Archive for September, 2011

It’s A Bird…It’s A Duck…It’s A Cormorant!

“There’s some sort of a duck in my yard and it has a broken leg.”  Three calls similar to this one came in over a one week period recently and the animal in all three cases turned out to be a cormorant.  A lady called about some strange duck like bird in the parking lot at Walmart in Mesa. Several hours later, a man called about this big, black bird in his yard abouta mile north of the Walmart store.  And this past Sunday, Ginger Duplisse received a rescue call about a funny looking duck with broken legs in a yard in Chandler.  First we have raging dust storms and now it’s raining cormorants in the East Valley. Cormorants are fish eating water birds with webbed feet and a straight bill.Their feet are set back on the body so they are awkward walkers on land,which is why so many people think they have a broken leg.  More and more cormorants have made the artificial lakes in the Valley their home.  Since their feathers become saturated as soon as they hit the water, they can often be seen on a dock or lakeside with wings held out to dry.

Double-crested cormorant

Black in color, they weigh about two and a half to three and a half pounds depending on species so they are a good sized bird to find nestled in yourgeraniums.  Proceed with caution!  The bill has a hook at the end for grabbing fish and also lashing out at any supposed predators including rescue volunteers. 

Ginger was able to throw a towel over the bird and pick him up that way to get him into a carrier. 

In most cases, the bird isn’t injured at all.  It has come down into a swimming pool or irrigation or possible was blown down by the wind and cannot get back up in the sky.  These birds need a long enough lake for take off so they are stranded unless they are rescued.  Left in a yard or parking lot especially during the summer, they’ll get overheated and dehydrated so it’s important to get them into water ASAP. 

Other water birds that need a lake runway for take off are coots, mergansers, loons, and grebes. 

submitted by: Nancy – From The Director’s Desk

Blogger’s Note:  There are two types of cormorants making Arizona their home. One is the Neotropic cormorant and the other is the Double-crested cormorant with orange on the face and green eyes.

Neotropic cormorant

Rescued cormorant



Swallows Under the Route 202

The next time you are riding along route 202 near McClintock, look up. Beneath that overpass there is a story to be told. This one came from my archives and was written by Paul, our friend at Wildwing – another rescue and rehab organization here in the Valley run by Paul and Gloria.


Gloria and I received a phone call from Kevin Grove, a senior biologist with HDR, an engineering and architectural firm that creates plans for construction companies that need an environmental assessment of their activities. HDR is overseeing the environmental aspect of the Loop 202 widening project at McClintock and the Salt River. The roadway is elevated over the river, and all of the support piers for the 202 are home to many, many Cliff Swallow nests. A single lane is being added to the westbound and eastbound lanes, and this necessitates adding more support piers outside of the existing ones. U.S. fish & Wildlife guidelines dictate that if the new construction is within so many feet of active nests, then a mitigation program has to be developed. The outside support piers of the original lanes are too close to the new construction . . . so removal of Swallow eggs/hatchling/nestlings was the only way to proceed.

Pam Horton and I arrived at the site (McClintock & 202) early Monday on the 22nd of June, and were led down into the river bed. We proceeded to gear up—hard hat, long pants, eye protection, and gloves.  I also had to don a safety harness that would have secured an elephant—riding in the bucket lift made this a must. We closely examined all of the nests on the three support piers, and did remove 22 hatchling/nestling Cliff Swallows, along with 16 eggs. All are doing well.  HDR tried many ways to exclude the Swallows from nesting on the support piers—all to no avail. What finally did work were narrow strips of garbage bag attached to the top of each pier, and then sprayed with Pam, making the surface too slippery for the swallows to attach their nesting materials.  In about 10 days the next phase of this project will commence, and we will be called on to assist again in removal—our hope is that many nests will be empty, as this is the end of the Cliff Swallow breeding season. Cross your fingers and knock on wood!.  – Paul Halesworth 

Mission accomplished Paul!! 

Swallow nests under pillar of highway


Inspecting for swallow nests and eggs

Paul and Pam going up in bucket for swallow rescue


Quinn becomes a star!

Another of Lisa’s Creatures, Quinn, the patagonia cavy, became a star with an article in Tails Magazine. The article was written by Kevin Lambert of the magazine. Here is the link to follow to read the entire article. or if you have trouble opening the link, just long onto Tails Magazine, which also has a free email newsletter. Mentioned in the article is the Association of Professional Wildlife Educators and you can find out more information about that group by going to We wonder if Quinn is getting any fan mail yet??


Willie the Fennec Fox at Build A Bear

One of Lisa’s Creatures made a big hit at the local Build A Bear Store last week. It seems that Build A Bear has just introduced a new collectible – you guessed it – a fennec fox! The new stuffed animal is just one of the Build A Bear collection of exotic animals. Willie, Lisa’s fennec fox, (along with Lisa) was invited to the store to show the customers how cute the real thing is!

A fennec fox collectible come to life! Willie at Build A Bear