Our Alternate Universe!
by Gail Garber
It's hard to believe that just one short month ago, our priorities focused on gearing up for the spring field season, the explosion of avian intakes as baby bird season arrives, and finishing up all school programs. Worried about Covid-19's rapid progression in other parts of the globe, we were rather oblivious to the portent it held for the United States.
There have been many changes at Hawks Aloft as we adjust to working from home. First and foremost, we are committed to all the staff and volunteers the make Hawks Aloft such a unique and wonderful organization. All staff remain on board, at their regular number of hours and pay. We have applied for numerous grants and pursued SBA special funding sources to help us through this time. Further, we are drawing down our savings account to cover payroll and other expenses.
We know that these are tough times for all. But, if you have a little extra to spare, it would help us tremendously. All donations are fully tax deductible. And, you will have the gratitude of everyone here.
The 2020 Hawks Aloft Raffle Quilt made its debut at the Monte Vista Crane Festival, our 27th annual raffle quilt! Shown above, it was stitched by a team of 15 and machine quilted by Tisha Cavanaugh. I hope you will agree that it is simply beautiful! Raffle ticket sales are one of our most productive fundraisers and we are especially in need this year, when all of our community outreach events have been cancelled.
Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5.
purchase tickets here
and every single dollar raised will go to feed our cadre of Avian Ambassadors. Even though there are no school programs these wonderful birds, of course, continue their routines at home, which includes healthy meals! Please help if you can!
Pictured above, the 2020 raffle quilt
Jemez CFLRP Data
By Dr. Trevor Fetz, Senior Research Biologist
Since 2012, Hawks Aloft has conducted avian point counts on Valles Caldera National Preserve and the Santa Fe National Forest as part of the Southwest Jemez Mountains Collaborate Forest Landscape Restoration Project.
Cumulatively, over the first eight years of surveys (2012-2019), avian density was highest in mixed conifer forest (2.14 birds per hectare) and burned mixed conifer forest (1.99 birds per hectare), followed by riparian habitat (1.81 birds per hectare), burned ponderosa pine forest (1.79 birds per hectare) and ponderosa pine forest (1.71 birds per hectare). In contrast, cumulative avian richness was highest in riparian habitat (93 species) and ponderosa pine forest (79 species), followed by mixed conifer forest (69 species), burned ponderosa pine forest (65 species) and burned mixed conifer forest (63 species).
Cumulative avian density by year, across all habitat types, was highest in 2018 (2.27 birds per hectare) and 2012 (2.09 birds per hectare), with densities during those two years being significantly higher than all other years, except 2013. Cumulative avian density in 2019 (1.85 birds per hectare) was fourth highest among the eight years of surveys. In contrast, the cumulative avian densities in 2016 (1.53 birds per hectare), 2017 (1.54 birds per hectare), and 2015 (1.61 birds per hectare) were significantly lower than all other years, except for 2014. Avian richness by year was highest in 2018 (97 species), 2019 (86 species) and 2014 (84 species).
A key component of this study is the documentation of the impact of forest thinning on bird use. Cumulatively over the first eight years of the study, avian density in thinned plots (2.00 birds per hectare) was significantly higher than unthinned plots (1.50 birds per hectare). In contrast, avian richness was higher at unthinned plots (53 species) than thinned plots (46 species). No federally listed threatened or endangered species have been observed, but cumulatively we documented 52 avian species of conservation concern. The response of relatively common species of concern was variable among unburned and burned habitats of like type and between thinned and unthinned ponderosa pine forest. This variability between the response of species of concern to both fire and forest thinning illustrates the complexities of forest management. We are grateful for the assistance of John Stanek, who conducted a majority of the surveys for this project in 2019. The 2020 surveys for this project will begin in mid-May.
Image of Grace's Warbler, a species of high conservation concern, by Alan Murphy.
Living with the Landscape in Edgewood,
by Amelia Thompson, Educator
for generously funding Living with the Landscape for two East Mountain Schools earlier this year. In February, I began programs at Route 66 Elementary School. In March, we were able to visit every grade, from Kindergarten to 5th, before COVID-19 closed all public schools in New Mexico.
Evelyn McGarry, a volunteer who lives in Edgewood, amazingly volunteered to assist with all the programs at this school. Evelyn said that she wanted to be able to give back to her community. The two of us visited the school a total of 7 times, before programming abruptly ended. We had so much fun; the students were enthusiastic and they asked great questions. Evelyn would send me a text each time she encountered a student when she was out grocery shopping, letting me know that the students recognized her.
One time, a 5th
grade student approached her in Walmart and requested that we bring an owl for our next presentation. Little did that student know, I had already planned to bring two owls to visit that class the next week. Thy
were so excited to see Shadow, our Western Screech-Owl and Celeste, the Barn Owl. One student was particularly excited to see Celeste because she has the same name! We now know that schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year. We however intend to provide the full program to Route 66 and Moriarty Elementary schools in the fall.
The education staff and volunteers are taking advantage of this unexpected break to work hard on improving our curriculum. I am currently taking a class on curriculum planning and am incorporating what I have learned into our educational programs. I also am using the Next Generation Science Standards for New Mexico to make sure that our programs support the work that teachers are already doing in the classroom. Our hope is that we will come back from this break with an even better Living with the Landscape program!
Evelyn McGarry and Beauty, the HAI Turkey Vulture. Image by Gail Garber.
Raptor Monitoring at El Segundo Mine, by Larry Rimer, Project Manager
I’ll admit it! I’m the lucky one who gets to perform raptor surveys in a very remote section of NM at the El Segundo open pit coal mine and surrounding area. My job is to record the numbers of raptors seen, record their nesting and reproductive rates, as well as record other songbirds and wildlife seen.
This year has started off extremely well sightings of Golden Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, Ferruginous Hawks, American Kestrels, Common Ravens, Turkey Vultures, and Burrowing Owls, as well as many of the Southwest's songbirds. Elk, deer, coyotes, bobcats, pronghorns, and prairie dogs are also common here and its not unusual for migrating birds to stop at the cattle ponds for a rest and drink.
Although it is a large mine, the surrounding cattle ranch land holds wide open spaces with sandstone bluffs scattered throughout, and virtually zero people. In all the times I have done this survey, I have only once come across a rancher out and about. So,
yes, you could say I have the whole area to myself and my animal friends.
On my early April survey I recorded two Red-tailed Hawk nests (one bird on the nest, with another nest being upgraded with fresh material getting it ready), two Common Ravens on nests, two Burrowing Owl dens, an American Kestrel pair picking out their perfect cavity, and a Golden Eagle nest. With so many more active kestrels, ravens and Ferruginous Hawks seen in the area, I am certain the numbers will climb even higher on the next survey.
On the last survey I performed, I had the thrill of a lifetime when walking around a huge bluff to come face to face with a Golden Eagle that was still waking up as I rounded the corner. I was focused on looking up at the bluff face and when I looked down to watch where I was walking, I noticed something odd in my view. Never expecting to see what I was, I had to do a double take to register in my mind a Golden Eagle was 30 feet in front of me, perched on a rock at ground level. We stared at each other for 15 seconds thinking “this is an unusual encounter." Then, the eagle flew off around the bluff not to be seen the rest of the day. Never in my life have I gotten this close to a wild Golden Eagle, an encounter I will never forget.
All images by Larry Rimer. Dark morph Ferruginous Hawk (top), Red-tailed Hawk carrying nesting material (center), and prairie dog conversation (bottom).
Owls of New Mexico!
We are pleased to introduce our brand new T-shirt, featuring images of our Avian Ambassadors and nearly every single species of owl that might be found in our state. Designed by Scott Lowry, this unique T-shirt is the perfect gift for a loved one during the holidays. After all,
whoooo doesn't love owls?!
The shirt comes in both long and short sleeves. All shirts are $30 and can be ordered on our website or can be picked up at the office. Ladies sizes are available in short sleeves; all long-sleeved shirts are unisex, and we also have youth sizes in short sleeves.
Fauna of Mérida, Yucatán,
by Maggie Grimason, Senior Editor
Before the coronavirus had reached every state in the U.S. and had been declared a pandemic, I packed my bags and headed to the state of Yucatán, in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. I made a home base in Mérida, the area's largest city. Most of my work is remote, so I was lucky enough to enjoy a few weeks of Spanish classes and working from somewhere tropical, about 20 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and a little less than 200 from the Caribbean.
Commonly spotted throughout the city of Mérida were Great-tailed Grackle (which I learned is officially called
, but in the Yucatán is almost exclusively known as
, derived from Maya), White-winged Dove, and Tropical Mockingbird. On one occasion I had the opportunity to visit El Corchito, a natural preserve that neighbors the beach town of Progreso. There, not only did I see a group of raccoon-like coatis, but even an alligator sleepily surfacing in the channel leading to a series of cenotes, or natural sinkholes where many people gather to swim. There also were many Sanderlings here. Later, a quick stop in Progreso on the Gulf of Mexico for tacos and a long walk on the beach brought views of Pelicans and Magnificent Frigatebirds.
A few days later, I headed deeper inland to visit a cenote near the village of Tecoh, called Noh Mozon, one of many Mayan names I encountered on my visit. In fact, Maya phrases are common in the Spanish spoken around Mérida, and Yucataec Maya is the primary language of millions of people in the area. There, while looking skyward I started to notice the giant, gnarled trees more so than the birds. I learned that these were Ceiba trees, of great symbolic importance to ancient Mayans, and for decades an industry in the Yucatán, where people used their bark to make a sturdy kind of rope.
In my final days in Mexico, the growing concern of the coronavirus reached Mérida, as more and more cases were confirmed throughout the country, as well as in the city itself. I cut my trip just a little short, but am thankful to have had this time in the Yucatán, seeing new birds and animals, learning new words, and feeling the intense moisture of a tropical climate. Just the same, and particularly in light of the growing crisis worldwide, I am grateful to be home, safe and sound, in Albuquerque.
Coatis at El Corchito by Maggie Grimason
March in Review, by Maggie Stein, Education and Outreach Coordinator
Before we were ordered to stay at home, this month was scheduled to be a very busy month for our education and outreach programs! We still managed to get a few very fun programs in for the month of March during the first week, however.
Monte Vista Crane festival in Colorado took place the
first weekend in March. It was a huge success! Not only was it the best weekend of fundraising that we have ever had, but the group of people who attended made the weekend so much fun and go off without a single hitch. Thanks so much to the volunteers who traveled with us: Chellye Porter, Liz Roberts, Larry Rimer, Mary Bruesch, Patti Rosin, Gail Garber, and Sammy Sanborn.
The following Monday, we had a day of programming at the Santo Domingo Early Childhood Development Center at Santo Domingo Pueblo. This gorgeous school facility had the most wonderful and friendly staff, and the cutest young scholars who loved acting out different bird behaviors! Thanks so much to Dianne Rossbach for assisting that day.
The next Friday we had programming with students from A Child’s Garden Pre-school! Once again, the staff and young students were so excited to have us. The students absolutely fell in love with Beauty, the Turkey Vulture, and loved listening to the story
. Thanks again to Dianne Rossbach for attending this school program as well!
To wrap up our week, we did an outreach booth at Wild Birds Unlimited in Corrales on Saturday, March 14th. These stores are always fabulous to work with, and this Saturday was no exception.Our volunteers for this day were Mary Bruesch, Shawn Klolek, and Evelyn McGarry.
We are so looking forward to getting back to our outreach and education programs soon!
All images by Gail Garber
Trying Times, by Jill Morris, Office Manager
Hello everyone! Certainly we’ve all been affected by COVID-19 (some much more severely than others). My heart goes out to all those impacted by this in any way.
Hawks Aloft is doing its best to stay open and functioning. Birds don’t stop getting injured or needing to be fed no matter what else is happening in the world, so we are doing our best to keep our doors opened. We have, however, closed our office to the public, but still have a manned Raptor Rescue Hotline, as well as someone in the office to regularly check phone messages and emails.
This is usually a difficult time of year for us anyway, as many of our contracts don’t kick in until April or May, so we can’t do any billing (i.e., no money coming in except from donations). Since this is a hard time for everyone, we can’t expect many donations, either. We truly appreciate those of you who continue to buy memberships, merchandise, adopt raptors, and generously donate. Every penny counts--now more than ever!
Our education birds still need mice and rats to eat and our bill continues to be about $2,000 per month for that alone. Anything you do to help us out, large or small, would be so greatly appreciated! Understandably, most of us are “maxed out," so if you can't comfortably, don't worry about making a donation. However, know that if you earmark your donation for “Raptor Food," we’ll make sure it gets used for that.
Thanks so much to each and every one of you for your support! Please say safe and healthy.
Image of Cimarron del Norte, our retired Rough-legged Hawk by Gail Garber.
Introducing Our Newest Adventure!
BRAZIL: Wildlife of the Pantanal
& Amazon Rainforest
With Hawks Aloft & Holbrook Travel
November 5 – 14, 2020
Located in west-central Brazil, the Pantanal is the world’s largest freshwater wetland and one of the most biodiverse, productive habitats in the Western Hemisphere. It harbors a world-record 82 species or large birds including Hyacinth Macaw, Jabiru, Toco Toucan, Greater Rhea, Scarlet Macaw as well as coatimundi, tapirs, and giant river otters.
Perhaps, however; no other animal is as beautiful and dramatic as the jaguar. Embark on this exceptional adventure providing opportunities for close range observation of abundant wildlife and the majestic jaguar.
We will spend our final days of the trip in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, immersed in the dense tropical forest that is home to the highest concentration of birds species, with over 1,500 described species of rainforest birds. It is home to the Harpy Eagle, Bare-faced Currasow, King Vulture, Hoatzin, Plum-throated Cotinga, Spectacled Owl and much more.
The Amazon is also home to about 430 species of mammal, with more still to be discovered. Among the monkey species that could be seen are: Howler, Spider, Capuchin, Tamarin, Squirrel, Woolly, Uakari, Titi, Marmosets, and Night Monkeys, also called owl monkeys. Of course, aquatic life abounds in this habitat as well as the Pantanal.
- Embark on several boat rides in search of the jaguars that roam freely in the Pantanal
- Venture on outdoor activities to seek out tapids, ocelots, monkeys, Hyacinth Macaws, and mixed species flocks
- Watch for birds and mammals from the Pantanal’s only mobile canopy towers, strategically located near fruiting trees
- Listen to experts to learn more about the biology and conservation of the jaguar and the giant otter
- Journey to the Amazon to observe the wildlife of one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet
Only 2 spots remain!
Help support our non-releasable raptors through our Adopt-a-Raptor program. Hawks Aloft houses and cares for 28 permanently disabled raptors (and one corvid!). Our Avian Ambassadors travel throughout the Southwest, helping us to educate the public about how to help protect these beautiful animals. We provide them with top-quality housing, food, and medical care for their entire lives. It costs an average of $2000/mo. just for their food. When you adopt a raptor, you help feed our birds, make home improvements, and provide veterinary care for one avian ambassador of your choice. Prices range from $35-$100 depending on the species.
Click here to Adopt a Raptor
such as Turbo, our adult female Burrowing Owl of unknown age. She was caught in a roof turbine and suffered damage to her neck and wing, hence her name. Photographed here by Larry Rimer. When you adopt a Hawks Aloft raptor you will receive:
- A one-year Hawks Aloft membership
- An Adoption Certificate
- An information sheet about the individual bird you have adopted
- Exclusive access to video updates about your bird
- Your choice of:
A professional 8×10 photo of your bird, or
A stuffed Audubon Bird with realistic vocalizations
(if available for that species)
Support Hawks Aloft by Shopping at Smith's!
Many of you have long been Hawks Aloft supporters, and a good number of you have also been longtime Smith’s shoppers. For those not in the know, the grocery chain has a program that provides a small kick-back quarterly to nonprofits when their supporters link their shopper’s cards to the organization.
The company recently changed their policies regarding the program—so even if you’ve signed up in the past, you may need to do it again! The good news is that it is easy to do.
Either create an account or sign-in to an existing one
Once logged in, click on “Account Summary” on the left sidebar
From there, scroll down to “Inspiring Donations Program” and click “Enroll”
A searchable list will come up, you can either search for “Hawks Aloft” or enter our ID number for the program, GL430
Shop using your card and now that every time you do so, you help out Hawks Aloft!
We appreciate your ongoing support in this, and so many other capacities!
*Check out intakes and thank-you's after the Photographer's Gallery*
Photographers Monthly Gallery
Albuquerque, New Mexico
We first met Doug Brown many years ago--so many in fact, that we can't even remember when exactly that was! Doug immediately began donating his world-class bird images for use in our publications and social media. Internationally renowned, and winner of prestigious awards, Doug is a cardiac anesthesiologist for his day job. In this time of pandemic, Doug is working on the New Mexico COVID-19 Command Center, coordinating patient care statewide in addition to his regular work at the New Mexico Heart Hospital.
We hope you enjoy these images of South American birds, taken in Ecuador during one of Doug's international workshops. Normally, this section would include information and links to his upcoming workshops. But at this time everything is on hold, so please visit
to see more.
- Plate-billed Mountain Toucan
- Yellow-rumped Cacique
- Violet-tailed Sylph
- Sword-billed Hummingbird
Thank You to our March Donors!
Nancy & Bryan Hall
Terri & John Haven
Raptor Rescue Team
Our Veterinarians and Rehabilitators
Acequia Animal Hospital
Kariana Atkinson, DVM
Mary & Ed Chappelle
Linda Contos, DVM
Cottonwood Rehabilitation Center
Desert Willow Wildlife
Eye Care for Animals
Christine Fiorello, DVM
Tim Fitzpatrick, DVM
High Desert Veterinary Care
Ray Hudgell, DVM
Gavin Kennard, DVM, DACVO
Daniel Levenson, DVM
Mike Melloy, DVM
New Mexico Wildlife Center
Bob Peiffer, DVM, PhD
Petroglyph Animal Hospital
Kathleen Ramsay, DVM
Santa Fe Raptor Center
Southwest Veterinary Medical Center
Samantha Uhrig, DVM
VCA West Side
Ventana Animal Clinic
Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico
March 2020 Call Log & Intakes
The Rescue Hotline fielded 16 calls in March. Some birds did not need to be rescued or the call was passed on to another rehab group.
Great Horned Owl: Wing injury
Great Horned Owl: Hit by car (DOA)
Great Horned Owl: Caught on barbed wire
Golden Eagle: Gunshot
Sandhill Crane: Wing injury
Cooper's Hawk: Wing injury
Cooper's Hawk: Hit window (head trauma)
Cooper's Hawk: Impaled by stick
American Kestrel: Wing injury
And Thank You to Our Corporate Donors:
Amazon Smile Foundation
Central New Mexico Audubon Society
Farmers Electric Cooperative
Four Corners Bird Club
Gathering of Nations
Land of Enchantment Wildlife Foundation
PNM Resources Foundation
Peabody Natural Resources Company
Summit Line Construction
The Verdes Foundation
Wild Birds Unlimited
Wildside Nature Tours
Womack Wealth Management
6715 Eagle Rock Ave NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113
Who We Are
Lead Avian Biologist
Project Manager, Taos Gorge Raptor Study
, East Mountain Representative
, Raptor Rescue Dispatcher
Raptor Rescue Coordinator
Education and Outreach Coordinator
Our Board of Directors