us in person to truly appreciate everything that is done.
We got home about 7:30pm, put in our aviaries to have our dinner. It was a good day and now we get to rest.
We will be back with Parada Del Sol this weekend for the main events on Feb 28th and at Tres Rios Natural Festival next weekend (March 7 & 8). Hope to see you there.
Alice, the Cooper’s Hawk
It all started near the Agua Fria riverbed and Happy Valley, behind the Target plaza.
I live in the area. The expanse of hunting ground is good (screenprint from Google Maps).
I’m a prairie falcon. I am lighter colored than the peregrine falcon. I cruise at about 45 mph, at a little over 3 feet off the ground when I’m hunting. I fly faster when I have found my prey.
Today I was on the hunt and ran into some barbed wire. Not good news.
I am lucky. A lady walking her dog found me and called Fallen Feathers. Jody, their founder came to get me; it helps that she lives only minutes away. That was also fortunate for me as I was in serious need of medical treatment. The barbed wire cut me deeply on my leg and stomach. I have been at Fallen Feathers for two nights resting and healing. They put this annoying necklace on me so I can’t pick at my stitches. I don’t know how long I am going to be here, but I do know that next time, I’m shopping somewhere else for my food.
Duke, the prairie falcon
Update: Unfortunately Duke did not survive the severity of his injuries.
The beginning of the New Year means it’s almost baby bird season again. They have been fortunate the past few months to have the time to “get their ducks in a row”. If you have never been to Fallen Feathers before, the whole organization is operated out of a home. It is generous and loving and we birds appreciate it greatly.
Volunteers have been helpful with removing old broken equipment, building new aviaries and resealing existing aviaries.
While one of the goals of Fallen Feathers is to have a free standing facility in the northwest valley, there is still room to grow until that happens. Help is needed establishing watering throughout the aviaries and additional landscaping would be nice so that we birds have plenty of shade in any new aviaries.
A very generous donation of various bird items and statues was granted in late November. Everyone has been decorating the grounds celebrating the very creatures they are trying to help.
It’s seems like only days, but I have been at Fallen Feathers for over three months. My feathers are all in and I’m starting to fly. I’m not a baby any more so I don’t click for my food. I’ve started making other barn owl sounds, mainly my scream. We barn owls don’t hoot like other owls.
I don’t like being around the humans. I watch them carefully when it’s feeding time. Two days ago, one of the volunteers came into my habitat to take my picture. She told me I was beautiful. I tried to intimidate her with my wings and then I was ready to fly away too, if needed.
Today that same volunteer came and took me from my habitat and drove me away. I screamed at her to tell her how displeased I was but she told me that I would be fine and that I was going back home to see my parents. I was being released.
I don’t like car rides but it was worth it. I saw the man who took me to Fallen Feathers. He was very excited to have me back in the area. He told us where my parents live and said that I have a sibling that just started flying too. I hope they will welcome me back.
I was taken good care of. I’m healthy and strong. I’m ready to face the whole world.
Autumn, the Barn Owl
I don’t want to jinx anything, but it’s been a little quiet around Fallen Feathers these days. The last of the baby doves and pigeons are grown. Most of the intakes now are injured birds. It’s time to get projects done. Volunteers have been building new aviaries and taking down old structures that no longer fit our needs. We are “cleaning house”.
For two of us, it’s also our very lucky day. Today is the day that I get released. I’m Charles, the Coot. I’m also called a mud hen. I’m a water fowl that has a chicken like beak but webbed feet. I was rescued by the Brophy College Preparatory Rowing Team at Tempe Town Lake and brought all the way up to Fallen Feathers. Mac, the coach checks on me regularly, makes me feel very special.
Charles, the Coot and Mel, the Mallard
Charles, the Coot was very excited to be released and quickly joined up with fellow coots in the pond. Meanwhile, Mel, the Mallard, casually surveyed the area before joining the flock.
For more information about Fallen Feathers, please visit our website at www.fallenfeathers.org